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There are new “Boise Spectrum” signs all over the Edwards 21 complex, and they look pretty slick. Though the signs belong to Boise, they were made in Nampa.

Soon there will be new parking garage signs adorning the new Nampa Library — those are also locally made.

All were made by Image National, located not far from the Ford Idaho Center. The business has been in the Treasure Valley for more than 40 years, but moved from Boise to Nampa about eight years ago for more space and to accommodate many employees who live in Canyon County. The 65,000-square-foot facility pumps out signs and banners every day for companies across the country and local entities. About 95 percent of Image National’s work leaves Idaho, but it has designed and made signs for The Village at Meridian, the JUMP project in downtown Boise and the College of Western Idaho. The largest project the company has ever done was for the Denver Broncos football team, which included 17 signs around the Mile High Stadium and the main logo, which measures more than 2,000 square feet.

More than 90 employees work in the process to bring a sign from concept to reality. Here's a look at how that comes together.

Image National Signs

THE DESIGN PROCESS

Image National Signs

A company contacts Image National with a concept already in mind or for help designing a sign. Depending on what the client needs, a designer will come up with an idea or start determining the details of the product. Among those considerations are where the sign might go on the building and what the elevation would be, what kind of lighting it might need, the square footage of the layout and other details. 

Image National Signs

A detailed materials list and estimate of hours needed for labor is created, as well as a schedule for completion. Often the most time-consuming element is the permitting process that takes place at the city government level, according to Chad Waite, production manager at Image National. From start to finish, it's about three months of work for one sign on average. 

THE LABOR PROCESS

Image National Signs

A sign can be made of a variety of materials, and it can have various materials inside. Many are made of aluminum with a Plexiglass or polycarbonate face. The supporting structure may be made of thick support steel depending on where it will be placed and what elements it will have to endure.

Image National Signs

Though most of the process is handmade, some interior parts that make up a sign are cut out with a machine that looks similar to an engraving machine. That helps speed up the process and cut down on labor hours, Waite said. 

Image National Signs
Image National Signs

Depending on the type of sign, workers then set about putting the interior parts together. The steel frame, the aluminum to reflect lighting, the polycarbonate face. Or for a vinyl sign, the digitally printed letters are peeled away. For a sign with separated letters, the outline is given a plastic molding called trim cap to give it a three-dimensional look. The trim cap is secured in place and then attached to the main frame. 

Image National Signs

Though most of the process is handmade, some interior parts that make up a sign are cut out with a machine that looks similar to an engraving machine. That helps speed up the process and cut down on labor hours, Waite said.

Image National Signs

If the sign needs lighting, a worker will wire LED lights throughout the sign, and some are given drain holes to make sure the lights don't become flooded and burned out. It can take about 14 feet of LED lights to completely wire an average-size sign. Some lights have automatic shutoff and turn-on capabilities as well, Waite said, so when the sun rises, the lights turn off. That saves energy and cuts costs for businesses.

A sign can also have on average seven fluorescent lamps.

Image National Signs

When a sign is finished, depending on its size, it is loaded up on a truck and shipped out to its destination. 

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