5 Steps To Create a Damn Good Photopolymer Sign


Artistic and Compliant

Photopolymer signs are primarily used to create ADA room identification signs. The design and style of a photopolymer sign enhances the aesthetic of a space and provides accessibility for people with visual disabilities who occupy the space.

Here are the 5 tips for creating a Damn Good Photopolymer Sign.

1.  Design: Choose The Right Material

ADA signs are replaced during a renovation or they’re part of the interior in a new facility.  Although the main purpose of an ADA sign is to help people navigate the space; the design of the sign itself also can play an important role.


A custom boarder with a decorative element that matches the custom routed shape of the sign.

Photopolymer allows for high resolution tactile graphics, boarders, and accents elements along with the Braille. This process allows more options and flexibility for ADA signs to carry a brand identity throughout a facility or to simply enhance to the overall design. The Novacryl Photopolymer Designer Series is made up of six different photopolymer materials…


2.  Compliance: Make sure your signs are complaint

If the purpose of ADA signs is to help people with visual disabilities find their way around a facility, then making sure the signs are compliant is important. The DOJ recently increased penalties for compliance violation and nearly a dozen states now have an accessibility inspector.

All states now follow the 2010 Standard for Accessible Design which became law in March 2012. The official 2010 Standards and all supporting documentation can be found on our Accessibility Codes page. We have also created a series of Accessibility White Papers to help sift through the codes related to signage.

The main areas of concern for ADA signage are:

  • Font Type
  • Kerning
  • Size of Tactile and Characters
  • Spacing
  • Mounting

Workflow Manager (WM) is a Design and Braille translation software we designed in partnership with CADlink Technologies to help designers and fabricators create compliant signs that meet the 2010 Standard. WM ensures that the fonts, spacing, and overall design are correct. The automated Braille translation takes the human error out of converting copy to Braille.


3.  Exposing Photopolymer: Are You Using A Stouffer Scale

image001Photopolymer is a unique material that hardens when exposed to Ultra Violet (UV) light. The shape of the photopolymer tactile and Braille elements is controlled by the amount of UV light.

A Stouffer Scale measures UV output and allows the operator to manage the UV light needed to create proper Braille dots as the UV bulbs decrease in intensity. All fabricators must use a Stouffer Scale when exposing photopolymer. Sixteen on the Stouffer is the perfect reading.

If you need a Stouffer Scale let us know.


4.  Fabrication: Get A Nice Edge

Photopolymer signs can be cut in a variety of ways depending on the material type. The finished edge of a sign is important and a major part of creating a great photopolymer sign. The Novacryl Designer Series has six different products with various base materials – aluminum, steel, PETG, 3form ecoresin, laminates, and photoluminescent. Each material has a different cutting method.

shear cuttong novacryl

Accucutter Finishing shear cutting Novacryl PT-118 material.

Shear – the AccuCutter Table Top Finishing Shear will cut Novacryl PT Series material that is 1/8″ and thinner to a finished edge. The shear will also cut 1/8″ and thinner Novacryl ECR material and all the other Novacryl material. However, the shear may not be the preferred cutting method for some material depending on how the individual sign is constructed. Radius corners can be done with a corner rounder shear.

Router – most shops use a CNC router for various cutting applications. All Novacryl products can be cut on a router. Bit selection and spindle speed are important so make sure to view our routing recommendations.

Laser – many shops now have a laser to cut various materials to free up the router. The laser does have limitations when cutting different materials, especially with gauges 1/4″ and thicker. The Novacryl PT Series cuts the best on a laser. We have some recommendations for cutting Novacryl on a 50-watt laser.


5.  Finishing: The Final Steps

The final steps in making a photopolymer sign are tipping the tactile and applying a top coat of paint on the photopolymer surface. Depending on the design of the sign, the photopolymer will either have a solid paint color on the surface or a clear coat applied to the surface.

wet film gauge for painting

Using a Wet Film Gauge to measure the thickness of paint.

All photopolymer signs require some type of topcoat regardless of design. The topcoat protects the photopolymer and ensures ADA compliance by creating a non-glare finish.

We recently created a video with Matthews Paint that goes through the detailed process of painting photopolymer signs. The video touches on techniques, mixing paints, cleaning the gun, and how to use a wet film gauge.

Tipping or applying color to the tactile parts of a photopolymer sign are done with either hot stamp foil or screen ink. The design and color will generally dictate which method is used.


These 5 areas of focus will ensure you produce a Damn Good Photopolymer Sign!  Contact us for questions or information on materials or equipment.

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