by Danny Schneider
Modularity is an approach to signage that utilizes a pre-constructed array of parts that can be individually engineered for cost effectiveness. Modularity is the most common green practice utilized by designers and fabricators today. Modularity enhances the green process in the following areas:
- Using standard materials decreases waste in the manufacturing process.
- Physical locks and connectors minimize the use of adhesives.
- Modularity makes materials easier to separate into component parts.
- Green materials can be easily integrated into the design process.
Designers, fabricators, and manufacturers have developed the following design approaches to modularity:
Focus on shared design elements
Early in the design process it is important to focus on the shared elements of sign systems. By focusing on shared elements, greater efficiency can be achieved with fabricated parts.
Use of simple but flexible stock material sizes
The development of standard-sized frames and connector parts and pieces allows modular signs to be easily taken apart and reused. These basic building blocks also allow for extensive customization in signs. During the design process, it is important to focus on using standard size and modular materials.
Removal of adhesives from the process
Adhesives and glues make the recycling of materials more difficult. Most modular signs use rails, tension, bolts, and locks to connect materials.
Use of green materials
Another advantage of modular systems is that individual materials can be easily separated from one another. Through the design development process, it is important to research all materials for their green properties. These include frames, printed inserts, paints, and substrates.
Guidelines for ongoing management and maintenance
It is not enough to just select sustainable materials. It is also important that clear guidelines are put in place for material disposal and recycling. It is also important to develop relationships with modular sign and material manufacturers to involve them in the management process.
Three Key Trends in the Development of Modular Signs
Modular Curved Frame Technology and the minimization of connectors
Modular Curved Frame Technology (MCFT) is a modular manufactured sign system that utilizes pre-manufactured curved frames to connect a variety of graphic and material components parts utilizing tension as a locking mechanism. Sign professionals developed MCFT as part of the evolution in modular signs to minimize waste and maximize custom design approaches.
3form and green substrates
3form is the most well-known company pioneering the development of green substrate materials that can be integrated into modular signs. These green materials can be easily removed from the modular sign and returned to the manufacturer for recycling.
Combining local materials with shipped modular elements
Many times modular frames and connectors are delivered from great distances, but many designers have begun to combine these elements with local materials and processes. At the same time, modular sign companies have focused on using lighter and easier-to-ship materials that can be easily combined with local surface materials and substrates.