GraphiKore

An interactive section of TheLetterheads.com

Topics include: Sign Making, Design, Fabrication, Letterheads, Sign Books.

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Joseph Masters
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:43 am

GraphiKore

Post by Joseph Masters » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:51 am

GraphiKore was a balsa wood product used in the signage market about 15 years ago. As the marketing manager for Alcan Composites, I am currently researching the possibility of bringing it back to market. If anyone has any input concerning their experience with GraphiKore, it would be greatly appreciated. Such items include:

Likes/Dislikes
Product uses/Markets
Substitute products/Pricing
Supply Source
Sustainability concerns

Thank you in advance for your input; I look forward to hearing any of your responses.

Mike Jackson
Site Admin
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Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:02 pm
Location: Jackson Hole, WY
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Re: GraphiKore

Post by Mike Jackson » Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:22 am

Joseph called me this morning and I suggested he sign up and post his questions here. I suspect several people here used some of the product and may have some comments based on experience.

Mike Jackson: co-administrator
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

Mike Jackson
Site Admin
Posts: 1686
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:02 pm
Location: Jackson Hole, WY
Contact:

Re: GraphiKore

Post by Mike Jackson » Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:19 pm

Joseph,
We used some dimensional balsa wood on a sign for the Gunbarrel Restaurant close to 20 years ago. It was 3.5"-4" thick and used at the mountains at the top of the sign. The sign is still going well after all that time and has only been freshened up one time. I primed the balsa wood section with an extra few coats just to be safe and it worked. The mountains are about 12' off the ground and not something anyone could get to.

I still have two 2'x4'x2"thick panels here at my house from the early days. They are still shrink wrapped. I don't have a CNC machine to do much with them anymore.

I don't remember the costs of the materials, so I don't know how it relates to HDU, especially the new 30 lb materials.

Dislikes:
A. Too soft. It can easily be dented if too close to areas where people can touch it.
B. The grain has a tendency to raise when primed and painted, and even more so if a water based paint is used. We had better luck with it using blockout white primers. The grain would also raise using varnish.
C. It has a very non-descript grain finish. Unlike most other natural wood products, you don't get much of an attractive wood appearance if covered with clear varnishes.
D. I was never too sure if it would hold up if I were to put eye bolts into it and hang it under a canopy. I was worried about it not having enough structural integrity to hold the bolts over the long haul.
E. Since the material is very porus, I was always worried about water seeping into any kind of open grain and causing big problems. Maybe I was over reacting, but I always put extra coats of primer down.
F. Because it was so uniformly soft, sandblasting it produced only mediocre results. Not enough grain to make it worth the effort. HDU at least gives you options to use GrainFrames to reveal texture while blasting.

Likes:
A. I think it was fairly dimensionally stable....but it has been way to long to remember.
B: Lightweight when that is a plus.
C: I can't remember the costs relationship...?
D: Seems like it carved okay, but chisels had to be very sharp.

Right now, I am not sure whether it has a good spot in the sign market? If I had a CNC router, I think I'd usually reach for 30lb HDU over it, especially if I were going to be painting the product a solid color. HDU mills much easier and is much less prone to having raised grain issues.

You probably have a good product for "some" market, but I am not too convinced it is in the sign market. Lastly, Baltek introduced the product, got it into shops, and then pulled the plug on it in a relatively short period of time. If I really had loved the product back then, I would have been bummed if you stopped supplying it. It would be a concern for me now, though I am not making signs that need it anymore.

Good luck with it!
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

Joseph Masters
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:43 am

Re: GraphiKore

Post by Joseph Masters » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:41 am

Good information to know; thanks for all of your help with this ongoing research effort, Mike.

cam bortz
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue May 04, 2004 8:54 am

Re: GraphiKore

Post by cam bortz » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:47 am

I tried this stuff on a carved sign way back then. I went to a lot of extra steps to seal it from water penetration, and it still looked fine about eight years later - soon after that it began to deteriorate VERY fast. Some areas under the paint film turned to a black mush; and a very large toadstool sort of mushroom grew out of it. The client was an absentee management company and did not return a call suggesting a re-do, so it continued to rot in place for another couple of years. Another project done by another shop here also failed rather quickly, though I cannot speak as to how that sign was prepped. I have long since gone to HDU for the majority of carving projects, and I think Mike's comments are right on. I wouldn't use it again.

Joseph Masters
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:43 am

Re: GraphiKore

Post by Joseph Masters » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:28 pm

Thank you, Cam. This is solid feedback and very helpful.

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