ImageFirst News

Thursday, August 23, 2018

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

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.”