A long-time client of mine recently relocated their car dealership and came to my shop with a request. They’re now housed in a “glass palace” with windows everywhere. What a great mega-canvas to work with!
Their requirements were rather simple: Reproduce their logo on the front windows and both sides of the glass-walled showroom (Photo 1).
Each window perforation design would be unique, as the front features only four windows, the left side entrance six windows, and the right side entrance eight windows.
I started by downloading the supplied artwork and converting it to an .EPS file. I created the final files in Omega™ and then saved them as an .EPS file.
From there, I selected Adobe Illustrator for final manipulations. The colors were verified, and all files were saved at 50 percent of the output size.
From Adobe Illustrator, I imported the .EPS files into my Roland VersaWorks® RIP program. Inside VersaWorks, I resized the .EPS files to the actual size needed for this project.
Now it was time to load the perf vinyl and press the “go” button (Photo 2). (Note: I use my automatic take-up reel for longer prints, such as the upper print for this graphic. This feature keeps everything clean and ready for the next step.)
My goal in printing large format window perfs is to have as few seams as possible, because the seams always seem to show up to the most discriminating sets of eyes (Photo 3). Overlapping window perf film is a very fine art and is usually completed with some very fine cutting to minimize the contrast between the sheets.
Since it was the easiest one to cut my teeth on, I started with the front window (Photo 4). The graphic consisted of four panels along the bottom and a large, one-piece upper panel.
Studying the windows, I couldn’t help but notice a huge nine-and-a-half-inch window divider. How would I ever make that work?
I decided to cover the gap with a black piece of aluminum and install the window perf right over it. The black background offers a similar contrast to the windows, and the upper print is now easy to read and blends in rather well.
The prints for the other windows were carefully cut into individual window sizes using a formula. I measured the total width of each window and subtracted .25 inches all around.
The window purlings were exactly two inches wide. So on the large print, I marked where the purling would occur and cut them out of the print at the size of 2.5 inches wide. The extra .5 inches would cover the .25-inch perimeter gap between all four prints. I prefer a minimum of .25 inches away from the weather stripping. (Note: This step also lessened the chance of the print becoming loose around the perimeter.)
The key to multi-panel alignment is to start with accurate cuts and guide marks. I find it much easier to work all this out in my design program rather than cutting “on the fly” in the field.
The bottom four panels were printed center-justified on the fifty-five-inch window perf material. The four individual files were lined up on the screen to make sure the traffic sign graphics and the upper lines of copy were all in alignment. All were printed and cut to final size in the shop.
The right- and left-side window perfs included upper panels or the main banner, and the bottom three or four panels were features. These were printed vertically and centered on each individual window (Photo 5).
For installation of many of the prints, we used two of my eight-foot stepladders and a walk board. Two prints in this project though required scaffolds (Photo 6).
Before any prints touched the glass, we cleaned each and every square inch of glass with a 50 perfect water and 50 percent denatured alcohol spray, followed by a hard buff dry.
We also welcomed our good buddy Harold Tees from I-45 Signs in Houston, who lent us a helping hand in installation.
To begin installing the panels, we attached a four-inch strip of transfer tape to the top edge of each print, one at a time. We found our center of the glass, lowered the print .25 inches, and centered it between the two horizontal window purling. Everything was straight now.
We placed the print into position and attached a piece of two-inch masking tape just beneath the four-inch strip of transfer paper. The tape ran about six inches long down the print and covered a portion of the window purling. This kept the print in place while we peeled back the upper five inches of the graphic’s protective backing paper.
We then gently squeegeed the upper five-inch portion of the window film up to the top of the window—rubbing horizontally—and removed the masking tape.
Next we rolled the print up to the adhered upper portion. Then we began unrolling the print about eight to ten inches at a time while squeegeeing the print with a felt (or Velcro®-covered) squeegee. We worked horizontally with firm pressure all the way down to the bottom of the print (Photo 7).
Just like any sign discipline, the more you practice the craft at hand, the better you’ll become.
Start out with a small rear window graphic for your own shop. Get wild and crazy—and be sure to include your Web site and telephone number on it.
Window perf film can literally open a whole new set of windows for you and your company. Have fun and make money!
Mark Roberts is a thirty-two-year sign industry veteran, a seminar speaker, and a workshop leader. To view his many products to build and enhance your sign company, visit www.signprice.com.