By Melissa Donovan
The eco-friendly conversation continues across all aspects of print. Paper-, fiber-, and wood-based products are top of mind when discussing rigid board, however great strides are made in recycled acrylics. These materials offer similar characteristics to virgin acrylic, with the added sustainability advantage.
Above: Acrylic Design Associates, based in Minneapolis, MN worked with Recrylic recycled acrylic to create two fixtures for upscale grocery store chain Lunds & Byerlys.
Frontline players are among some of the first to realize demand for innovative products and recycled acrylic is no exception. Acrylic Design Associates, based in Minneapolis, MN, has been in business since 1976. Founded by Bill McNeely, Sr. the company is a provider of custom manufacturing solutions, including retail displays, LED fixtures, signage, artwork, architectural features, and precision manufacturing products.
Two buildings that total 250,000 combined square feet host a large collection of retail/architectural display machining technologies. This includes CNC, laser, and VMC machining; thermoforming; digital and screen printing; painting; and LED illumination. The vast portfolio allows a staff of 100 to offer design, engineering, prototyping, and full-service production as well as consolidation, assembly, warehousing, and logistics.
A range of production equipment including EFI VUTEk GS3250 Pro-TF and EFI Pro 30f printers enables Acrylic Design Associates to work with different materials. 50 percent of the work conducted in house includes digital printing on rigid substrates such as acrylic, styrene, PETG and other high-performance plastics, as well as aluminum composite material and other metals.
The company enjoys working with Recrylic—its proprietary line of certified recycled acrylic sheets. “Recrylic looks, performs, and costs the same as virgin acrylic, but cuts carbon emissions by 90 percent. It is certified under Global Recycled Standard and Recycled Content Certification. We also collect and recycle used acrylic, which can be turned into new Recrylic sheets in a closed-loop lifecycle,” explains Bill McNeely, Jr., president, Acrylic Design Associates.
Recrylic is available in the same colors and finishes as virgin acrylic. According to McNeely, it offers similar characteristics to virgin acrylic in all respects.
A recent job that included digitally printed Recrylic was for Lunds & Byerlys, a MN-based upscale grocery chain. In 2022, the retailer opened a new store in St. Paul, MN in a mixed-used development referred to as Highland Bridge that was once the site of a former Ford assembly plant. The developers were looking to achieve sustainable construction and operations.
Inside the grocery store, Lunds & Byerlys wanted to include two signature design fixtures that conveyed the site’s history and current sustainable focus. The initial designs were provided by architect Shea, Inc. and Acrylic Design Associates engineered the fixtures, providing recommendations for construction and illumination.
The first fixture, referred to as the “salad bowl” includes illuminated artwork consisting of a clear halo ring with large green leaves. The leaves are digitally printed Recrylic, which was heat formed into curved shapes. The words “Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen” were laser cut into the printed Recrylic and then a thin strip of LED lights was applied to the bottom of the halo, pointing upward.
The second fixture is an illuminated feature wall that spotlights Model T Ford artwork. Along a narrow hallway, digitally printed Recrylic is framed by Acrylic Design Associate’s proprietary frame system. Recrylic is also used as the light-guide plate underneath that evenly distributes LED lighting without cold or hot spots.
Acrylic Design Associates is spearheading the recycled acrylic market. With Recrylic it offers all the benefits of acrylic while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint. Being in tune with sustainable-minded buyers contributes to the company’s success.
Feb2024, Digital Output