Runway/taxiway signage lightbox replica
April 12, 2006 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions needed for painting on a piece of plastic or plexiglass which would be lit from behind.

I find airport runway guidance signage oddly compelling from an aesthetic standpoint. I especially like the sedate glow on a nighttime runway, the font, and the cryptic letters and arrows. I get sort of a 2001: A Space Odyssey feel off them.

I would like to make a lightbox replica of one or two signs, but I figure for the I need to paint plastic or plexi to do so. What I would like is advice on how to do this so that the colors are solid and not streaky as the light shines through them, and perhaps what kind of paint I would need to use.
posted by oflinkey to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
Your link is broken in such a way that I can't figure out where it's supposed to go. Can you re-post it?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:33 PM on April 12, 2006

Ach, sure. Sorry. Here.
Runway Guidance Signs.
posted by oflinkey at 8:36 PM on April 12, 2006

Instead of painting, you might try getting your hands on some self-adhesive plastic film of some sorts and cut your designs into the film and then apply it to the plexi.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 8:43 PM on April 12, 2006

This stuff might be just the ticket!

good luck!
posted by extrabox at 9:35 PM on April 12, 2006

If you can find a professional sign shop, they can cut the letters into self-adhering plastic film using a plotter, you'll need to provide some sort of EPS files. Another alternative would be to silk screen it (onto the inside of the plex). Painting this with spray paint will be tough. You'll need to use some sort of masking material (airbrush frisket paper would be ideal), but you'll need to cut out the frisket after it's applied to the plex and this scar the plex. You could use glass instead of plex.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:10 PM on April 12, 2006

If you go to a craft store, there's usually a section that has some make-your-own stained-glass-looking project materials. Years ago, I helped someone paint on plexiglass with some of those materials & the surface wasn't streaky at all. There are even borders you fill in that stick on that are supposed to look like lead trim.
posted by Alpenglow at 6:50 AM on April 13, 2006

If money is not an issue, then you could make a vector graphic of your artwork with Illustrator. You can then send it to a digital printer and have them print it on acetate to the appropraite size.
posted by JJ86 at 7:22 AM on April 13, 2006

This is done commercially with pigmented UV inks and translucent plastic plotter media (sometimes self adhesive). I'd phone around to sign/printing shops and inquire about prices. We used to charge $40-60 per square foot plus a setup fee. The result would be garranteed by HP to not fade even in direct sunlight for two years.
posted by Mitheral at 8:01 AM on April 13, 2006

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