Frequently Asked Questions

Signmaking FAQs

What do you get for the price of a new machine?

Pricing for all our machines is “turn-key” which means that everything you need to be fully operational is included, there are no options, extras or hidden charges.  Freight charges are the only additional expense.  The purchase price of our machines includes installation, training, a full two-year parts, and labor warranty, as well as software updates and lifetime remote diagnostics and support*. We utilize Team Viewer for remote support which enables us to offer nearly instant technical support and virtually eliminates the need for on-site technical support visits. * some restrictions may apply

We have technicians located throughout the United States to ensure that someone is always nearby for the few service calls that actually require an on-site visit from one of our technical services team.

Our US headquarters for sales, remote support, parts, and materials inventory is centrally located in Thornton, Colorado. Our facility in Foothill Ranch, CA is our state-of-the-art showroom and is strictly by appointment only.

How long does it take to get a new machine?

We move fast!  We carry a full inventory of machines that are fully assembled, packaged, crated and ready to ship within 24 hours of purchase.  Delivery to facilities within the continental US can be expected in 5 business days or less.  We have completely eliminated the long lead times of 8-12 weeks that are customary for many manufacturers. We can be on-site to set up your new machine and train your operators the week after it is delivered.

How much waste return material is produced per letter?

waste material

Our machines produce almost no waste.  The machine only produces 1/4″ of waste, which is the width of the cutting blade that separates the finished letter from the remaining, unprocessed coil. In comparison, our competitors’ machines can typically waste up to 10”-12” of material for each letter which leads to significantly higher material costs.  For example, a letter B is comprised of three separate segments, the perimeter section, and two inside sections.  Our machine will only produce about 3/4″ of total waste when forming a letter B, whereas our competitors can waste anywhere from 2–3 feet of material on this one single letter!


How long does it take to bend a letter?

Be careful, many companies are intentionally deceptive and will advertise the feed rate of their machine not the machine’s actual production speed.  There is always a big difference between feed rate and production speed.

The ChannelBender Series machines consistently have the fastest production time relative to all to our competitors. For example, an 18″ flanged channel letter takes an average of only 3:30-3:45 to flange, notch and bend. In addition, the output from our ChannelBender Series machines is far superior in both quality and accuracy, thereby slashing labor costs and increasing productivity.

What’s the tallest letter that can be produced?

Generally speaking, the larger the size of the letter, the easier it is to form, although large letters do sometimes get cumbersome. Whether being bent by hand or by machine, big letters are typically easier to form than small, intricate letters. The letter height capability of our bending machines is essentially limitless. Our machines can bend letters as tall as you’ll ever need. Do you need a letter 15 feet tall? No problem, our machines can do that. The machine operator has the flexibility to run large letters as one continuous piece or they can choose to break the letter into multiple pieces that will fit together precisely. The process of breaking a letter into multiple sections is very simple to do within the machine software. 

How deep can a letter be?

Depth capacity varies by machine. Overall, we offer machines that can process letters as shallow as 1 inch deep and up to 10 inches deep. If the letter will be produced with a flange, minimum coil height is 2-1/2″ prior to flanging. 1 inch depth can only be attained with reverse letters, which also known as halo-lit letters. 

What’s the minimum serif size that can be produced on the SCB?

serif image

On a typical face-lit letter the flange is the limiting factor. If the serif is less than 2x the flange depth, the flange will collide into itself. In other words, a 1/2 inch flange requires a minimum 1 inch stroke. If producing flanged serifs smaller than 1 inch, manual trimming of the flange is necessary. On a Trimless, halo-lit or fabricated letter the minimum serif size our machine can produce is about 3/16” although we have seen some customers produce letters with smaller serifs on our equipment.

What is the smallest letter that can be formed?

This depends on the material being formed, the font, and the letter style (flanged or unflanged).  The smallest halo-lit or Trimless letter our machines can produce is about 3” in height.

LetterForm® FAQs

What exactly is a Trimless channel letter?

Trimless channel letters completely eliminate the use of trim cap. Trimless letters deliver a cleaner, more contemporary, higher-end aesthetic to a channel letter project. When viewed from the front, the eye sees only a smooth, flush, acrylic face. The clean, flat face of the letter appears to transition seamlessly into the return when viewed from an angle. 

Why would you want to produce Trimless channel letters?

Trimless channel letters offer a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing channel letter product. Trimless letters are a premium quality, more contemporary product that is intended to fetch a premium price and deliver a higher profit margin. In addition to selling attractive, high-quality, Trimless letters for a premium price, customers will save money by eliminating the labor and material required by the trim cap process. Choosing to fabricate with our LetterForm Trimless system also eliminates many common problems associated with trim cap like fading, cracking, peeling, and matching colors. 

What is LetterForm®?

letterform-coilLetterForm is the first major innovation to impact channel letter fabrication in years. This cutting-edge system was developed by SDS Automation and introduced in 2015. LetterForm was seen as such a significant innovation by the International Sign Association that it was recognized with an Innovation Award at the 2016 ISA Sign Expo. Letterform is a channel letter coil available in aluminum and stainless steel and comes in a variety of depths, colors, and finishes. Aluminum LetterForm is .040” (1mm) in thickness whereas stainless steel is 22 gauge. Bonded to the interior surface are PVC strips that are used for attaching faces with adhesive and back panels using our patented, stainless steel Easy Clips. LetterForm is sturdy yet just flexible enough to allow customers to produce high quality, exceptionally detailed Trimless signage and channel letters. This innovative, patented coil saves customers time and money by entirely eliminating trim cap from the fabrication process. To find out more about features and view detailed drawings, please see the Letterform page on our website. 

Do I have to have one of your machines to produce Trimless channel letters?

Yes, but only certain SDS Automation ChannelBenders are capable of processing LetterForm. While some sign companies have developed fabrication techniques for producing letters without trim cap, the process has historically been very labor-intensive and costly. SDS Automation is the only company to offer a patented, UL approved, Trimless channel letter system.  Our system can only by used in conjunction with SDS Automation’s cutting-edge automated bending machines that allow for the quick and efficient fabrication of Trimless® channel letters. 

Are there size or other limitations to consider when building Trimless letters using the LetterForm system?

Yes, there a number of factors that will impact the size of the letters that cam be fabricated using LetterFrom. Please contact us to learn more about any limitations or restrictions that will impact your particular project.

Back panel material choices?

We have seen customers use 1/8″ ACM, 1/4″ ACM and 1/8″ solid aluminum sheet.  1/8″ aluminum is the superior method for exterior installations because ACM has a tendency to soften and warp when exposed to high temperatures and / or direct sunlight.  This softening of the plastic core can cause failures where the face – return assembly detaches from the back panel.  For interior-mounted letters, the use of ACM is not a concern, however, 1/4″ is highly recommended over 1/8″ except on very small letters under 10″ in vertical height.

Support FAQs

How do I get Tech Support?

We offer several ways to contact our technical services team.  One option is to call our main number 303.798.7110.  You will either be connected directly or we will have someone call you right back. Please be prepared to provide your name, company name, machine make, model, serial number, and a detailed explanation of the issue you are having or the question we can answer for you. You can also send an email using our Tech Support form by clicking on the following link. Read More

Can we get additional training?

Absolutely! We offer both remote and in-person training depending on your particular needs and timeline. We also understand that turnover can lead to new operators who may not have had the benefit of the initial factory-certified training we provide during installation.  No worries. We are available to provide all levels of training in these situations, anything from a quick tutorial to fully comprehensive training from A to Z.  Give us a call at 303.798.7110 or send an email to discuss your situation.

What's the warranty on my machine?

Most SDS machines come with a two-year parts and labor limited warranty including lifetime phone and remote access tech support from a US-based technician.  SDS Automation equipment warranty and tech support extends only to the original purchaser.  Secondary owners have the option to purchase warranty and technical support extensions.

Contact Signmaking Equipment Sales