3A Composites USA Scales Legendary Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower remains one of the most well-known architectural icons of Europe, if not the world. Completed in March 1889, the tower, rising 324 meters into the skies above Paris, consisted of 18,030 iron pieces held together with 2.5 million rivets and weighing 10,100 tons.

8a9b359192d24a6cd4c1c513947782a0_f67Eiffel Tower DisplayThere’s no denying that the Eiffel Tower is a legendary example of human ingenuity as well as an instantly recognizable graphic arts icon. That’s what made it the perfect start to the new marketing communications program recently announced by 3A Composites USA and entitled, “It’s What Legends Are Made Of — Create Your Own.”

This program features a series of print advertisements, product literature, sample kits and a new 20-foot by 20-foot trade show booth in which legendary graphic arts icons — such as the Eiffel Tower — are re-created and/or displayed with one of 3A Composites’ leading graphic display boards, including the Sintra, Dibond, Gator and Fome-Cor board lines.

The “Legends” marketing campaign was developed as a result of the 3A Composites, Inc., acquisition of the Uniwood/Fome-Cor Board business from Nevamar Company in October 2003.

“Both of our businesses offered leading brands of graphic display boards backed by outstanding customer and technical service,” said David Meacham, marketing manager, 3A Composites USA. “Together, our product offering — including Sintra, Dibond, Fome-Cor and Gatorfoam graphic display boards — is stronger than ever before. 3A Composites USA now is a single source for graphic display boards, offering everything from paper-faced foam boards to expanded plastic boards, aluminum composites, polyurethane foam boards with melamine-impregnated liners, and polystyrene foam boards with wood-fiber veneers.

“Our challenge in creating a marketing communications campaign was not only to alert our graphic display partners to our greatly expanded product offering but to help them select the most appropriate graphic display board to meet their specific project requirements.”

The “Legends” campaign was developed for 3A Composites by McLane & Company, a full-service marketing communications firm based in St. Louis.

“We wanted the combined brands to put forth a unified voice in the trade and with end-users,” said Larry McLane, president, McLane & Company. “We realized that many of these products are legendary in this industry. For example, Fome-Cor board was the very first paper-faced foam board introduced to the graphic arts industry in 1959, and it’s still the one that graphic designers ask for by name. We thought we could highlight the individual features and benefits of these legendary graphic display boards by using them to fabricate images of legendary graphic arts icons — such as the Eiffel Tower.” Fabrication specifications for each icon are included in the print ads. Additionally, three new literature pieces created under the overall theme, “Choosing Your Graphic Display Board Is Easier Than Ever,” provide product information as well as fabrication and application guidelines for each graphic display board available from 3A Composites USA. (To request your free copies, call 1-800-626-3365 or email info.usa@3acomposites.com)

“After reviewing previous campaigns and having been a user of these products myself, I thought it made sense to include material and fabrication specifications in the new print ads,” said Scott Gericke, partner, designlab,inc in St. Louis, which worked under the direction of McLane & Company to create graphics for the “Legends” campaign. “When readers see a unique graphic display, their first response is often, ‘How’d they do that?’ The ‘Legends’ ads incorporate specification boxes to answer that question. Providing this type of information also helps to position 3A Composites as an industry leader and, at the same time, inspires graphic designers. The message is that anyone using these materials can create anything they imagine.”

Sintra, the trusted brand leader in premium graphic display boards, was selected to create a 6-foot-tall tower display — a scale of 1/182 of the real Eiffel Tower. Sintra is a lightweight-yet-rigid expanded PVC material that is available in a wide range of thicknesses from 1 mm to 19 mm in various sheet sizes and a rainbow of colors. Sintra cuts cleanly, creating smooth edges. It can be direct printed and screen-printed and can accept vinyl graphics. Sintra fabricates easily without special tools and can be heat formed and laminated to other materials.
1844396a5335995b3529119c0d1676b8_f66Architectural Signage, Inc., in St. Louis, began fabrication of the display by scanning an intricate paper model of the Eiffel Tower into Adobe Photoshop and re-sizing the image to a 6-foot final height. Vector paths of the artwork were created along all parts to be routed.

“We created print files of each filigree, nut, bolt and rivet,” said Ed Brimer, president of Engraphix.

Engraphix contracted DAXAM, Inc., in Chicago, to print and rout the image. The digital print files were first sent to the Onyx Production House rip server. Finished files were sent to a Zund UV jet 215C printer, utilizing Sericol UV curable inks. The image was direct printed four times — to create the four-sided tower — onto 3 mm and 6 mm beige Sintra graphic display board. Beige Sintra was selected to most closely match the current painted color of the Eiffel Tower. A Zund L-2500 plotter, operated by MGE i-cut digital die-cutting software, was utilized to rout the intricate images printed on each board.

The Eiffel Tower image was returned to Engraphix in 84 pieces for assembly as a four-sided tower. The edges of the main structure were cut with a 45-degree bevel and glued with Lord Urethane Adhesive 7542A/B. Most corners on the peak were formed using relief cuts on the back and heated to make a smooth bend. Small pieces of low-tack tape were used to hold the structure together while the glue cured. The tower can be disassembled into three main sections for transportation to trade shows. While construction of the real Eiffel Two required two years, two months and five days to complete, fabrication of this lifelike display was still no easy feat. In addition to file preparation, print and routing time, it took one Engraphix employee, who builds models as a hobby, nearly three days to trim, bend and assemble the tower.

The 6-foot-tall Eiffel Tower display made its debut at PMA 2004, sponsored by the Photo Marketing Association International in Las Vegas Feb. 12-15. Placed strategically in front of the new 3A Composites island display, the Eiffel Tower served as a successful draw for show-goers.

“People would walk over to the Eiffel Tower and see that it was made out of Sintra, then start talking to one of our sales and marketing personnel manning the booth,” according to Meacham, who said sales leads at PMA 2004 were up 50 percent over the previous year. “This was a very successful show for us.”

In addition to the Eiffel Tower display made of Sintra, the new booth created by Pingel Displays, Inc., in St. Louis, also utilized Dibond aluminum composite material in the main tower and to mount signage. Nimlok Displays & Exhibits Worldwide of Niles, Ill., fabricated the trade-show booth, incorporating both Dibond Butler Finish material and a powder-coated metal extrusion.

Dibond is a lightweight-yet-rigid durable aluminum composite material consisting of two strong sheets of .012-inch aluminum bonded to a thermoplastic core that fabricates easily. Dibond can be used in large-format digital and electrostatic printing and photo mounting applications, as well as screen-printing. A polyester clear coat is applied over Dibond’s brushed aluminum finish to create Dibond Butler Finish. This product offers significant cost savings, fabrication ease and rigidity for interior signage, exhibits and displays.

“It was great to be able to incorporate Dibond in the booth because it’s manufactured by 3A Composites,” said Bob Spies, account executive, Pingel Displays. “This booth should stand up for a long time.The graphics will become outdated before the booth wears out.”