Popco now offers heat-bent acrylic products

Though we've tackled heat-bending projects in the past, those projects have been rather few and far between. Now, due to increased customer demand, we've stepped up our production of these products. Among our most recent heat-bending projects was the beast shown above. What made this piece so beastly is its size. It measures roughly 8-inches tall and a whopping 36-inches long. If you don't know much about heat bending, trust us, 36-inches is a boundary-pushing dimension.

We designed the bottom of the display to open easily and accommodate a printed insert. The insert slides down the length of the display, then, closing the bottom pinches down on the insert, holding it in place.

The underside of the display features six rubber bumpers that keep the display from sliding around and make it less tippy. Initially, we produced the display from .080" thick acrylic. Then, to reduce weight and cost, we switched to .060" thick material. In the end we learned a great deal about producing a piece this large and we can apply those lessons to smaller, more typical displays.

Our heat-bent displays are custom-order only. If you have a project that calls for this type of product, please contact Popco. One of our sales representative will discuss your project with you and provide a quote.

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Discontinued Popco polygon hubs are at rock-bottom prices

Do you remember 8-track tapes? How about cassettes? Probably not; the list of dead formats is pretty long. Well, for years now, CDs and DVDs have been vying to join the obsolescence club. At one time, a number of Popco customer's used the polygon hubs (shown above) as center spindles for mounting CDs and DVDs to brochures and promo kits. The polygon hubs where (are) a great product but the demand is so sparse now that our remaining hubs are marked down, down, down!

Originally, the polygon hubs sold for over $100 a roll (2500 pieces per roll).
Now, the few remaining rolls we have are selling for $33 each.

The hubs are also used as bumpers and, at this price, they've become a very cost-effective alternative to other types of bumpers. Because of the non-compressible, dense properties of the hubs, they are ideal for projects where there will be significant weight on the hub; they'll hold up when foam hubs compress flat.

If you've got a project requiring the polygon hubs, please check them out now. We won't be restocking these parts.

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Popco's black snap-rings used outdoors

Here’s an addition to an ancient post (August, 2012) in which we spoke about colorizing metal parts such as our steel snap rings and wire hooks:

Recently, a customer asked if these parts can be used outdoors; something we hadn’t addressed in the original post. The answer is, yes and no. In the case of the steel snap rings, the answer is yes. This is because the rings, in their silver-colored state, are nickel plated which makes them rust resistant. When we coat the rings to make them black, we increase the part’s resistance to rust.

For the wire hooks, the answer is no.They are not nickel plated and are more vulnerable to rusting. Black-coating the hooks does reduce rusting, but we still recommend that the hooks be used indoors only. In fact, that is our recommendation for the rings as well.

All said and done, the customer did use the black rings outdoors and has been perfectly satisfied with the results. Now we know, our coating process works a bit like a nickel finish and increases rust resistance.

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Popco’s binding post assembly tips

Among our most popular products are the push-lock post and screws. These two-piece parts are meant for rapid hand-assembly of displays and swatch books and are available in a variety of lengths, head sizes and colors.

A primary feature of these parts is that they require no tools or threading to join together. Assembly is as simple as pressing the male and female parts together as shown above.

Some of our customers who have used large quantities of these parts have asked us if a tool is available for assembly. Assembling hundreds or thousands of pieces by hand is, to say the least, an uncomfortable, blister-producing proposition.

We’ve found a perfectly effective, low-tech and low-cost solution: a simple wooden dowel. The wood surface will not damage the screw or post heads and using the dowel, as shown above, eliminates the strain on the thumb and fore finger.

Popco does not sell the dowels that we recommend using, but nearly any hardware store will have dowels that will work. If your project requires assembly of displays or swatch books using push-lock posts and screws, spare yourself the discomfort and try this practical assembly technique.

To view our selection of posts and screws, click here.

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Minnesota’s seasons: winter & road construction

Here’s a special blog post dedicated to hardy Twin-Citians who live with this reality: In Minnesota there are two seasons, winter and road-construction. This year, we’re experiencing both at the same time since the main drag to Popco, Highway 169, is shut down for repair and will remain closed until October!

If you’ve driven on Highway 169 during rush hours, you know that the experience is like something from Dante’s Inferno. Now, during construction, the suffering will be ratcheted up a couple of circles. Still, there’s hope and there are alternative routes leading to Popco that are not too terribly inconvenient.

We've prepared a few suggested routes that reach our location from well known streets and highways such as Shady Oak Road, Excelsior Blvd and Highways 100 and 62. For a printable map, CLICK HERE. More details on this project and others in the twin cities are available online, click: MNDOT.

The second photo in this post was shot on the morning of January 23, the first day of demolition. The view is to the north from the Bren Avenue bridge.

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Popco's TOB series literature boxes

In the past year Popco experienced a happy uptick in sales of our TOB literature boxes. These economical and versatile boxes are made from clear PVC and feature fold-back mounting tabs with foam tape strips. The boxes ship flat and fold into position along scored impressions. The tape tabs allow the boxes to be mounted to displays or signs so that they can accept take-away literature pieces.

Our most popular sizes are in stock and ready for immediate shipment. To view these boxes, click here. Many more size options are available as custom runs from our existing dies. To view the run-to-order boxes, click here. If you can’t find a size that’s right for your project, give us a call, we can quote a box made specifically to your specifications.

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Popco’s miter-cut frame sets

As a custom-order, Popco’s sign channels can be miter-cut to create three-sided frames. Using the foam or film tape on the back of the channels, the frame can then be mounted to walls or displays creating a space for sign inserts.

Popco has two methods of miter cutting, each with benefits and drawbacks. Our most sophisticated method is jig-cutting. We do this at our extrusion facility when we run channels specific to a project. The beauty of this method is the accuracy of the mitered joint. As shown in the photo above, there is little, if any “slop” where the two 45 degree angles meet. The downside to this method is that we can only offer jig cutting on rather large orders (runs of 2500 linear feet of material or greater).

Another method of miter cutting is to drop-cut stock material. This means no special run is required and orders for small quantities are acceptable.  Unfortunately, the accuracy of our drop-cut frame sets doesn’t rival the jig-cut method. Still, for many usages, the drop-cut frames are accurate enough and their function is the same as the jig-cut frames.

Our miter cutting services are only offered on sign channels such as our SC-70 series channels. Unfortunately, extrusions like our foam board edge protector and SNAPRAILS™ are not well suited to miter cutting; we know, we tried.  Also, all miter cutting jobs, both jig-cut and drop-cut, are custom order only and require extra lead time.

If custom frame sets are useful for your project or promotion, please contact Popco and a sales representative will prepare a quote for you.

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More on Popco's custom cutting

In our blog post from October 2014, we wrote about our cutting methods and devices. Briefly recapping that old post: Popco can cut sign-bases, SNAPRAIL™, poster rails and sign channels to customer’s specifications. Our heavy sign-bases are saw cut, and SNAPRAILS™, poster rails and sign channels are cut on our guillotine custom cutter (shown).

Custom cutting has become increasingly popular and this has resulted in some customer requests that we simply can’t fulfill, namely the ability to attain very precise dimensions.

As you can see, the dimension gauge on our guillotine cutter is in inches. Some customers have requested cut dimensions in decimals that do not translate easily into inches. An example would be a recent request for pieces cut to the length 10.6525. The inch equivalent to this is roughly 10-21/32”. What we can accept is requests in fractions that are no smaller than 1/16”, and our tolerance is +/- 1/16”.

Another issue is that the protective guards on our guillotine cutter prevent us from cutting pieces shorter than three inches. Check out the gruesome safety label on the cutter guard (shown above). We’ve not had an accident yet and, so long as we don’t attempt cuts shorter than 3-inches in-house, we hope to continue our sterling safety record.

Please call Popco for more information on custom cutting. Our sales representatives will tell you everything you need to know. For custom-cutting costs, check out our cutting-fee charts online. Here’s the link.

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Popco partners with ProAct

ProAct is an organization, based in Eagan, Minnesota, that serves people with disabilities and other barriers to employment and community inclusion. In addition to life training and transportation services, ProAct connects employers from the Twin Cities area, southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin with quality employees.

ProAct also offers businesses like Popco assembly, packaging and light manufacturing services. Since 2011, Popco has relied on ProAct for hand assembly of a number of our products such as our suction cups with hooks, flag clips and mirror clips.

Recently, ProAct honored Popco with the Business Partner of the Year award. In the words of Dave Cavalier, ProAct's Director of Production Services, this award is "...given only when a customer and ProAct have formed an extraordinary business connection." – "The assembly and packaging jobs from Popco have provided many hundreds of hours of work for our clients."

Since we have enormous respect for ProAct, we are deeply honored by this. We have every intention of continuing our relationship with ProAct and spreading the word of ProAct's marvelous mission.


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BPA, phthalates and other fishy things

Recently, a customer asked if Popco’s suction cups included BPA. This customer intended to use the suction cups in an aquarium and they wanted to be certain that the suction cups would not contaminate the tank and affect the fish.

BPA (bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical found in polycarbonate plastics. Studies have indicated that polycarbonate food containers that contain BPA can affect the food or beverages stored in those containers and result in a variety of negative health effects.

Popco’s suction cups are made from PVC and include no BPA. As such, our suction cups are compliant with the European Directive, RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances). However, Popco’s suction cups do contain phthalates, chemical substances used to soften plastics. The European Union’s REACH agreement identifies phthalates as substances of concern due to potential health risks. In California, proposition 65 listed DINP (di isononyl phthalate) as a chemical known to the State to cause cancer.

There are a number of categories into which phthalates fall. Some phthalates, including those used in Popco’s suction cups, have FDA approval. These phthalates are not considered harmful, in fact, they are found in products such as cosmetics, toys, food packaging and even medical blood bags and tubing.

What does this all mean: Popco’s suction cups do not rely on materials known to be harmful. Still, our suction cups are designed for, and primarily used for, the point-of-purchase display industry. We do not market our products to the food industry and we suggest that the suction cups be used in POP settings, not food settings. As for aquariums: We think the fish will like our suction cups just fine.

goldfish photo courtesy of depositphotos

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