Martin Hinchliffe

Martin Hinchliffe

FREELANCE Sign Survey or Fitter / Vinyl Fitter - UK

To be displayed in Sign Update Magazine

July issue

FREELANCE Sign Survey or Fitter / Vinyl Fitter

with 30 years experience with own vehicles and IPAF/PAL CSCS & PASMA.

Willing to travel country wide for contract work or surveying signage.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further detail.

Project Co-ordinator - East Sussex

To be displayed in Sign Update Magazine

July issue

Graffiti Design Logo

Project Co-ordinator - Sussex

Salary: £17k-£19k p/a (dependent on experience)

Main purpose and scope of this job:

The role involves assisting the Project Managers and working closely with them to ensure that all projects for our clients are delivered to timescales, budget and quality.

This includes working closely with the project managers, artwork and production departments to ensure all deadlines are met for individual projects. You will be accountable for the below responsibilities and therefore will need to plan your own work in order to meet these.

Responsibilities include(but are not exclusive to):
  • The production of Risk Assessments and Method Statements (RAMS) as required and distributing with good time, also the responsibility to find out if these are required
  • The production and distribution of accurate Works Orders/Job Sheets for each project to be created in good for each respective project.
  • The production and distribution of accurate install dockets in good time for each respective project.
  • The timely ordering of materials for jobs per the approved Job sheets/Works Orders and recording of this through the PO system
  • Production of quotations/estimates for clients
  • Assisting clients with any queries they have on projects, investigating and taking accountability for resolving issues
  • The checking and organising of any licenses and permits required for all projects in a timely manner
  • Liaising with artwork teams to get artwork amended and approved by client and production files ready in a timely manner
  • Working with the production manager to ensure the timely production and delivery of projects
  • Organise installation of signage and deliveryof respective jobs in good time
  • Occasionally there will be a need to visit clients and survey sites for upcoming projects
Competencies required:
  • Initiative - Evaluates, selects and acts on various methods and strategies for solving problems and meeting objectives before being asked or required to do so
  • Accountability - Takes responsibility for all work activities and personal actions; follows through on commitments; implements decisions that have been agreed upon; maintains confidentiality with sensitive information; acknowledges and learns from mistakes without blaming others; recognizes the impact of ones behaviour on others.
  • Problem-solving - the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues
  • Customer-centric - Demonstrates concern for meeting internal and external customers' needs in a manner that provides satisfaction for the customer within the resources that can be made available.
  • Attention to detail - Achieves thoroughness and accuracy when accomplishing a task through concern for all the areas involved
  • Oral Communication skills - Demonstrates the ability to convey thoughts and express ideas effectively using speech in individual or group situations; attends to and fully comprehends what others are saying.
  • Planning/Organising - Establishes a systematic course of action for oneself or others to ensure accomplishment of a specific objective. Determines priorities and allocates time and resources effectively
  • Professional/Technical Expertise - Acquires and uses technical and professional knowledge, skills and judgment to accomplish results and serve customers effectively.
  • Teamwork - Willingly cooperates and works collaboratively toward solutions that generally benefit all involved parties and accomplish group objectives
Skills required:
    • Essential
    • PC Skills - Microsoft Office intermediate
    • Useful
    • Knowledge of design packages and principles
    • Knowledge of construction projects
    • Commercial/sales experience

Please send full CV and cover letter through to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., any questions please feel free to call and speak to Damien or Neil. The closing date for applications is Friday 22nd May

Hot-spots in built-up letters

tower LED Module

The science behind the "hot spot"


Photometric: The shaded area represents the angle and "brightness strength".

Standard LED modules generally produce strong front firing light.

"0" represents the "Hot Spot". Tower LED modules are unique by firing light to the sides, which reflects off the side walls creating uniform bright illumination.

Lighting built up letters can make a significant difference to the overall effect, even make or break a project. One company has addressed one common problem with an innovative solution that makes sure there are no more 'hot spots'!

Khalid Bashir from 3D Sign Systems explains: "How many times have you seen a high quality sign installation but the only factor that makes the sign not so great is the 'hot spots' of light. The traditional method would be to use neon, but this 'art' has been in decline for a number of years for many reasons such as the rising cost of energy. And for many, the newcomer namely LED modules, have been struggling to fill this void satisfactorily. Illuminating small or shallow depth channel letters has been quite difficult and frustrating using standard LEDs. And for this reason many a good sign maker succumbs to compromise. In order to achieve adequate brightness, typically bright LEDs are used, which can create the dreaded hot spots. This is where the sign letter is not uniformly lit but suffers from dimly, and brightly, lit areas. To overcome this problem with hot spots, lesser powerful LEDs can be used, but the quantity of modules tends to increase proportionately, which increases production costs.

"So 3D Sign Systems can offer a product that offers 'hot spot' free illumination and superb levels of brightness with our very unique Tower LED modules. The Tower module uses a very specialised dome lens which reduces the amount of front firing light to the face of the letter, And instead the majority of the light emitted is fired sideways at a much shallower angle. This strong low angle light bounces of the channel sides to produce bright, uniform levels of front face or halo illumination. The end result is a quite impressive even on letters with 40mm depth. The Tower module is equally good on letters with up to 200mm deep channels.

"Unsurprisingly there are quite a high number of signs that deem a retrofit illumination upgrade and the potential to increase revenue in this market is quite high."

ICE Signs have just installed their automated metal shaping machine

Mirror polished stainless steel built up letters with Halo effect illumination using blue LEDs. Internally illuminated brushed stainless steel built up letters with red acrylic mimicking neon style. Lorry carrying 3m high Robin shapes, with digital print and internal illumination, for 2013 Carnaby Street Christmas Lights in London. Built up aluminium letters powder coated to clients specified RAL reference colourSign made from a Large high level fascia panel with mirror polished stainless steel elementsBuilt up letter in construction.

ICE Signs in Leeds are excited to have just installed their automated metal shaping machine to boost 'their production of built up letters'.

Rebecca Bairstow from ICE Signs said: “Bespoke, premium quality built up letters have been at the core of our signage business for many years, and we have built a reputation for producing them to the highest standard for both trade customers and end users alike.”

They supply their letters in a number of finishes, from powder coated to RAL colour references, wet sprayed to an individual specification, brushed or mirror polished stainless steel and acrylic faced. They provide a comprehensive service and can provide letters only or mount them on to trays or fascias manufactured in the their factory. They also do installations for 'complete signage solutions'.

“We fit LED lights with either Face or Halo illumination,” she said. “Great care is taken when we select the appropriate number and type of LED modules as this is an area where skimping or cutting corners can really detract from the finish and effect.” They tend to use the brightest modules with good light dispersion to avoid the pitfalls of 'spotting' and shadows. They also believe the correct depth of returns is critical and 'their extensive knowledge and experience of fitting LEDs is key to producing illuminated signs to the satisfaction of their clients'.

For some time ICE Signs had been looking to invest in an automated metal shaping facility to 'improve on lead times and price but without compromising the quality of the end product'. Rebecca explained: “The traditional method for making hand built letters has been to carefully and accurately fit returns to the faces or rims of a letter. But in order to end up with a product which has the necessary blemish free appearance it takes considerable skill and time.

“But cheap prices and fast lead times are not always all that a customer requires. For example, we recently tendered to supply sets of 3.5m high built up and powder coated aluminium shapes and letters for a warehouse. Unfortunately we initially lost out on price and delivery times but the customer then returned to us, as the cheaper, machine made product supplied to them was found to be inadequate. Both the aesthetic quality and the strength and rigidity were not suitable for such a large and high level external installation.”

In this case it was found that to get sufficient thickness and a smooth finish with no visible marks from welding, only hand crafting would work.

One of their recent projects that needed some 'lateral thinking and innovation' to meet the brief, was supplying a client with a series of huge steel 'cogs' interlocked to represent a magnified version of the inner workings of a watch. The project was installed in the Tag Heuer Pavilion at the Goodwood Festival of speed.

About this and other high profile jobs, Rebecca said: “The only downside to consistently producing top quality signage, is that production times can sometimes be lengthy owing to the nature of hand made signs and our dedication to supplying products that meet our exacting standards.” This is where automation comes in for them for them as it means quicker turnaround and less costs. Although they are keen to stress that the machine will not compromise the quality of their work.

Rebecca said: “Our customer ought not to be able to distinguish between the hand machine made product without internal inspection. Research has taken several years for us to find a machine we are confident will produce built up letters to the same standard as our hand made products. With a significant increase in production capability we plan to offer our trade customers much faster quotations and shorter order to delivery times.

“Interestingly we do not see the addition of automation to our existing built up letter production as a means of reducing our workforce in order to save costs. Conversely as production of built up letter increases, it's likely that the requirements for complete signage packages will also increase, leading to needing more staff for general signage manufacture.”

Part of the cost of the new shaper and laser cutter was paid for with grant funding from the Leeds City Regional Local Enterprise Partnership Business Growth Programme (BGP). They give funding of 20 per cent of capital costs between £10,000 and £100,000 provided at least one new job is created. They envisage at least two will be created in the short term and continued growth should lead to another vacancy.

“There will always be some projects that are too large or complex for the new machines that will demand traditionally made hand shaped letters, and the skills required to build them,” says Rebecca.

“So at ICE we intend to continue to train and develop staff in the necessary skills for making beautiful, high quality signs.”

Benson Signs talks about letter bending machines

Chris Benson from Benson Signs did their research in 2004 and imported their machine from America in April 2005. As far as he knows they were the second company in the UK to buy a letter bending machine.

He said: "This particular machine was designed primarily to produce larger 'Trough Letters' and 'Logos' in aluminium. And in 2011 we belatedly recognised we needed a similar piece of kit to help manufacture smaller letters and logos.

So in May 2012 we invested in a smaller letter bender; this machine was made in South Korea. We continue to produce built up lettering by hand alongside the two machines. Over the years we've found that the equipment, if set up properly, greatly improves our production capacity. However on a cautionary note we would emphasise, as with most automated mechanical pieces of equipment, servicing is a key issue. Bearing this in mind it has been vitally important for us over the years that for the most part we been able to provide our own in-house maintenance. We use both pieces of equipment continually, on many projects."

The Channel Letter Bender

The Accu Clinch

The Channel Letter Bender's Accu-Clinch machine
  • Assemble: Built to quickly and easily fasten aluminum or light steel parts together, the Accu-Clinch is the fastest way to assemble metal components to create a completed channel letter. With the Accu-Clinch, your operators can attach a back to your channel letters in a matter of minutes.
  • Pressing: The Accu-Clinch uses a bottom punch and top die to press-form two pieces of material together without rivets, staples or stitches, cutting the cost of consumables
  • Job right: Cut the high cost of labor and consumables, and get the job done right with an Accu-Clinch.
The Channel Letter Bender diagram

More and more businesses are choosing to invest in a channel letter bender, which are still relatively new and being judged on its productivity versus the high costs. From talking to various sign makers, there are models available from America, South Korea, China and Poland. Selling American made machines in Europe is The Channel Letter Bender who say they first launched the Accu-bend 20 years ago.

Remko van Gellecum, from the company, said: "Our clients' return on investment speaks for itself. Accu-Bend reduces labour intensive hand fabrication, resulting in increased capacity and more revenue. With hundreds of Accu-Bend machines around the world, The Channel Letter Bender is recognised by the largest sign makers as the right choice for reliable, quality machines that save time and money. Made with a heavy steel-welded frame, these U.S.-manufactured machines are built to last. Made with top-quality components, high-grade materials and the latest technology, Accu-Bend continues to set the industry standard."

He said: "The Accu-Bend machine is the only machine in the world to notch, flange and bend the complete channel letter. Also if you manufacture welded letters, our machine will also bend those letters for you. The Accu-Bend can also bend every vector line of the most complicated letters identically. By hand you could not even bend two the same. The slight differences would cause you to create different letter faces matched to only fit one letter. In the future letters that need to be fixed can be done from the same computer file, you do not have to trace the letter and match it by hand."

Other machines in their range are the Accu-Bend Lite, the Accu-Clinch, the Accu-Cut and the Channelletter Former. The Channelletter Former produces channel letter faces, push through letters, moulded letters, and thermal-form signs and parts. The Accu-Clinch uses air-over-hydraulic power to attach aluminium backs to the side wall return. It does a quick 40 clinches per minute. The company claims it is the fastest way to assemble metal components to create a completed channel letter.

Features of the Accu-Bend

A complete computer system and swivel monitor comprise the control centre of the system. Simply import .DXF files, and your channel letters are created.

After installation and a short training session, most companies are able to run the full production the first day.

A dedicated hydraulic power system and dual-motor drive unit have extensive power and can feed up to 30 cm per second.

The Accu-Bend is easy to modify for any project. Operators can change coil heights in less than two minutes. The system can also accommodate a width or depth of channel letter coil between 2,5 cm and 24 cm.

Can handle aluminium up to 1,5mm thick and stainless steel up to 1 mm thick.

The optional Robotic Auto Pilot allows the machine to run multiple letters, unmanned, so you save on labour costs. The system completes letters, pulls them from the machine and starts again.

Should you need help operating or maintaining the support is available for as long as you own the machine.

Impact 3D Signs

A single built up letter created by Impact 3D Signs

Impact 3D Signs in Tyne and Wear, also specialise in supplying the sign trade with built up 3D lettering in acrylic; 316 marine grade stainless steel and brass and powder coated aluminium.

A notable job they are working on is making signs for a company who supply the oil industries. Some of the lettering is 2m tall and 250mm deep with removable rim faces and internal LEDs. A different kind of job is supplying mild steel built up letters with a recessed face and holes in for the client to add his own cabochon bulbs, which give it a fairground look.

Again service is vital to their business and they attribute their success to the core group of dedicated metal letter makers, some who have been with the company from the outset, 20 years ago. Kevin Washbourne from Impact 3D Signs says this enables them to fit rush jobs in as well as process their regular work. A sign of their craftsmen's skill is 'kiss cutting' the corners on a small serif typefaces to achieve a crisp corner.

Speaking about channel letter bending machines, Kevin said: "We have and are still considering a channel letter bending machine. We looked at importing one from China but feel these are still in their infancy and are not really suited to small one off letter work.

"We feel that the production of built up metal letters will lend itself to the automated system but we will still have our craftsmen to hand to do small runs that would be quicker than having to programme the machine."

Freebies giveaway at Stand M37

Here are three very good reasons to visit Sign Update's stand at this year's exhibition. (Besides the fact that we love coming out from behind our computers to have a proper chat with as many of you as possible!)

We have teamed up with three companies that supply the sign and display industry, to give away some fantastic freebies. And an exhibition wouldn't be the same without freebies, although there are only so many pens and stress balls a person can own.

Internally threaded screw coversAluminium Satin wall-fixing supplied by FK MooreFK Moore will be giving away a sample of their 12mm dia wall fixings (product code WF1220SAL - see their advert for details), along with their internally threaded screw cap (F15SAT). They have recently reduced their prices dramatically and can offer these at a starting price of £1 each and 60p each respectively.

They will be distributed from the Sign Update stand, presented in a box, where a copy of their accompanying literature can also be requested by leaving contact details.

They say: "We pride ourselves for our superb quality and extensive range which we feel makes us unique in the current market."

They also stock these fittings in brass material, with either a polished brass, polished chrome or satin chrome finish.

All the wall fixings that they supply are usually readily available from their extensive stock and can be delivered on a next day service. This gives peace of mind for fitters/stockists alike. They also welcome all enquiries for bespoke items to customers' specification.


SignClip TF being shown attached to part of a pole.SignClip TF, Wyzrds are providing about 1,000 sample packs for distribution from the Sign Update stand (one per visitor) until they run out. These are for anyone producing twin flute or corrugated plastic signs, (brand names - "Correx" or "Twinplast" in the UK or "Coroplast", "IntePro", "Corriflute", "Corflute" and "Corriboard", overseas)

The sample pack contains two fronts and two backs, which is enough to put up a sign. It's a low cost disposable product, suitable for anyone doing temporary signage. You can press it through from the front with your thumbs because it is a self penetrating clip. Once the two points are through the twinwall plastic board, you just snap the backplate on and it's done!

The clip is designed to avoid the normal practice of boring a couple of holes through the twinflute boards with a screwdriver and using a cable tie, to strap it tightly to the pole. This primitive method usually distorts and tears the board and provides an unsatisfactory loose fixing for the sign. The SignClip successfully separates fixing from display. What are they worth? At just 20p a clip they come in bulk bags of 100 clips for £20 per bag.

Eurobond Surface Cleaning Wipes50 samples of 12ml penloc 2-part adhesive to be given away.Eurobond have given Sign Update 25 pots of their specialist Eurobond Surface Cleaning Wipes. These will be given to the first 25 people who reserve them by emailing us, then you can collect one at the exhibition.

These heavy duty cleaning wipes are ideally suited for cleaning all surfaces prior to bonding. Each 64gsm wipe is made of a special low lint material and impregnated with a blend of 70 per cent Isopropyl Alcohol and 30 per cent de-ionised water. The 'Flip Top' pot contains 100 wipes. Each pot is worth £8.74p plus vat.

Eurobond have also given us 50 sample cartridges of their 12ml Penloc® 2-part, high performance structural adhesive. This syringe can be used to bond most metals, plastics, glass, ceramic, composite, GRP, Dibond, Foamex and wood in any combination. Handling strength in five minutes. Working strength in one hour.They are worth £3.57p plus vat.

If you would like to pick up these products at the exhibition, you can do so by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To see these products visit

V-grooved, folded edges on Aluminium Composite

Tools used:
  • Hand held router
  • Aluminium ruler with a steel edge
  • Stanley knife
Aluminium Composite being routed with a v-groove by a hand held router Aluminium Composite - V-grooved, folded with just the excess left to be removed.

Aluminium Composite is the only sheet material I tend to stock in several colours, and is my sheet material of choice, because it is so easy to work with. But getting a good enough edge can be a problem!

One of the things that I struggled with at first was cutting it. But I have really got to grips with it to produce a nice finish.

The best tip I have learnt up until now is to snap the ACM. To do this, you cut through aluminium skin and half way into the PE core, then snap it off. The edge that is snapped off will have a good edge, but the other side will have a bit of a lip on it as the blade separates the aluminium. So when you start always cut into the no-facing side.

Another piece of advice I got about a year ago, and then came across it again recently, is to v-groove the ACM with a hand held router and then fold it back on itself, and remove the excess.

There are two variations for this. I struggled with the method on the right hand side, as this meant folding the ACM in a small z-shape. But in theory you should be able to snap off the excess and get a better edge.

Diagram showing how to V-groove and fold edges of Aluminium Composite. Diagram showing how to V-groove and fold edges of Aluminium Composite.
  1. V-groove and then cut where the blue line is at the edge of the v-groove. This cut should ideally be all the way through the PE core, and possibly further to score the final layer of aluminium. Following the left, you don't need to cut so deep with the blade, and then you just keep folding it back on itself which was easier to do. And I used a blade to help the excess break off. On the right hand side you need to cut even deeper all the way through the PE core, and ideally further to score the final layer of aluminium.
  2. Fold along the v-groove.
  3. Snap off the excess. Following the left hand side I needed a blade to help cut-off the excess.

In doing this research and talking to a few sign-makers, I have heard that you can get ACM with a transparent PE core. Although never bought any yet, this sounds like a really good option. It would eliminate the black edges on white sheets, which really stand out like a 'sore thumb', and make the requirement for this technique less important.

Aluminium Composite being cut with a blade.

Will I be doing this on all my ACM sheets?

My router is set up with the v-groove permanently ready to do this, which reduces my set up time. But it still takes a little while to do. I need a proper work bench, so until I do I think I will just do this on the smaller panels that are looked at quite closely and that are at eye height.

If I had the height, I would probably get a Sagetech vertical panel saw, which would then give me a nice edge from the start.

I think in future, I will have a go doing it with the technique on the right hand side as should give a better finish.

If you have any feed back on this technique or any other tips you would like to recommend, I would love to hear from you. Phone, visit us at Sign & Digital UK (M37) or email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Aluminium Composite sheet with a good edge - V-grooved and folded over.

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