Iowa State In-plant Earns Organizational Impact Award
Thanks to advancements in printing technology and a collaboration with several departments at Iowa State University, ISU Printing & Copy Services is now able to provide ADA-compliant wayfinding signage on the Ames, Iowa, campus. For taking the initiative and offering an integral service to its parent organization, the in-plant has earned the Organizational Impact Award from the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA). Director Nathan Thole accepted the award on behalf of his staff at the recent IPMA conference, in Louisville, Ky.
“Iowa State University Printing and Copy Services is thrilled to win the Organizational Impact Award for 2019," he says. "Providing an efficient, economic and quality solution for our university’s ADA-compliant signage needs is a great opportunity for our proud group."
The previous process for creating ADA-compliant signs required making signs one at a time with pre-purchased lenses. These lenses then had to have an adhesive material applied to them, were cut out one-at-a-time with a CNC-machine and then manually weeded to create the text/characters of the sign. Lastly, the operator would manually insert Braille “BB’s” by hand, one-at-a-time into pre-drilled holes. This was a time-consuming and cumbersome project, with orders back-logged across campus. Each sign lens was being sold to university customers for about $25.
The acquisition of the right flatbed printer (an Océ Arizona 2280 GT), cutter (a Colex SharpCUT SX1631) and software by the in-plant, along with ISU Printing & Copy Services’ expertise, has allowed the shop to produce the ADA signage in a much more efficient way. The department worked closely with the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Facilities departments to ensure ADA-specifications and any other requirements were being met.
A lot of testing needed to be done, specifically with developing the correct ink mixture to ensure specification adherence, desirable appearance and substrate adhesion. The in-plant is now able to replicate Braille and/or raised characters, which typically measures to about 1/32˝ from the surface of the substrate. By starting with a 48x96˝ substrate, printing and cutting at least 55-up, the in-plant was able to produce these sign lenses at a final cost as low as $7.37 each.
These new capabilities will help the in-plant reduce costs for all new signage projects on campus and make it more financially feasible to upgrade existing signage to be fully ADA-compliant. There is a need for an estimated 40-50,000 signs total, which would have cost the university anywhere from $1 million to $1.25 million with the previous method. The new production method has the potential to save the university as much as $881,000.
Ultimately, this new endeavor has been a fantastic, collaborative opportunity for the department to showcase its strengths and capabilities and further justify its value to the university.
"I’d like to thank my staff and vendors who have helped us make this lofty endeavor a reality," Thole acknowledges. "Branching out from traditional print products and being diverse in our product offerings will help us preserve and improve our value to our parent organization. We are proud to be recognized with this prestigious award and look forward to building on this accomplishment. Thank you IPMA.”