Park Place Sign Systems

Transforming Tactile Signage with Photopolymer


What do schools, office buildings, stadiums, sports arenas have in common? They are all required by law to have ADA-compliant signage. ADA requirements specify character size, spacing, and contrast against background colors, while also ensuring that Braille characters consistently rise 1/32″ off the base material. This is all to help visually impaired people — those with visual acuity of 20/200 or less — to read signage and navigate safely in public buildings. Moreover, ADA-compliant signs are likely to become more important as the Baby Boomer generation ages and need the support of high-contrast tactile letters and even Braille. To grow your own understanding of the rules and policies you need to adhere to be sure to download the free white papers available here or visit Also, note that the requirements may vary by state, especially in California, so if you are in the sign business this is “must know” information!

Photopolymer Performance

The key technology for these signs is photopolymer, a photosensitive synthetic compound available in sheet or liquid form that hardens when exposed to an ultraviolet light source. The flexibility of photopolymer in terms of design and materials is extensive and offers options for every conceivable signage need.

“Photopolymer, especially when combined with digital printing, has transformed conventional and ADA signage,” affirms Bill Baker, president of Park Place Signs in Hannibal, Missouri. “With it, we can produce signs using a repeatable process that has a very low scrap rate.”
“”The materials we get from Nova Polymers can be incorporated into nearly any design and help make signage more contemporary and visually appealing,” continues Mr. Baker. “Designers often work with architects to make signage an extension of the overall building design.”

Sometimes this can be a reflection of the usage of rooms in a building. Mr. Baker recounts how Park Place Signs recently supplied signs for a school, using subsurface printing of artwork to denote the use of different rooms. The sign outside the art classroom used Van Gogh’s “Starry Starry Night,” while the one for a boys’ locker room bore a photo of a local sports hero. Both images were digitally printed on a Mimaki printer and the signs included space for ADA required text and Braille. The possibilities are nearly boundless, and limited only to designers’ imaginations

“We would like to see designers take advantage of all the interesting things that photopolymer can do”, says Chris Corry of Welch Signage in Scarborough, Maine.

The process behind photopolymer signage makes it the go-to choice when deadlines loom because ready-to-use signs can be produced quickly and easily. “Signage can sometimes be an afterthought in the construction process,” explains Mr. Baker. “A city or town cannot issue an occupancy permit without ADA-compliant signs in place, yet those signs can be one of the later items on a builder’s punch list. That makes for some very tight deadlines. But if we use Nova’s materials correctly, we stay on schedule.”

Making Braille Easy

For tactile signage, especially Braille, photopolymer characteristics give fabricators and designers nearly unlimited flexibility while providing a raw material that meets ADA regulations. Enhancing the chemical process is software that helps ensure Braille is accurately rendered and placed on a sign.

Nova Polymers partnered with CADlink Technology to develop Workflow Software Manager, which automates file creation for ADA-compliant signage to make sign creation faster and easier. It helps ensure all Braille and text used comply with federal standards, that Braille text has correct spacing, and includes the standard pictorial symbols used with ADA signage.

“Workflow Manager’s easy to use design and file building process has simplified production of Braille and the film negatives are easily transferred to our fabrication facility,” says John Keebler, Director of Engineering at L&H Companies in Reading, PA. “It lets our sign designers enhance the overall sign environment with different types of typography and photopolymer materials. The end result is an accurate way-finding and room identification signage that can evolve with the needs of our clients and their facilities.”

Mysteries at the Facility Level
Many Facility Managers do not understand ADA codes and often don’t know where to find the answers Nova Polymers provides continuing education for architects and designers through a quarterly ADA Webinar Series and offers personalized Lunch & Learns that can be given at a sign-maker’s facility.


The Power of the Package

Orbital XPhotopolymers provide the fastest and most cost-effective approach for producing attractive, durable ADA-compliant signage, especially when Braille is required. Nova Polymers offers a full range of materials, equipment and supplies for photopolymer signage and offers a complete package for photopolymer sign production:

  • Workflow Manager Software to automate file creation for ADA compliant signage.
  • InkStar Film Solution for quality imaging and quick drying of negatives and positives.
  • The Orbital X processor that increases productivity with an integrated design and plain water washing.
  • Accucutter Shear that reliably trims a finished edge on material up to 1/8″ thick.
  • Kobo TC-851 hot stamp machine for applying color or metallic effects to ADA-compliant tactile images.

A complete Nova Polymers package costs less than $50,000 and the ROI can be similar to the revenue from about 1,200 8×8-inch ADA-compliant signs—which may be just a few shifts of work in many shops. Even better, there are some tax advantages you can take to the bank.

Put Your Tax Dollars to Work. For You.

A feature of the 2008 Stimulus Act called Section 179 allows taxpayers to deduct the purchase, leasing or financing of efficient new equipment on their income taxes, and covers tax years 2015 and 2016. This presents an excellent opportunity to invest in a complete Nova Polymers photopolymer sign production package. For all the details, be sure to read this white paper from Connext and schedule some quality time with your accountant and tax advisor.

“Whether it’s products, supplies or expertise, Nova Polymers has always provided the support we need” says Ted Krause of Ability Signs in Justice, IL. “They know the technology and are always pushing to make it better, working with the materials companies and with designers and fabricators.”

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