PM Signs - Traffic Signage

What Is Traffic Signage?

PM Traffic Signage

Traffic signage is the broad term for all the signs that tell a driver where to go and how to drive. They keep roadways safe and allow drivers to be confident in their navigation. Traffic signs can also be used in parking lots and parking garages to keep the flow of traffic consistent and allow people to find their vehicles.

How Big Is It?

There are many different sized traffic signs. There are billboard sized traffic signs along highways and major roadways, street signs that vary in size but are smaller and used on city streets and throughout residential areas, and signs such as stop signs, yield signs, etc. that manage the flow of traffic. Each type of sign in itself will be the same size everywhere you go, but there is clearly a lot of diversity between sign types.


What Is It Made Of?

There are many materials that go into the making of traffic signs, and they compose three main components. Retroreflective sheeting is always included, as this is the component that allows the light from vehicle headlights to reflect back towards the driver at night to make the sign more visible. Retroreflective sheeting is used for two purposes; it is used as the material for background sheeting, and the sign copy (letters, symbols, etc. for the sign) will be cut from this material as well. Background sheeting will be applied to something called a blank during the manufacturing process, and the blank is the main frame of the sign.


There are a few different materials that the blank can be made from. Plywood, aluminum, and steel are the most common materials chosen for this component. Plywood is the most affordable option, but it isn’t as durable as the alternatives. It is quite a strong material, but its porous nature makes it more vulnerable to weather damage over time. To protect this material from degrading too quickly, it must be covered by a thin layer of plastic to add some waterproofness. Aluminum is a better option for a blank material since it is highly durable and won’t rust, but it does come with a problem of its own. Since it is so lightweight, it is easily buffeted around by strong winds and storms, and it is more easily bent than other materials. As a result, it must be reinforced during the manufacturing process by metal braces to improve its structural integrity. This is also the most expensive material for signs. The best material for traffic signs is therefore steel. It is more economical than aluminum and more durable than both aluminum and plywood. To prevent it from rusting, a simple coat of zinc needs to be applied.

Why Is This Sign Type Needed?

Traffic signs are incredibly, incredibly important for keeping roadways safe. Having consistent instructions and directions allows drivers to know how fast is safe for a certain stretch of road, when they are meant to stop and yield to look for other traffic, where they are allowed to park and where they aren’t, and how to get to their destinations. Plus, they allow people to give out directions that are specific and actually helpful. They also prevent people from getting lost in resorts and conservation areas, and can mark locations in large mall parking lots, airports, and more. The value of traffic signs is certainly indescribable, but we gave it our best effort.

When Was This Sign Type Invented and Why?

In the early 1900’s, American citizens began forming automobile clubs. Each club had claims to certain sections of highway and roadways, and they all began using different types of signs with different meanings. They were all intended to warn drivers of hazards and direct them on their travels, but the sign diversity just ended up creating confusion. In 1924, this project was taken over by the Bureau of Public Roads, and that is when the traffic sign industry found some uniformity. Since reflective technology was not yet invented, they decided to use yellow signs for warnings, and white signs for all other purposes. These colours are still in use today, as a matter of fact, with some additions of course. Later on, reflective beads were added to signs to make nighttime driving safer. Today, we have reflective sheeting and lettering; this technology has been around since 1939, but didn’t reach today’s standards until 1989.


Types of Traffic Signage

There are six main types of traffic signs that should be mentioned. These include regulatory signs, warning signs, guide signs, information signs, construction signs, and service/attraction signs.


Regulatory signs are one of the most important types for keeping roadways safe. These signs are the ones that tell drivers how fast to go, when to stop, and when to yield to other drivers. They communicate all the rules of the road to drivers. You will most commonly see this type of sign in black and white, like speed limits, or red and white, like stop signs.


Warning signs are the ones that indicate potential hazards up ahead. They can call attention to school zones, animal crossings, and even the potential for avalanches. These signs are always yellow in background with black lettering or symbols.


Guide signs are characterized by green backgrounds and white lettering. They are used to tell drivers about nearby transportation hubs (airport, ferry, train, etc.), emergency services, and information such as route numbers, directions to certain locations, and distances to relevant and notable destinations such as major cities along a highway.


Information signs are all about points of interest. They can mark places for drivers to stop and rest or where to take memorable photos of their trip. They can also provide information about important cultural or geographical places nearby. These information signs have more text than most other types of traffic control signs since people are able to take more time to read them without consequences.


Construction signs are quite self-explanatory. They are used to alert drivers to the presence of construction work nearby. They are not on roadways all the time, but they are extremely important for worker and driver safety. These signs can indicate detour routes, the type of work going on, hazards like grooved roads or raised potholes, and when to slow down or switch lanes. These signs are orange in color with black text or images.


Service/attraction signs will be blue and white in color, and they are very similar to information signs. They let drivers know what essentials are nearby, things like food, gas, and places to stay.

How Is Traffic Signage Made?

Traffic signs are highly regulated, and this is essential to guarantee consistency for drivers and a widespread understanding of what different signs mean. If there were different signs in ever city or province, no one would ever be able to safely travel because they would have no understanding of the signs in that area. Let’s take a look at how traffic signs are made all across North America.


What Is the Manufacturing Process Like?

The manufacturing of traffic signs is a multi-step process. It begins with preparation for the blank, which is the main frame material for the sign. The blank will be cut from a larger sheet of steel or aluminum. A metal shear machine can be used, or a band saw. Once the blank is fully cut out, the corners will be rounded for safety, and any necessary holes for mounting will be either drilled or punched into the sheet. Once this part of the manufacturing process is done, the blank needs to be carefully examined. The manufacturer will be looking for defects and contamination; both tape and a water test will be used to ensure there is nothing on the surface of the blank that can negatively affect the next step. All blanks will be degreased in order to remove fingerprints and ensure a spotless surface for adhering the second component.


The retroreflective sheet is the next sign component that needs to be taken care of. Retroreflective sheets are black or white and can be cut individually with scissors, knives, or a paper cutter. Stacks of retroreflective sheets will be cut simultaneously using a band saw. Once the retroreflective sheets are the size and shape they need to be, applicable letters and symbols will be punched out of the sheet. This can be done by hand or via a machine called a clicker press.


Now that both sign components are complete, it is time to put them together. The film off the back of the retroreflective sheet will be removed swiftly, and then it will be placed adhesive-side down on the blank. The sign will be rolled by a machine to eliminate air bubbles and ensure that perfect adhesion takes place. The edges of the sign will then be trimmed. Now comes the final touches. This can differ depending on which type of retroreflective sheeting is used.


Heat-sensitive adhesive requires the use of heat lamp vacuum applicators. The sign will be placed in the machine for one minute, and then allowed to cool before the sign copy and border are added to the sign. Air bubbles will be eliminated at this step as well. The sign will be covered by a plastic slip-sheet and will be placed back in the machine for another minute. Now, the sign is complete! Pressure-sensitive adhesives can also be used, which would slightly alter this process.


There are a handful of other techniques that can be used throughout this process, such as etching, silk screening, and colouring processes. Colors can be added to the retroreflective sheets in order to make signs distinct and noticeable; it will be added at the liquid phase.


How Can Traffic Signage Be Customized?

Since there are laws regulating traffic sign installment, you won’t have as much freedom here as you would with other sign types. You can have input on the sign content, but the size of the sign and its materials will all be determined by the regulations of your city. If you are purchasing signs for use on private property, you can be more flexible with all of its features, including content, color scheme, material, and sizing.

What Is the Price Range?

For all flat sheet panels used to construct traffic signs, the price will be between $25 and $35 per square foot. For more sophisticated signs that require some framework, the price will be a bit higher, between $30 and $40 per square foot. As with most sign types, the larger the sign or project, the higher the price will be. This accounts for both extra materials required and the greater amount of labor that is needed to complete the sign/project.


Our Traffic Signage Manufacturing Service

If you hire us to help bring your traffic signage visions to life, we promise you a few things. We premise to deliver your product(s) in a timely fashion, and with a professional quality that is unbeatable. We guarantee satisfaction, so if you are unhappy with the design, finished product, or installation, we promise to do everything we can to make it right. If you change your mind in the middle of a project, we can offer you a quick turnaround without compromising on the quality of the finished items.


We will work with the city, building owners, and other companies if we need to in order to accomplish your goals and bring your vision to life. We will value your input at every step of the process and ensure you are aware and approve of any changes that need to be made along the way. No matter what kind of traffic signage you need, or how large the project is, we are dedicated to offering you our best performance at all times.


Our traffic signage manufacturing process ensures that your custom sign is completed on time and without error. Plus, we’ll stick to your budget without fail. We understand how important your sign is to your business, and that’s why your business is important to us.