The design of traffic signs in Germany is based on the StVO road traffic regulations. The rules and regulations laid down in the StVO are in fact communicated to road traffic through the appropriate traffic signs.
From Roman milestones to today's StVO-compliant traffic signs
For as long as man has been using highways and byways, there have been roadside signs to make travel from one place to another easier. The Romans had their milestones, nowadays we have traffic signs, signposts and gantry-mounted signage to give road users directions and indicate mileage to the desired destination. However, not only has the number of roads changed since Roman times, there has also been a huge increase in the number of road signs needed to keep road traffic ordered and safe. Even though the StVO specifications, on which the traffic signs are based, have often been modified and extended since they were first laid down in 1937, their original function has not changed. The main purpose of the StVO is to ensure that traffic is safe and runs smoothly for all road users. An important role in this - especially with respect to signage visibility - is played by the retroreflective microprismatic sheeting materials used by Bremicker Verkehrstechnik.
Retroreflective microprismatic sheeting
Traffic signs provided with retroreflective sheeting material are often better equipped to pass on vital traffic information because they provide greater visibility. This is a reponsibility that Bremicker Verkehrstechnik takes very seriously; and that is why we use microprismatic reflective face material for our traffic signs, which not only complies with the recognised quality specifications, but also exceeds them by providing greater reflective efficiency than actually required in all categories (RAL 1 - RAL 3).
How a traffic sign is put together
The metal backing layer to which the sheeting material is applied is of high-grade aluminium alloy. The reverse is coloured traffic grey (Verkehrsgrau) to prevent any confusing reflection off the surface of the aluminium. There are three different ways of making an StVO-compliant traffic sign:
- as a flat face traffic sign (aluminium 2 and 3 mms thick, without reinforcement round the edges)
- as an Alkant sign (the flanged rim and installation without the need for drill holes mean that the sign face itself remains intact)
- as an Alform sign (traffic sign made from 2 mm aluminium, rim reinforced with aluminium section frame. Signs larger than 1.5 square metres made of 3 mm aluminium with reinforced ALFORM II section)
Manufacturing traffic signs
Today there are various production methods for processing retroreflective microprismatic sheeting to make a traffic sign or a direction signpost. Multicoloured signage can be manufactured either manually using screen printing techniques or by combining sheeting materials in a number of different colours. Another method, which offers a variety of design and colour combinations, employs an innovative digital printing process.
With screen printing, the sheet material is printed ready in the correct shape. The different motifs and colours are screened one after the other onto the sheeting. This means that the sheet material for a traffic sign face may have to go through up to four printing operations before it is completed. Each individual sheet undergoes a manual quality check. Only sheets rated 100% are allowed to go on to the next production stage.
In the case of signage produced in small numbers only, for instance signs showing place names, conventional printing methods are used, and the lettering and motifs are plotted and detached from a separate sheet and then stuck onto the retroreflective sheeting .
Compared with the two techniques described above, digital printing has several advantages. The digital printer transfers all the necessary information to the sheeting in one printing run. A protective layer is then added. This ensures that the surface is uniformly smooth, thus preventing ingress of dirt, or damaging which might arise if there were any irregularities around the edges of the characters. The printer uses UV inks and is therefore much more environment-friendly than the conventional method of printing.