Uses for Contour Cut SignageAPRIL 1, 2019| SpeedPro
Signs let your business show off its personality and brand while sharing valuable information with customers. No matter what industry your company is in or where its physical location is, signs are a must-have.
The more eye-catching and unique your sign is, the better. Shoppers often visit unfamiliar retailers as a result of the signs those stores used. Almost 40 percent of shoppers have made assumptions and judgments about businesses based on the perceived quality and uniqueness of their signs.
When it comes to choosing signs for your business, you have a lot of options. Your signs can be text-based or graphics-based. They can be in the shape of a square or rectangle, a circle or cut along the outline of a more complicated form, such as a cartoon figure, a person, an animal or nearly any other shape. If you want your signage to stand out and grab attention, using signs that are contour cut into custom shapes might be the way to go.
Options for Custom Shaped Signs
With a custom shaped sign, your business moves beyond the basic rectangle or square. Three different techniques can be used to create a custom shaped sign. The method you end up choosing depends in large part on your goals and on the design of the sign itself.
- Contour cut: Contour cutting creates a sign that is a specific shape, without a border along the sides. The sign is created using a digital cutter and a router. Before it is cut, the sign is printed with the design. Printing the design before cutting helps to ensure that the edges are exact and that the sign is properly positioned. Usually, contour cutting can only be done on materials that are at least 1/4 inch thick. Thinner signs aren’t sturdy enough to withstand the contour cutting process.
- Halo cut: A halo cut is similar to contour cutting. But where a contour cut sign has no border, a halo cut sign usually has a 1/4- to a 1/2-inch border along the edges of the sign. Thanks to the border, the image or text in a halo cut sign looks more like it is floating on a background, rather than a free-standing object.
- Die cut: If you’ve ever made cut-out sugar cookies, then you’re familiar with how die cutting works. While halo and contour cutting using a digital cutter to trace along the edges of the sign, a die cutter uses a stencil to cut the shape. The stencil presses through the sign material, pushing out the shaped sign.
Choosing the Cutting Technique
How you want the sign to look is going to influence the cutting technique you choose. For example, if you want a sign that looks like the thing it’s representing, such as a cut-out of a person or an animal, then you’ll want to use contour cutting. If you do want a border along the edge, halo cut is the way to go.
The materials you’re using for the sign also influence the type of cutting technique. For example, die cut signs typically need to be made from a sturdy material such as aluminum. It can be difficult to push a die through soft materials, and the cutting process is likely to cause damage or wear on the edges.
Contour cut signs need to be made from thicker materials. Otherwise, you have a wide range of options when it comes to choosing the material to use for odd-shaped signs. Those options include:
- Acoustic panels: Acoustic paneling is usually used to absorb sound and to keep noise levels under control. Although some types of acoustic paneling value function over form, your custom business signs don’t have to. You can use contour cutting to create acoustic panels that complement your business’ décor and that work with its aesthetic and style while suppressing sound.
- Acrylic: Acrylic comes in a range of colors and finishes, making it an option that’s easily customizable. Acrylic is a reliable, unbreakable alternative to glass.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is a sturdy, weather-resistant material that’s flexible and easy to cut into the desired shape. If you want a contour cut sign to hang outdoors, aluminum is likely the material to choose.
- Coroplast: Coroplast is a weather-resistant, lightweight plastic material. It’s often used outdoors and is waterproof and colorfast.
- Vinyl: Like acrylic, vinyl is a flexible sign material that’s available in a range of finishes and styles. Contour cut signs made from vinyl can be removed and repositioned to your heart’s content.
Benefits of Custom Shaped Signs
Why choose a custom shaped sign over a basic four-sided or round sign? There are a few benefits to choosing a custom cut-out:
- More visually appealing: Ask yourself — would you rather see a person printed on a sign or a life-size sign in the cut-out shape of that same person? If you use a contour cut sign to create a life-size cut-out, you can have the person in an active pose, such as a baseball player in mid-pitch or a pair of dancers waltzing away.
- Unique: Your business is unique, and you’ve most likely spent a lot of time trying to showcase to your customers what makes you different from the rest. Using custom-cut signs is another way to display your uniqueness.
- Highlights your products: You can create signs in the shape of the products your business sells. Doing so creates an opportunity for customers to see what you’ve got to offer up close.
- Works indoors or outdoors: Depending on the material you choose, a custom shaped sign can live indoors or out.
Types of Contour Cut Signs
So far, you like the idea of creating a custom shaped sign and using contour cutting to make your signage more visually appealing and attention-grabbing. But you’re not sure where to get started or what type of sign to create. Here are a just a few examples of the types of signs that can benefit from a custom shape.
1. Cut-Out Mascots
A mascot comes alive when it’s life-size and entirely cut out, rather than presented on a standard rectangular sign. You can hang a cut-out mascot sign on a wall or window, or create a stand-up sign that you can move from place to place. Here’s who can use cut-out mascot signs:
- Professional sports teams, like the Philly Phanatic
- Schools, from high schools to colleges and universities
- Amateur sports teams or local sports clubs or gyms
- Restaurants, such as Ronald McDonald, Wendy or the Burger King
- Professional services companies, like the Geico Gecko
2. Product Signs
While creating a cut-out mascot sign lets you create something life-like, you can also use contour cutting to create something larger than life, such as oversized images of your company’s products. For example, a fast food restaurant can produce large-format images of hamburgers, french fries and ice cream cones and hang those cut-out images on the walls of its restaurant or the windows, facing the outside. Some companies that can use custom cut product displays include:
3. Vehicle Graphics
Vehicle wraps can make your car or truck stand out on a crowded highway. But you aren’t limited to covering the entire vehicle with signage. Another option is to use cut-out shapes to advertise on your vehicle. For example, if you own a plumbing company, you can attach a cartoon cut-out of a plumber to the side of your work van. To make things more life-like, you can attach digitally-printed, cut-out photographs of you or your team to your work van. Vehicle wraps are great for:
- Food trucks
- Plumbers and other home repair service companies
- Shipping companies
- Bus and transit companies
- Housekeeping businesses
4. Corporate Signs
One of the purposes of signage is to help people find your company. Usually, corporations hang signs in the lobby of their buildings, on the street in front of their buildings and in the reception area of their offices to let people know where they are located and to confirm that people have found the right place. You have a lot of options when it comes to the design of the sign that announces your business’ name and displays its logo.
Along with rectangular or square acrylic signs or vinyl decals, you can also create contour cut corporate signage. For example, you can have the shape of your business’ logo, as well as the letters of your company’s name, cut out. Whether the sign is flat or three-dimensional depends on your preferences. You can use a thicker material to make your brand seem to “pop” off of the walls. Many businesses can use corporate signs, including:
- Banks and other financial institutions
- Law offices
- Other professional services firms
- Colleges and universities
- Restaurants and retailers
5. Floor Graphics
Sometimes, the answer to a person’s question lies right at their feet. At least, that’s the thinking with floor graphics, images or signage attached to the floor and designed to either direct people to their destinations or promote a product or service. The material used for a floor graphic can be contour cut, making it even more visually appealing and eye-catching than a graphic that uses a standard shape. Here are some places that can use custom cut floor graphics:
- Stadiums and convention centers
- College and university campuses
- Cinemas and performance spaces
6. Window Graphics and Decals
Contour cut signs don’t only belong on the walls or floors of a building. They are also equally at home on the windows of a company. Your business can hang cut-out mascots, cut-out product images or pretty much any other custom shaped graphic from the windows of your building. Window graphics can face outwards to attract customers and draw people in off of the street. They can also face inside the building, adding some decoration to the lobby or waiting area.
It’s also possible to use cut-out graphics as privacy barriers. For example, if you have glass-walled conference rooms or office spaces, hanging contour cut decals on the windowed walls can obscure the interior spaces. Other places that can use custom cut window graphics include:
- Medical offices
- Gyms and yoga studios
- Insurance and other professional services companies
Where to Use Contour Cut Signs
You aren’t limited to using contour cut signs in your usual place of business. The signs are at home in many settings, from trade shows and corporate events to festivals and outdoor advertisements. Here are a few places you can use custom shaped signs to get attention or to help people navigate a busy area.
1. Trade Shows
No matter what industry you’re in, it’s likely there’s at least one trade show for it during the year. Trade shows are great opportunities to show off what’s been going on with your company and great for sharing news. But they are often full of competitors, all of whom are trying to get the attention of potential customers. Whether you print up a larger-than-life cut-out of a product, feature your company’s mascot or founder or use large lettering to display your company name, contour cut signs can help you stand out from the crowd.
2. On a Billboard
Although most billboards are rectangles, they don’t have to be. You can use contour cut graphics to make a billboard advertisement stand out and grab the attention of passing motorists.
In the summer, people flock to festivals, from music fests to Renaissance faires and everything in between. Cut-out signs can mark the entrance to the events or adorn the stage at a music festival. For example, the Lollapalooza festival uses giant, contour cut lettering to show off its name at the entrance gates and over the stage.
4. Sporting Events
Stadiums, ice rinks and playing fields are ideal places for contour cut signs. Arrow-shaped signs on the floor of a stadium can help to direct foot traffic. Cut-outs of the home team’s most popular players can help fans get excited about the game. In the food court, cut-outs of fries, soda bottles and candy can encourage people to order snacks.
Although you might not think of bathrooms as an ideal place for signage or graphics, there are a few messages you want to get across to people who use the bathroom. One is to remind employees to wash their hands — and to encourage others to do so, as well. While you could hang a placard with a “please wash your hands” message on it, you’ll attract more attention if you use cut-out letters and make the sign visually appealing.
Museums can be easy to get lost in, especially if they have several exhibits on display, many wings and multiple stories. Contour cut signs, such as large, cut-out numerals to mark the floor and oversized bathroom stick figures, can help visitors quickly orient themselves. Cut-out lettering for a museum’s sign can also be more eye-catching than a 2D sign.
Let SpeedPro Help You With All Your Sign Needs
The beautiful thing about contour cut signage is that it is a truly customizable option. Whether you want a sign to hang above your reception area, graphics for a vehicle or window or stand-alone cut-outs, the experts at SpeedPro can make it for you. We have all the equipment necessary for large-format printing, custom sign printing and much more.