As the company’s only Solutions Analyst and resident engineer, I have the privilege to work on some very unique projects here at Suttle-Straus that require design and engineering in three dimensions. Each has brought their own challenges, and requires finding a solution that tackles as many of those challenges as possible.
In the end, 3D displays provide a visual impact that goes beyond flat signage. Letting customers interact with your message makes your brand sticky in their minds. Here are some examples of 3D projects that stand out above the rest:
100 Years Display [above]: The Dane County Humane Society was seeking a display to recognize their 100th anniversary and had some specific requests: It needed to be lightweight but durable, and able to withstand all four seasons in Wisconsin. For these reasons, we chose corrugated plastic as the interior structure, as well as for the front and back faces of the display. We used lamination to protect the printing from the outdoor elements. A flexible styrene was used to wrap the side profiles of each of the letters. We integrated some PVC piping into the subframe, so the three sections of the display could be slid over fence posts secured into the ground.
Dimensional Photo-Op Lettering: We were tasked with creating a oversized photo-op display that could break down and ship to events, including an annual franchise convention, but still be impactful in an open space. We used a combination of layers of foam board, with vinyl wrapped around the profiles. We cut channels into the middle layers so we could slide the letters onto the modular base and secure them in place and provide the consistent letter spacing. Clear acrylic rods were used to “float” the letters and heart above, without the connections detracting from the finished appearance. What’s not to love?
Gold Bar Prize Reveal: Sometimes the simplest solution is the best, and in this case it was. Ho-Chunk Gaming wanted to incorporate a gold element for a prize reveal casino floor promotion. A mirrored gold vinyl was applied to scored heavyweight card stock, which was then wrapped around a wood body to give it a solid feel. A strip of magnet held the wrap in place until the prize was ready to be revealed on the inside cover by the winner.
Book Store Scoreboard Display: The University Book Store was looking to play up an idea of the cash register being in the center of a sports arena and asked us to create a large “scoreboard” display to hang above the checkout TVs. It incorporated the team logos of the college conference. Using PVC, printed styrene and aluminum faced composite board, we came up with the hanging centerpiece for the store. The scoreboard display needed to be light enough to attach to the existing TV support structure, without adding too much weight to it. It also had to be assembled on site. Using conical geometry we were able to maximize the use of the flexible materials to effectively cover up all of the structure. The dimensional lettering put a nice finishing touch on the display.
Astronaut Photo Op Display: Another client tasked us with creating a durable astronaut photo-op standee with a look and feel of being on another planet. This display had a designated spot in a tradeshow booth, which limited the footprint that it could occupy. Using the semi-ridged form of the PVC panels, the panels were able to be slotted together while holding a curved profile to allow them to be self-standing. By incorporating two large acrylic domes to act as spacesuit helmets, we were able to add a fun interactive aspect to the standee. The display was a huge hit and the customer appreciated the extra touches that we incorporated into it.
Designing 3D displays have some additional challenges that have to be taken into account from the beginning to make these projects successful:
- Sizing – The amount of space available for the display will help determine how it should be laid out. It should also be noted how close viewers will be from the display for visibility. Will they be across the room or across the street?
- Weight – If the display needs to hang, weight is a serious structure and safety factor. Also, more weight leads to higher shipping costs if it needs to travel to an event.
- Longevity – A display for a one-time indoor event can be made of cheap materials, ideally that can be recycled. But if it is meant for multiple uses, a long-term display, or an outdoor event we would make different choices on materials and structure. We always want it to look as good on its last day, as it did on its first day.
- Logistics – Remember to consider how it will get to where it is supposed to be. Can it break down flat? Does it fit through standard-sized doors? How many people will it require to assemble?