Foam-Core Alien featured in Sign Builder Illustrated magazine

Signs By Benchmark, a division of Benchmark Foam, hand-sculpted a 20′ foam-core alien, made of its expanded polystyrene (EPS), for a sign project collaboration for the new Dunkin’ location in Roswell, New Mexico.

20-ft Foam Core Alien

By Jeff Wooten

Back in July of 1947, newspapers initially reported that a crashed flying saucer had been recovered near Roswell, New Mexico. While the explanations regarding what really happened back then have changed over the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is that this city of 48,000-plus remains a mecca for UFO enthusiasts and believers to this day.

And while today’s Roswell citizens and visitors probably won’t find smoking gun evidence of actual “little green men,” they can look up and see proof of a giant one!

This oversized green alien stands in the parking lot of a new Dunkin-Baskin Robbins restaurant that opened on North Main Street this past December. The entire display arrives at a total of twenty-six feet tall.

There are a lot of (inter)stellar ingredients that make up the DNA of this alien – an internal steel pipe and tube structure, aluminum extrusions, aluminum angle, a polycarbonate face and LED electrical component for the sign cabinet, and foam. It was this last substrate that led national sign company Persona, Inc. to make contact with wholesale foam-core provider Signs By Benchmark, also of Watertown, S.D. “They wanted to see if it was even feasible to build something like this and what changes would be needed to make everything work,” says Jamie Kakacek, senior designer at Signs By Benchmark.

Persona assembled the steel internal support structure and provided it to Benchmark so that they could build the alien around it. This support structure was incorporated into the alien’s torso. Horizontal support sleeves for the steel tubes were embedded within the arms.

Foam Core 20 ft. Alien

The outline of the shapes was cut using CNC hot wire cutting equipment. “This gave us a base piece to work with,” says Kakacek. “However, to get the actual shape of the alien, we opted to sculpt the entire body by hand. This allowed it a less manufactured look.”

There were several advantages to using foam to build the alien. “Foam is a very unique medium that allows quite a bit of freedom, especially when it comes to sculpting,” says Kakacek. “Because we mold the foam that goes into our signs, we can cut parts from blocks as large as eighteen feet tall, which can help eliminate a lot of seams.”

Signs By Benchmark started assembly at the bottom and worked their way up, piece by piece. Kakacek admits construction was pretty labor intensive on this project. After assembly, Signs By Benchmark worked on the final shaping of the alien. “We had to pay close attention to each joint where we married pieces together and make sure we didn’t have any noticeable seams running all the way up the side,” says Kakacek.

According to Kakacek, the sheer size of the alien was their biggest concern. “Initially we thought about building the body in sections so that it would be easier to handle around the shop,” he says. “During the production phase, everyone agreed that building the body as one piece would provide a better finished product. While it was a little challenging trying to maneuver around the body, it gave us a much better perspective on how everything looked since we could take a step (or twenty) back to see what needed attention.”

Response to the new alien pole cover provided by the intelligent life behind this project has been out of this world! Customers and passerby onlookers have all raved about the newest, extra special, extraterrestrial addition to the Roswell landscape.

To read the full story in the February 2019 issue of Sign Builder Illustrated magazine, click here.

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