Acrylic and signage have gone hand-in-hand for decades.

With strength, light weight, weather resistance, a whole kaleidoscope of colour options and a glowing reputation for illumination, the material is chosen the world over for eye-catching signs, indoors or out.

For our commercial team at Lucite International China (LICC), the Sign China show in Shanghai (or “the Oscars of the signage industry”) is the perfect place to help the entire acrylic value chain show how signage can brighten your day-to-day life.

This year, obviously, things have been a little different for the show. Instead of hosting thousands of visitors at a booth, a live broadcast we hosted has reached thousands of people remotely instead!

Pictured: no longer just functional, signage made by companies like ENZO in China brings to life increasingly complex designs and corporate identities.

Mickey Zheng, LICC’s Market Development Manager, is here to tell you more about how the industry is changing and what this means…

“Traditionally, acrylic signage is mainly used outdoors but in China, acrylic is being used more and more with indoor decorative signage and lighting to inform, direct people or set a mood. For the next few years, new trends are coming along for acrylic, both indoors and outdoors.”

An example, Mickey says, is that end-products in signage are becoming bigger, heavier, more eye-catching and much more ambitious. While this is great for the acrylic industry, it poses challenges for the fabricators bringing these grand designs to life, so it’s important that we help them play more active roles in the acrylic value chain.

So, we teamed up with some key partners to deliver our broadcast. Here’s what we learned from the sessions…

How does special fabrication equipment help acrylic’s new applications?

Dongguan Mintech Electronic Technology Co. Ltd led this session, sharing the three major considerations for acrylic signage right now…

Bigger size, more glazed surfaces and more weight to bear. This comes from the growing use of acrylic in swimming pools, building decoration, commercial space and cultural tourism. As the trend is reaching signage, it will call for more and more specialist equipment and skills.

Impact resistance and toughened acrylic sheet

Xin-Color shared this update, focusing on the acrylic’s performance compared with polycarbonate. Zhehong Guo, Xin-Color’s General Manager, says:

“If we can improve acrylic’s impact resistance, it will shift some of the demand for polycarbonate to acrylic.” His team have already held several tests to achieve this and, so far, they’ve successfully developed a toughened acrylic product with over twice as much impact strength.

Acrylic’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic

Back in May, we told you about our leading response to the COVID-19 crisis in China, helping acrylic become available in as many public places as possible to slow the spread of the virus. Our very own Mickey Zheng led a session on this important challenge, and how acrylic’s excellent surface hardness and clarity (clearer than glass!) suits it to the task.

What’s more, acrylic used in “COVID screens” has to withstand disinfectant cleaning every single day. Grace Shen, Laboratory Manager, showcased an experiment which showed how acrylic sheet soaked for two hours in disinfectant produced no cracks or swelling.

A very important quality for something trusted by so many businesses to protect you!

Acrylic and the language of art

From the functional to the spectacular in the final session, Zhonghua Huang, CEO of ENZO, showed a different side to acrylic in signage.

A growing number of hugely innovative projects are calling on acrylic to make creative ideas come to life. Mainly, Zhonghua says, in modern shopping malls, museums, exhibitions, hotels and more.

What’s next for acrylic in signage?

David WU, LICC’s General Manager, has his eye firmly on acrylic being used with LED lighting in an ever-growing range of indoor and outdoor signage. He says:

“With more and more mega-malls opening in China, acrylic with light not only highlights shop branding and customer directions, it can also be fine-tuned to create very specific shopping or dining moods. By using acrylic, signage can get what it really needs – light, without a visible light source.”