With stop signs, yield signs, street signs, and more, the city of Naperville has about 35,000 signs. Each sign is made in Naperville. In the back of Naperville’s Public Works building is the city’s sign shop.
“We make and manufacture all of our signs. That lets us be responsive. We can control if we need a stop sign right away, we can do it right away,” said Christine Schwartzhoff, Operations Team Leader.
The first step is to open up the computer program, select the sign you want to make, and hit print. The signs print on an industrial printer that prints on film, and uses a different color depending on what type of sign it is.
“It just cuts through all the different colored film, like the green is for street signs, red for parking and so on,” said Joan English, Special Services Supervisor.
After a sign’s been printed, it needs to be cut and the first step is to cut away the excess film.
“It’s like carving an elephant from a piece of stone, you pull away all the pieces that don’t look like an elephant. Or in this case, we pull off the sheeting, and before you know it you’ll have yourself a ‘Children at Play’ sign,” said Frank Jasien,
The next step is to put the backing on the sign, making it firm so it’ll be stable in the elements. Workers use a squeeze roller to put the pieces together.
“We just lay black film on top, and what that does is it obliterates the reflectivity, so at night you see the same message you see during the day” said Jasien.
After a sign’s been finished, it gets prepared to be put up. One of the biggest challenges sign shop employees face is sign damage. From traffic accidents to vandalism, many city signs get damaged and they need to be replaced right away. The sticker price for a sign starts at $100, so the damages add up, but shop employees say making the signs is just one part of helping control traffic in Naperville.
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