ImageFirst News

Design dreams it. Manufacturing makes it come to life. Collaboration is key.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Designers and fabricators aren’t always on the same page especially if they’re not under the same roof. The worst feeling is thinking your sign is being installed in 3 weeks only to find out there’s an issue with the design once it goes to production. 

Designers are tasked with interpreting conceptual designs and brand standards and putting a creative spin on how logos, colors, and fonts work within a complete architectural signage package. The ImageFirst designers are also cross-trained on production methods in the manufacturing facility, pitching in with the production team when needed. While this helps us be efficient, it also ensures that our designers know how things are built efficiently and effectively.  Our manufacturing team ensures that they can bring that vision to life. 

This collaboration and cross-training allow our team to tackle engineering, wind load, the best way to add illumination, and how to choose or value engineer materials for design.  It is possible because both the design and manufacturing is done in Grinnell, IA then trucked or shipped to install locations across the country. 

Most problems can be solved before the job even hits production with the right heads around the table. Our process allows us to make suggestions, across specialties, about complications we have run into on past projects that may be helpful on the current project. Then take those concerns with solution options to the team or the client.
For example, a massive electric guitar sign was recently completed for a client. The body of the guitar was 22-feet long. It was built in Grinnell and delivered in one piece and hung over a temporary stage. Designers and production collaborated to make the sign with flexible LED lights that created the look of neon at a much more affordable price. They also had to engineer the sign to fit securely onto a temporary outdoor stage and then easily taken down and stored after the event. 
Another recent project used our faux corten steel material that uses a chemical reaction to create the look of rusted metal. This suggestion reduced costs allowing illumination in the sign. Sustainability was a value to the client and solar-powered lights were pursued. A place in the sign’s stone base was created to house the solar battery and added an access panel that can be removed for maintenance. The panel was placed a small distance away for both sun exposure and visual effect that the sign was solar powered.

“What’s great about the process, is that a client could literally come to us with a sketch on a napkin, and we could make it happen,”

says Mike McKeag, President and COO. “Our designers know how to value engineer the design to create the desired look, and they bounce ideas off the manufacturing team to make sure every engineering consideration regarding weight, weather, and wind load is taken into account.” 

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