Should your sign shop get into sign fabrication? It’s a question that every sign shop owner has wondered about from time to time.
At shopVOX, we find that the people who ask this question are those with vinyl sign companies that make mostly banners, plexiglass signs, corrugated plastic signs, and products such as flags.
These are strong products on which to base your business because they tend to offer strong margins.
However, if you want to take that next step in your sign innovation and ultimately grow your business, you’re going to want to get into sign fabrication. That is to say, you’ll need to learn how to make channel letter signs, cabinet signs, lightbox signs, and all the general metal fabrication that is included in this part of the industry.
If this sounds like the direction you want to take your sign shop, let shopVOX explain what you need to know to get there, including how to utilize our print shop software to make it all easier to manage!
Know the Margin Differences
The first thing you should know if you want to make the jump from vinyl signs to sign fabrication is that you are probably in for a difference in margins.Add New
When you’re working in vinyl signs, you’re probably working jobs worth a few hundred dollars each. With figures like that, your margins can safely be 60%, 70%, or anywhere in those areas.
With sign fabrication, you’ll be moving into a high-ticketed sector of the business. Each fabrication job might be worth anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 or so, and your margins might now be only 30%.
Prepare to Expand
The upside of this, though, is that you will be getting into a market in which you can legitimately be a full-fledged, comprehensive sign operation.
You should be aware that with those higher sights you have set for your shop comes the need to expand. Once you get into sign fabrication, you will have to invest a lot of capital into the equipment you will need and the physical space to operate. You will probably need warehouse space or a second location in which to do this work. You’ll also likely need to hire more staff to assist with the increased complexity of your operations.
What to Expect
The following are some items to be aware of as you take your sign shop into the realm of sign fabrication.
Sheet Metal Brake
One of the first things you will need to purchase is an 8-to-10-foot sheet metal brake, which allows you to bend sheet metal for your signs. Every sign shop that is working in sign fabrication uses a sheet metal brake. You can expect to pay about $4,000 for one.
The next piece of equipment you’ll need is a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. This will allow you to use a computer to control the operations of machine tools. You can spend more money for the best in the business, or you can go for a CNC router on a budget. Sometimes, a budget CNC machine will come with a kit showing you how to assemble and use the machine.
If you go with a Laguna CNC machine, choose the Swift MT model. This CNC router can perform precision cutting, which comes in handy with substrate cuts.
Automatic Channel Letter Bending Machine
Finally, an automatic channel letter bending machine that can pump out letters by the minute will be better for you than one that takes hours to make a set. You may spend close to $9,000 for one of these, but if you are getting into channel lettering, and you want to make several sets per week rather than per month, then this is a necessary tool.
If you’re seriously considering getting into sign fabrication, you owe it to yourself to put the time into making the right decision. Look at your local competitors. Will sign fabrication put you over the edge competitively? Will it be a worthwhile endeavor for you in the sign industry?
When you eventually make this decision and enter the exciting world of fabrication, don’t forget that shopVOX’s print shop software is there to help you keep everything organized!