Designing a sign for your business or storefront takes more than an artistic eye. Without the right material, what was once shiny and new will soon grow tired and dull. Granted, it’s tough to beat the mellow patina of copper or brass signage, and there’s certainly a place for the rustic look of carbon steel after it’s spent a few years in the rain and sun, but sometimes a more modern look is desired. One of the best materials to accomplish this? Stainless steel.
With five distinct metallurgical classes and dozens of grades to choose from, stainless steel is used for millions of applications and found practically everywhere. The medical industry uses stainless steel because it’s both biocompatible and easily sterilized. Airplane manufacturers use it for turbine components, automakers make exhaust systems and trim pieces from stainless steel, the oil and gas industry uses it in valves and piping. The crown of the Chrysler Building in New York is made of stainless steel, as is Singapore’s Helix Bridge. The list goes on.
Without getting into the metallurgical weeds, stainless steel’s corrosion resistance is due to its relatively high chromium content. Its strength comes from a similarly high percentage of nickel. Grade 304, for example, contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel, which is why you’ll also hear it called 18/8 stainless. Chances are good that your kitchen cookware is made of 304 SS (short for stainless steel), as well as the heat exchanger in your furnace, the tanks used to brew your favorite ale, the propeller that drives your fishing boat. Again, stainless steel is everywhere.
Most stainless steels—304 SS among them—are non-magnetic. That’s why your refrigerator poetry kit won’t stick. Provided you have an arc welder, the right filler metal, and are reasonably skilled, most stainless steels are quite weldable. This is an important consideration when designing the sign for your new bike shop, as you’ll probably need a way to mount it to the building’s façade. You might accomplish this with a series of L-shaped brackets welded to the back, although a hole in each corner would probably work just as well (be sure to use stainless steel bolts to attach the thing to the wall).
That’s the other thing about 304 SS and it’s tougher, more corrosion resistant, and commensurately more expensive cousin, 316 stainless. All that nickel makes them darned difficult to machine. If you’ve been tasked with drilling the aforementioned mounting holes in a stainless steel sign, you’ll need a sharp drill and a strong arm. The good news is, signs like those made at SendCutSend are all laser-cut, and lasers care naught for material strength or shine potential; lasers slice through stainless steel with impunity.
Stainless steel is also good for the environment. When you expand your bike store to include sporting goods or open a hang-gliding division, you’ll be happy to know that you can sell your now obsolete sign to a metal recycler and order a replacement. In fact, around half of all stainless steel comes from reprocessed scrap metal, all without losing any of its original luster.
It’s for all these reasons that SendCutSend counts Grade 304 stainless steel as our favorite metal for decorative and corrosion-resistant parts, including signage. Recognizing the importance of aesthetic options, we offer the material in regular, mirrored, and grained finishes, making it a cost-effective and attractive (literally) choice for a broad range of applications. Of course, anodized aluminum might also be an excellent choice, or even titanium, provided you have a few extra bucks to spend. Whatever the case, give us a call to discuss these and other options. We’ll help your business shine.