Grimco - Education

Grimco is a national sign supply company focused on distributing quality products to the sign industry.

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Grimco Education

Sign & Reflective Sheeting 101:

Grimco Education RA Type I Engineer Grade Prismatic - EGP Reflective:
  • Material reflects at night when light hits it
  • Signs will not rust
  • 5-7 year life
  • For non critical signs
HIA Type III High Intensity Prismatic - HIP Reflective:
  • Material reflects at night when light hits it
  • Ten times more reflective than Type I
  • Signs will not rust
  • 10 year average life
  • Meets most State and Federal D.O.T. specifications
DG Type XI Diamond Grade Prismatic - DG Reflective:
  • Material highly reflects at night when light hits it
  • Ten times more reflective than Type I
  • Signs will not rust
  • 10+ year average life depending on color
  • Meets most State and Federal D.O.T. specifications

New Required Reflectivity Levels:

For parking signs
Use engineer grade reflective film
For any traffic or street name signs
Use high intensity prismatic or diamond grade reflective film

Effective Now:

Your traffic devices must conform to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
  • If public travels on private property that you own or manage
  • Includes shopping centers, offices and apartment complexes
Personal Injury or loss of life in an area where traffic signs fail to comply with new Federal standards, will result in exposure to tort liability.
Visit for more information regarding minimum reflectivity bylaws.

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New MUTCD Requirements For Street Signs:

  • Minimum reflectivity of High Intensity
  • Combination of upper & lower case letters
  • Font Style must be “Clearview”
Non-Regulation Sign
example: non-regulation signs
Regulation Sign
example: regulation sign

Other MUTCD Street Sign Recommendations:

  • Roads with Speed Limit of 40 mph or less
    • 6" initial letter height
  • Roads with Speed Limit of 25 mph or less
    • 4" initial letter height
  • Roads with Speed Limit of 40 mph of greater
    • 8" initial letter height for post mounted signs
    • 12" letter height for overhead street name signs

Key Reasons For New Retroreflectivity Requirements:

  • Signs more visible to nighttime drivers
    • More than 50% of fatal traffic accidents occur at night
  • Signs more visible to older drivers
    • 65 year old drivers require 4 times the amount of light to see a sign at night as a 25 year old driver
  • Signs more visible in inclement weather

Timeline to Implement New Requirements:

  • January 22, 2012
    • Roadway owners must have a sign management plan in place
  • January 22, 2015
    • Regulatory, Warning and Post-Mounted signs must meet retroreflectivity requirments
  • January 22, 2018
    • Street Name signs must meet retroreflectivity requirements
    • If signs meet retroreflectivity requirements and are in all capital letters, they may remain in service for the remainder of their useful life
      • After the end of their useful life signs should be replaced with a combination of upper & lower case letters

Potential Funding For New Requirement Upgrades:

  • Surface Transportation Program (STP)
    • Provides flexible funding for States and localities for projects on any Federal-aid highway
    • Can use for improvement of signs and pavement markers
      • Can be used on public roads not classified as local or rural minor collectors
  • Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)
    • Program focused on reducing traffic fatalities and injuries on public roads
    • $1.25 billion annually go to states
    • To be eligible for HSIP funds, the improvement of highway signs must be:
      • Identified as a priority in the State’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan
      • and correct a hazardous road location or address a highway safety problem
      • and the locations for potential safety improvements must be identified through a data-driven process

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Wrap & Vinyl Dictionary:

3M™ Comply™ Adhesive: 3M™ brand name for air egress technology, channels for air removal are slightly visible.

3M™ Comply™ v3 Adhesive: 3M™ brand name for air egress technology, channels for air removal are not visible.

3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film: 3M™ brand name for films with pressure activated adhesive that is slideable and repositionable.

3M™ Scotchcal™ Graphic Film: 3M™ brand name for films with pressure sensitive adhesive that bonds upon contact.

3M™ Scotchcal™ Overlaminate: 3M™ brand name for a transparent film that can enhance or change the finish of a product and provide resistance to dirt and UV light.

Air Egress Vinyl characteristic that allow air bubbles to escape through channels in the adhesive as the film is being applied.

Bus King/Queen: Used in association with graphic films approved for use on transit vehicles, king/queen refers to various bus sizes and the required graphic dimensions.

  • Bus King Trim Size: 30” x 144”, Super King Trim Size: 30” x 240”
  • Bus Queen Trim Size: 30” x 88”, Super Queen Trim Size: 30” x 108”

Changeable Adhesive: Can be removed without heat or chemicals, leaves minimal residue.

Compound Curves: Surface with three dimensional curves.

Conformable: Feature in some graphic films that allows it to conform around curves and rivets.

Permanent Adhesive: Not intended to be removed.

Pressure Activated Adhesive: Slideable until firm pressure is applied.

Pressure Sensitive Adhesive: Adheres upon contact to the substrate, does not slide and cannot be repositioned.

Removable Adhesive: Can be removed with heat leaving minimal residue, in some instances chemicals are also required for removal.

Repositionable: Easy to remove and reapply without heat or aid, in some instances firm pressure can eliminate this feature.

Simple Curves: Surface with a double dimensional curve.

Slideable: Film slides easily across a substrate while positioning for an application, adhesive is activated by applying pressure.

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Ink 101

Grimco Education
  1. Solvent Ink
  2. Eco-Solvent Ink (Mild Solvent)
  3. HP Latex Inks
  4. Epson UltraChrome GS Eco-Solvent Inks
  5. UV Inks
  6. Aqueous Ink

Solvent Ink

Inks that use a carrier made of various chemicals that penetrate material, but evaporate quickly. Printers using solvent-based inks emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and should be ventilated. Can also be referred to as hard, or true solvents.

Solvent ink is considered to be the back bone of the digital inkjet printing industry for outdoor signage. It is the standard for vehicle warps and banners.


  • Fast drying time, does not require use of external heat. 6-24 hour curing time
  • Able to print on a wide range of materials
  • Scratch/water resistant; long term outdoor durability
  • High color gamut


  • Due to the high level of emitted VOC, solvent printers must be used in a well ventilated area.

Solvent Printer Examples:
Mimaki JV5 Series, Mimaki JV33 Series, Mimaki JV3 Series, Mimaki CJV3 Series, HP 8000/9000/10000 Printers, Seiko Colorpainter

Eco-Solvent (Mild Solvent)

Inks using less toxic solvent-based carrier. Printers using eco-solvent inks emit less harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Mild solvent inks combine the durability advantages of true solvent ink with the environmental advantages of water-based ink.


  • Less need for special ventilation
  • Lesser wear and tear on printer components, such as print heads
  • Cost is comparable to solvent-based ink
  • Durability is comparable to solvent-based ink


  • Due to less aggressive solvent, more drying time is required to adhere to materials
  • Does not print on variety of materials as true solvent (like rigid PVC or high gloss materials)
  • Often printers have a slower speed
Printers that can utilize mild solvent ink sets are some of the same printers that traditionally run solvent inks. However the two ink types cannot be interchanged. Once printer is setup to run mild-solvent, it can only run mild-solvent ink, it cannot go both ways.

Eco-Solvent Printer Examples:
Roland Soljet, Roland VersaCAMM, Mutoh Valuejet, Mimaki JV33 Series, Mimaki CJV3 Series

HP Latex Inks

A new type of water-borne inkjet inks developed by HP designed for outdoor wide-format printing applications. The inks contain about 70% water, 30% co-solvents, pigments and latex polymer particles that form a film and bind with substrates with the application of heat.

HP's Latex inks have no odor.

Latex inks use a 6 color printing mode; CMYK plus Light Cyan and Light Magenta.
Water based ink with comparable performance to low-solvent ink.
HP Latex prints achieve up to three years display permanence when left unlaminated, five years when laminated, and provide scratch, smudge, and water resistance comparable to low-solvent inks.


  • Latex printers require no special ventilation whatsoever
  • Latex inks have been tested on a wide variety of coated/uncoated materials with success, including vinyl, banner, fabrics, and paper substrates
  • Due to quick drying, prints can be handled or laminated immediately after completion, thus producing less turnaround time in a production environment


  • Evaporation rate is much slower, and required more heat to cure. This requires more precise profile tuning for specific materials

HP Latex Printer Examples:
HP L25500, HP Lx600, HP LX850

Epson UltraChrome GS Eco-Solvent Inks

High-performance, solvent-based ink technology, developed by Epson with stunning color gamut and accuracy, while having less impact on the environment, due to low VOCs.

Epson GS Ink is available in 8 colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Orange and Green.


  • Prints on virtually any solvent based media, coated or uncoated
  • Superior scratch resistance
  • Fast dry times eliminate the need for external dryers
  • No special ventilation required
  • Due to 8 colors; color gamut is very wide
  • Zig-zag color pattern reduces banding

Epson UltraChrome GS Eco-Solvent Printer Examples:
Epson Stylus Pro GS6000

UV Inks

UV-curable inks are "cured" once they are exposed to wavelengths of UV light. the ink consists of a photo initiator, and when exposed to the UV light, it undergoes a chemical process that transforms the ink into a solid film that tightly adheres directly onto the substrate's surface.

Essentially, during the curing process, the ink is transformed into a thin layer of plastic that acts as a top layer to the substrate it has been applied to.

The flatbed printing industry is dominated by UV Inks.
UV Inks have the distinction from solvent inks based on their capability to print directly onto rigid substrates.
Due to color and hardness, it is ideal for outdoor signage.


  • Typically cheaper per ft/squared than solvent
  • UV Ink system is environmentally friendly, containing little to no solvents
  • Little to no odor
  • Faster print speeds reduce production cost
  • Due to ink being cured into a film, it is ideal for outdoor durable signage
  • Unlike solvent printers, flatbed printers utilize UV Ink technology to print directly to rigid materials
  • Instant curing allows for handling of material as soon as it leaves printer; allowing for faster turnaround in production environment
  • UV Inks are better for the equipment itself, as it will not harden within the print components, but rather only when cured onto the material it is being applied to
  • Does have capability to print on vinyl and banner, with the appropriate application


  • UV Ink does not work with all substrates
  • Finish of the ink is considered flat or matte
  • UV Ink is not ideal for applications with high level of abrasion
  • Lower image resolution than roll-to-roll printers
  • UV Ink is less flexible than other ink systems, due to the cured ink being more brittle

UV Ink Printer Examples:
HP FB Flatbed Series, Mimaki JF=1631/10, Mimaki UJV-160 Hybrid

Aqueous Inks

Inks that use water as a carrier. Aqueous inks may contain dyes or pigments as colorants.

Traditional water-based inks are widely used for photographic printing and short-term indoor signage applications.

Aqueous inks can utilize 8 color sets, up to a 12 color ink set; blue, green, magenta, red, yellow, gray, photo black, matte black, light cyan, light gray, light magenta, gloss enhancer.
Aqueous inks print on a different set of medias, known as coated medias, due to the way the inks dry on the surface of the material.


  • Due to high color gamut, aqueous inks can produce photo quality prints
  • Ink chemicals pose little to no health risks, in comparison to solvent inks


  • Aqueous ink applications typically are not appropriate for durable outdoor signage
  • The dye-based colorants have a tendency to fade over time

Aqueous Ink Printer Examples:
HP Designjet Z6100, Z3200, Z2100

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