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Why Aluminum and NOT Plastic etc

WHY ALUMINUM signs, and not plastic, fiberglass, steel or wood signs?

STEEL Until the 1940’s, signs were made using this metal. The major drawback of steel signs is, of course, is that they will ALWAYS RUST. Although the “better” steel traffic signs of the 1950's were coated with porcelain, galvanized or painted with the best primers and enamel paint available, signs made out of steel back then (and still today) will rust; especially on the edges and around the sign mounting holes, causing streaks of rust to “flow” down the sign causing unsightly stains and will prematurely age the sign. Furthermore, although steel signs resist bending, they are extremely heavy and do not dissipate heat, causing the sign face to ‘overheat’ and crack and fade. Consequently, steel signs are seldom used today.

PLASTIC Although immune to rain and snow and will not rust, plastic signs are extremely susceptible to damage due to heat and sunlight. Plastic sign will crack and will need to be replaced, often within a couple of years in sunny, hot climates.

FIBERGLASS Like plastic signs, they are immune to rain and snow. Fiberglass signs will withstand heat and sunlight better than plastic signs, but fibers will detach, causing severe skin irritation after prolonged exposure to the sun. Eventually fiberglass signs will prematurely crack and will need to be replaced.

WOOD Arguably, wood signs, especially those that are carved, produce the nicest looking signs. Unfortunately they are extremely susceptible to damage due to rain, snow, heat and sunlight causing them to become unsightly within a few years and in need of replacement, require extensive maintenance and are seldom, if ever, reflective.

ALUMINUM It is no coincidence that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and all 50 state Department of Transportation and all highway departments require aluminum signs for all traffic and parking signs. Aluminum signs will NOT RUST (although they can produce aluminum oxide, a.k.a. “white rust” if not properly treated with a chromate conversion process), and are perfectly suited for reflective sheetings required for traffic signs and desired for most custom signs. Aluminum signs are lightweight, but strong, and is the #1 substrate for WET and also SUNNY / HOT climates.

At ARA Signs, we ONLY use Aluminum to make our signs; the most durable, longest lasting material for signs.

But not just “any aluminum”; we only use

  • 0.080” (or 0.100” and 0.125” thick aluminum for very large signs by special order; we NEVER use thin 0.063” or 0.040” aluminum)
  • Alcoa™ 5052-H38 aluminum (the alloy and hardness specified by the FHWA and state DOTs) that meets ASTM B-209 standards.
  • We NEVER use 3000 series recycled aluminum or any other inferior alloy that does not meet FHWA and DOT standards
  • Chromate conversion process (Alodine™ 1200) coated aluminum to minimize the formation of aluminum oxide (“white rust”)

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