Brewing up the 3D Coffee House Sign

When Aversboro Coffee approached Steve Kolacz with GrafiXhouse Design Studios, they needed a 3D sign that could work both as an indoor wall sign for their business and as a trade show display.  The catch was, they only had a week to get it done, so they fabricated a dimensional sign out of Precision Board HDU, Corex and insulation foam, tossed a few lights in and a smoke machine.  The result?  A happy customer and a multimedia sign that doubles as a trade show display.


The sign is made out of PBLT-15, Corex and expanding insulation foam and stands 6′ tall, 3′ wide and 1.5″ thick.  “They were going to a trade show and wanted something they could use for the trade show and then hang on the wall,” says Steve. “They wanted the sign to look like their coffee cup and originally wanted it to be 360 degrees, but we only had a week.”

The main body of the cup was routed from 15 pound Precision Board HDU on their ShopBot CNC using Adobe Illustrator and ArtCam Insignia.

Steve scanned the coffee cup sleeve, digitally printed it and attached it to Corex. He flipped the material so that it would bend like cardboard and put slits in to let it take some bends and curves.  The Corex was then attached to the Precision Board and a red light was added behind the coffee sleeve to backlight it.

The top part of cup that appears to be a frothy foam was actually expanding insulation foam secured on top of the HDU. “I tried out expanding foam to give the froth some texture,” Steve added.

Because the sign also had to work as a trade show display, Kolacz added a back piece it that could be folded out or also hung up on a wall.  Steve says, “I made a French cleat that could be opened up into an a-frame.”

Steve used One Shot and Createx Colors airbrush paint on the high-density urethane.  It wasn’t a super labor-intensive project, but Steve says it took them about a week to rout, paint, airbrush and light.  Just in time for the trade show, but he had one more trick to complete the effect.  They hooked up a smoke machine behind the sign to give the appearance of steam.

Steve and GrafiXhouse Design have done a lot of 3d work with Precision Board HDU and there’s a reason for that.

“I like the ease that you can cut, rout and shape it.  You can use grinders, all kinds of dremels and tools to give it different looks.”  He adds, “try using really heavy grit sandpaper and you can get into some very unique shaping.”  Above all, he likes the uniformity of surface when working with high-density urethane.  “You don’t get knots.”

GrafiXhouse Design Studios is located in North Carolina and is staffed by professional artists that have degrees in fine art and advertising.  They do everything from logo design, company branding and marketing to 3d signs, tradeshow props and banners.  We are very impressed with their work and highly recommend them.  Give them a call at (919) 329-5743 or visit their website.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane sign material that is particularly effective for making professional-looking indoor and outdoor dimensional signs.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samples, get a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.