This weeks post is from our guest Blogger – Julian Rowlandson, Sales & Marketing Director, Stocksigns.

From the iconic London Underground maps to retro adverts for household goods in gastro pubs printed Vitreous Enamel signs and panels provide an exciting and durable medium for architects, specifiers and designers.

Using a process that can be traced back to ancient Egypt, Vitreous Enamel or VE has many features that make it suitable for a wide range of applications.  Unlike most other sign making methods VE creates a physical bond between the steel plate and the glass frit.  Layers of paint are applied using traditional screen print processes and are fired in a furnace at temperatures in excess of 700°.  Because of the challenges involved in the manufacture of VE signs there are few companies that have the capabilities required to produce the panels.

The sustainable functionality of VE makes it a natural choice for applications where durability is important.  City wayfinding projects such as in Bristol and the Legible London project have utilised

VE because it is low maintenance, vandal proof and colour fast.  The colour fast nature of VE meets the exacting needs that major utility companies have in identifying power lines from the air.  Helicopter panels are attached to pylons and are exposed to all the elements can throw at them.  They are colour coded to allow easy identification and it is critical that these colours do not fade over time which could lead to dangerous confusion.

The Jubilee Gardens project installed by Stocksigns on the Southbank in London is a good example of VE being used in a more artistic application.  Combining wayfinding and information, the project needed to be aesthetically appropriate for the setting.

There are many opportunities for architects, designers and specifiers to use VE in their projects.  In the commercial setting the use of VE in street names, wayfinding, transport, parks and open spaces are all applications that are particularly well suited to the features of VE.  While, potentially, more expensive to purchase, the low maintenance cost and longevity more than compensates for the initial expenditure, giving VE an attractive total lifetime value.

In the more aesthetic setting, retro products such as those that used to form the Garnier Collection are enjoying a renaissance.  Advertising panels for Colmans Mustard, Castrol and BMC are amongst popular images from yesteryear that are used in restaurants and pubs.

Stocksigns, a leading manufacturer of VE have been involved in projects that cover all of these areas.