3D Printed Braille Signs
Over the last few years we have seen an increase in 3d printed Braille signs being specified by Architects & being installed on sites. At Braille Sign Supplies we DO NOT produce 3d printed signs, even though we have the equipment, the means & the know how to produce 3d printed Braille Signs, we do not view this production method as suitable for the quality of Braille Signage we aim to send out to our customers. We have done extensive testing as an attempt to overcome the issues we have found with 3d printing Braille Signage & have come to the conclusion that 3d printing Braille Signs is extensively flawed as a production process & is only suitable for short term Braille Signage.
3D printing Braille Signs are produced by using UV printers to build up layers of ink to form a Tactile Braille sign. This process is being pushed heavily by many printer manufacturers as an “add on” ability for sign manufacturers who are considering buying a UV printer for general signage production. The UV Printer produces a Braille Sign relatively quick when compared to some of our production methods & without a lot of labour. This allows for a much cheaper Braille Sign. With our testing & from what we are seeing from other Business’s Braille Signs is that by building the layers of ink up to the minimum 1mm in height, the inks adhesion easily fails after repeated use of end users rubbing their fingers over the tactile elements. The 1mm height of the ink also acts as leverage when touched repeatedly, causing the element to fall off, particularly on thinner characters where there isn’t a lot of area for ink adhesion.
Apart from raised elements falling off we are seeing a lot of 3d printed Braille Signs that have been installed with banding. Banding is common with any type of digital printing & is caused by some of the print nozzles being blocked preventing the printer applying an even coat of ink. With 3d printed Braille signs this issue magnifies when layers of banded ink are repeatedly applied on top of each other to create the tactile element. The end result is a raised element with tactile grooves or bands that can be seen & felt
Every business selling Braille Signs claim to be selling compliant Braille Signs, many will also go onto state the required standards the signs are claimed to be made to, the reality is there are very few suppliers who are selling fully compliant Braille Signs from what we are seeing. By buying a UV printer a business quickly has the ability to produce raised tactile signage regardless of their understanding of compulsory requirements for Braille Signage. There is a lot more to producing a compliant Braille sign than just raised graphics. We are seeing the full gamut of fundamental design flaws with installed 3d printed Braille Signs causing the Braille Signs to be non-compliant to mandatory standards. Some of the design flaws we are seeing are quite basic design errors, as well as issues with text sizes & heights, through to incorrect sizes of Braille Domes & also very concerningly, incorrect Braille translations.
At Braille Sign Supplies we pride ourselves on being the most progressive Braille Sign manufacturer in the country. We have been specialising in producing Braille Signs for over 20 years now, & continue to raise the bar with what is achievable with Braille Signage while remaining compliant to required standards. In the last 20 years we have been constantly refining our own production methods, evaluated new emerging production processes along with using our knowledge & experience to develop & patent a world first production process for forming continuous faced Metal Braille Signs we called BrailleFace. Over the last 12 months we had been receiving regular requests from customers to replace failed 3d printed Braille signs on projects around once a week, that has now increased & we are currently being requested to replace failed 3d printed Braille signs almost daily.
A lot of our customers are other signage companies & a simple comparison between our moulded Acrylic Braille Signs & 3d printed Braille Signs would be if you were to wrap 2 identical cars, the first in premium cast vinyl, the second in cheaper calendered vinyl. When you roll the 2 completed vehicles out of your workshop they will look somewhat similar, but you know the 2nd vehicle wrapped in the cheaper calendered vinyl will soon start to shrink, lift & crack. No reputable signage company will put their name to this type of work & that is exactly how we feel about 3d printed Braille Signs.
Like anything in life, you get what you pay for.