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Testimonials

These signs look fantastic! We are very very happy with them and will most likely be ordering more down the road. They not only look great but are extremely convenient and easy to setup. Perhaps even our having them will drive a little more business your way.

Thanks again!

Richard Flathmann


Product Spotlight

wave outdoor retractable banner stand

Emboss Vinyl Wallcoverings

This commercial grade Type II fabric backed cadmium-free vinyl wallcovering comes in 6 different emobss patterns and has a unique safety feature. It has a special Early Warning Effect built in that can trigger ionization-type smoke detectors before smoke or flames are present, giving anywhere from a few extra seconds to a half hour or more of time. So, it's not only beautiful, but it could actually save lives. More info...


Outdoor Signs


outdoor signOutdoor signs are an important form of advertising and a way to provide direction or information. Utilizing our high resolution full color output, we can create high impact outdoor signage projects. Our wide variety of outdoor sign materials are far superior in quality and flexibility to traditional hand painted, cut vinyl or silk screened signs, and remove the limitations on the types of designs you can produce when you're limited to one of those methods. Our large format custom outdoor signs have up to a 5 year warranty, and the additional advantage of being produced digitally. That means you can make just one outdoor sign without expensive setup charges, or make lots of outdoor signs and each one can be customized if necessary.

building wrapsSome uses include architectural and custom real estate signs, development signs, real estate yard signs, political campaign signs, lawn signs, outdoor directories, environmental graphics, outdoor retail signage and promotional displays, corrugated signs, bus shelters, busboards, billboards, taxi top displays, and more.

There are many of our other products, such as window graphics, banners, decals, and vehicle graphics that can be considered outdoor signs as well, but each of those types of graphics has their own page, which can be found in the main menu above, so this page focuses instead on more traditional outdoor signs that are mounted on rigid materials to make full color, eye catching sign faces.

outdoor signsWe print on a wide variety of materials so we can accommodate the needs for any custom outdoor signs, custom real estate signs, or any special need such as retro reflective materials that light up at night or special adhesive material that can stick to concrete and cinder block walls. For other special needs, we even have adhesive materials that stick to low energy plastics such as polyethylene. That makes it possible to add outdoor signs and graphics to materials and surfaces that often can't even be screen printed.

custom outdoor signsThe Available Materials tab below shows the wide range of sign we offer. Look through the materials in that tab to get information for each, and maybe get an idea or two for something different. Our large selection of outdoor sign materials means we have products to fit any need, and to fit any budget. If you don't see something you're looking for, please Contact Us for assistance.

Be sure to look through the FAQ tab below for helpful information and answers to common questions about outdoor sign, and the Our Recommendations tab for suggestions on the best materials to use for different situations.

This page is devoted to sign graphics. If you are looking for banners or outdoor sign hardware and displays, be sure to look at the different options available under Display Hardware in the main menu above.

If you would like to get prices on printing and shipping, or place an order, click the Pricing/Order button next to each item in the Printing Materials tab. The Pricing/Order wizard will prompt you for the necessary information such as quantity, dimensions and finishing options to show you prices in real time, and allow you to enter you state and zip code to see the shipping costs. If you're ready to order, you can provide additional information such as how you're sending files or if you need design work, if you want a proof, and how you want us to handle cropping of your files if necessary, and then add the print to your shopping cart. You can also compare product prices in the wizard by clicking the Products tab and selecting different materials from the drop down menu to see how the price changes.

eco friendlyThis symbol denotes a eco-friendly option. These materials are generally PVC free, recyclable, and printed with water based inks as an earth-friendly option.

  • Printing Materials
  • Recommendations
  • FAQ

To find pricing information for printing on any of the materials below, click the Pricing/Order buttons.

Outdoor Sign Materials

These outdoor sign materials are all high quality products that are designed for different applications. Read the descriptions below and check out the Our Recommendations tab for suggestions on which materials are best for different situations.

eco friendlyThis symbol denotes a eco-friendly option. These materials are generally PVC free, recyclable, and printed with water based inks as an earth-friendly option.

poster printing

eco friendlyBlue Back Poster Paper – 6.5 Mil

The blue backing on this economical media makes it highly opaque, while the satin finish provides brilliant, true-to-life color quality. Specially designed for outdoor billboards, poster printing and kiosks, it features water and scratch resistant durability and is also easily foldable without risk of scratching or rupturing. Available in widths up to 54".

Approx. longevity of 6 months to 1 year outdoors, and up to 20 years indoors.
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poster size prints

eco friendlyIndoor/Outdoor Poster Paper - 10 mil

This heavy weight latex-saturated wet strength paper is tear resistant, water proof, fade resistant, and scuff and scratch resistant, making it an excellent choice for indoor and outdoor poster size prints and billboards. This paper can also be applied with standard wallpaper paste for an inexpensive short term wallpaper solution. Available in widths up to 54"

Approx. longevity of 6 months outdoors, and up to 20 years indoors.
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retail sign

Economy Calendered Matte Vinyl - 4 mil

With an outdoor longevity of up to 3 years, this permanent adhesive backed vinyl is excellent for outdoor retail sales signs and POS poster graphics. It has a blockout layer for excellent hiding power and the gloss finish makes for excellent color depth. Can also be used indoors for sign and point of purchase displays. Will adhere to any smooth surface such as Alumalite, acrylic, Sintra, metal, or painted wood surfaces. Available in widths up to 60".

Longevity of up to 3 years outdoors, 5-25 years indoors.
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window decal

Economy Calendered Gloss Vinyl - 4 mil

With an outdoor longevity of up to 3 years, this permanent adhesive backed vinyl is excellent for outdoor retail sales signs and POS poster graphics. It has a blockout layer for excellent hiding power and the gloss finish makes for excellent color depth. Can also be used indoors for sign and point of purchase displays. Will adhere to any smooth surface such as Alumalite, acrylic, Sintra, metal, or painted wood surfaces. Available in widths up to 60".

Longevity of up to 3 years outdoors, 5-25 years indoors.
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custom vinyl wall graphics

Premium Calendered Matte Vinyl - 4 mil

This removable adhesive backed vinyl features an air release liner for easier installation, and a grey opaque solvent adhesive for excellent hiding power. Longevity of up to 3 years outdoors unprotected, or up to 5 years with a cast vinyl laminate. Excellent indoors or out for installation on smooth flat surfaces or subtle curves, making it excellent for custom vinyl decals and bumper stickers, and well as equipment labels. Will adhere to any smooth surface such as Alumalite, acrylic, Sintra, metal, or painted wood surfaces. Available in widths up to 60".


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car window decals

Premium Calendered Gloss Vinyl - 4 mil

This removable adhesive backed vinyl features an air release liner for easier installation, and a grey opaque solvent adhesive for excellent hiding power. Longevity of up to 3 years outdoors unprotected, or up to 5 years with a cast vinyl laminate. Excellent indoors or out for installation on smooth flat surfaces or subtle curves, making it excellent for custom vinyl decals and bumper stickers, and well as equipment labels. Will adhere to any smooth surface such as Alumalite, acrylic, Sintra, metal, or painted wood surfaces. Available in widths up to 60".


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store signage

Building Wrap Vinyl - 3.5 mil

This opaque vinyl is used in wall and building wrap applications where many standard products will not work. It also allows store signs and retail posters to be applied to otherwise unusable wall areas. For rough textured concrete, the pressure sensitive adhesive provides easy application and removal while holding the graphic in place throughout the life of the advertisement. Available in widths up to 54".

Outdoor longevity of up to 2 years, indoors 5-25 years.
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custom decals

Arlon 8000 Adhesive Vinyl - 3.8 mil

This satin white engineered vinyl is designed for graphics that will be installed in cold temperatures or on hard to stick to surfaces. It features an aggressive, high tack, permanent adhesive that can stick to low energy surfaces such as concrete, brick, or polyethylene, that other adhesives will not adhere to. Available in widths up to 54".

Outdoor longevity of 2-3 years without lamination, or up to 5 years with lamination.
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political signs

Premium Reflective Adhesive Vinyl

This fleet engineering grade reflective film features an air release liner for easier installation without bubbles. It is a highly durable and conformable so it can be used on flat surfaces or over rivets and simple curves. It makes for eye catching graphics that can be seen at night as the material will catch headlights or other light sources and illuminate the graphic. Meets or exceeds Federal specifications ASTM D 4956. Should not be wet applied. Cleanly removable for 4 years with heat. Available in widths up to 60". Up to 5 year outdoor longevity with laminate.
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Finishing Options

These are the laminates and adhesives we recommend for outdoor signs.

Satin Eco-Friendly Polypropylene Laminate - 3 Mil

This satin finished pressure sensitive laminate offers surface protection for long-lasting, durable graphics with materials that are free of PVC (vinyl) or heavy metals. The absence of heavy metals or phthalates reduces the risk of damaging the health of humans or the environment. Compared to PVC laminating films, polypropylene provides better image clarity for more accurate, vivid colors. This film is a great option for indoor graphics at children’s museums, or other environments, where visitors are encouraged to touch the displays. This laminate is intended for indoor use, but can be used outdoors for up to 6 months.

Vinyl Laminate - 4 Mil

This pressure sensitive laminate is excellent for indoor use, and is available in gloss, luster or matte finishes, with the matte finish being the most popular as it has a sand texture like polycarbonate that diffuses glare without muting the colors of the print. Laminates offers surface protection and can change the finish of your print to suit the display environment. When a high-gloss finish is desired, and glare is not a concern, gloss is the appropriate choice. Keep in mind that a gloss finish will show flaws, scratches and fingerprints more than any other laminate. Luster and matte offer the same protection without these disadvantages.

Cast Vinyl Laminate - Matte or Gloss

These pressure sensitive laminates are recommended to protect and extend the life of our Economy Calendered Adhesive Vinyl or MagicStik products. They have the highest degree of UV resistance and add thickness to the print making the graphics easier to install.

Polycarbonate Laminate - 5 and 10 Mil

These pressure sensitive laminates, also know as Lexan, are the most durable available. They resist scratches, abrasion and chemicals, and their textured velvet finish hides fingerprints and diffuses glare. They also provide a unique optical technology that prevents the laminate from making the print darker or dulling the color.

Permanent Adhesive

While not technically a laminate, this pressure sensitive adhesive applied to the back turns any print into a decal, complete with peel-off release liner. We can apply the adhesive and either send the print rolled for mounting to the surface of your choice, or mount the print for you to a variety of substrates. See the Mounting Materials section below for more information.

Coroplast

This corrugated plastic is popular for inexpensive, short-term use signs like political signs, custom yard signs, custom real estate signs, and other outdoor signs that need to be light weight and cost effective. Also know as Corx, it's our least expensive mounting material. It's not as rigid as our other materials, especially in larger sizes, so more support must be used to keep larger signs flat.

Sintra

This expanded PVC plastic board is available in 1mm, 3mm and 6mm thicknesses. It's water resistant and fire retardant, making it desirable for display applications. Sintra expands and contracts with temperature changes, up to .05 mil/ft per degree F, so that must be taken into account when using it for outdoor signs.

Acrylic

Also called Plexiglas, this clear plastic sheeting is great for mounting backlit graphics, either on the surface, or face first the back side, called second surface mounting. It comes in many weights, but only the 1/4" thickness is on our price list, but all other weights are available. Lexan is also available when greater impact resistance is needed. Call for pricing.

Dibond

At only 3mm thick, this material is made from Sintra sandwiched between layers of aluminum sheeting. It has the strength of plywood with a fraction of the thickness and weight. Plus, it's a smooth and uniform surface so there are no surface imperfections to show through to the mounted graphics as with wood, and graphics can adhere better so they won't come off prematurely. It's similar to Alumalite, but thinner and more resistant to dents from physical impact due to the solid core, but not quite as rigid.

Alumalite

This is the premium mounting material for outdoor sign graphics. This material is 3/16 inch thick corrugated plastic sandwiched between layers of aluminum sheeting making it impervious to the elements. It has the strength of plywood with a fraction of the thickness and weight. Plus, it's a smooth and uniform surface so there are no surface imperfections to show through to the mounted graphics as with wood, and graphics can adhere better so they won't come off prematurely. It's similar to Dibond, but thicker and more susceptible to dents from physical impact due to the corrugated core, but more rigid.

 

Outdoor Materials

Blue Back Poster paper and Indoor/Outdoor Poster paper are good for papered billboards or any outdoor signs where the graphic is pasted to a board. These are the materials that were used for years in producing billboards before giant vinyl banners became the material of choice. They are basically applied with wallpaper paste in sheets or strips and these materials are still used for smaller billboards and in places where it's not possible to stretch a banner around a frame.

While not shown on this page, Scrim Banner Vinyls can be stretched over wood and stapled in place for economical custom outdoor signs. They don't have the longevity of the adhesive backed materials, and won't stay as flat, especially over time, but if you already have a plywood outdoor sign that you want to cover, this can be an inexpensive solution or great for short term use. Visit our Banners page for more information on those materials.

For rigid outdoor sign faces, one of our adhesive vinyl products mounted to a rigid substrate would be the most common approach. The differences between the products we offer is mostly in the adhesives. The Economy Vinyl has an permanent acrylic adhesive, which makes it inexpensive but it doesn't hold up as long as the solvent based adhesives in the more expensive products, such as our Premium Vinyl. The Economy Vinyl is rated at 4 years, so it's great for any project that doesn't need to last longer than that, or for inexpensive unlaminated signs, since unlaminated prints are only rated at about 3 years before they start to fade. This is by far our most popular outdoor sign material.

The Premium Vinyl is an excellent choice when you want the longest lasting sign possible, although without a laminate, it won't generally last any longer than the Economy Vinyl. It features an air release liner to make it easier to install without bubbles. There are some some surfaces that this vinyl will stick to better than the Economy, but mostly the difference is how well it will stay in place over the life of the graphic, while still being cleanly removable.

For surfaces that traditional adhesive vinyls won't adhere to, we have special products so that almost any surface can become a sign face. For brick, concrete, cinder block or similar surfaces, our Building Wrap vinyl is an excellent product. It will securely stick to these textured surfaces, yet remains cleanly removable. For low energy plastics, such as polyethylene, the Arlon 8000 vinyl is a great choice. These types of plastics can't normally have adhesive vinyl applied to them, or even be screen printed, but this vinyl will hold and gives you options you wouldn't normally have.

Finishing Options

For laminates, either the gloss, matte or textured cast vinyl will provide the most UV protection to make any print more fade resistant and give it maximum life. Traditional matte laminates reduce glare, but produce duller color, but the textured product reduces glare without dulling the color so it's our favorite for outdoor signs. It's not as conformable as the standard matte or gloss, so it's not appropriate for vehicle graphics, though. Our regular vinyl laminates are great physical protection don't provide the extended fade resistance of the cast vinyl.

Though not specifically listed here, we also have Tedlar laminates that are the premier graffiti proofing laminates, so if you have need of the most graffiti protection you can get, please contact us for more info.

Coroplast is the least expensive mounting material. It's popular for political signs, lawn signs, real estate signs, golf course sponsor signs, or any corrugated plastic signs that don't need to last a long time. Dibond and Alumalite are the best mounting materials for outdoor sign use. They are impervious to weather, rigid enough to be mounted in a variety of ways, and can be reused when needed. They have 10 year outdoor warranties, so they are popular when you want to be able to change the graphic without having to purchase a new mounting board, such as a real estate development where the board can have a new graphic applied and moved to a new development once the current project sells out.

Normal turnaround time is 4-5 business days. During the order process you will be asked if you have a specific due date, and if you do, we will adjust your shipping method, if necessary, to get your order to you on time. If you need your order even quicker, we also have a rush service. If you authorize rush charges, we can get your order shipped in 1-2 days. Rush charges are $75 per order. If we're able to meet your deadline without bumping other jobs, we won't actually charge the rush charge, but you must authorize the rush to guarantee delivery.

For high quality prints that look good up close, we recommend files be 150dpi at the actual size they will be printed. For outdoor signs, lower resolution files tend to work since most outdoor signs will be viewed from 5 feet away or more. At that distance, 72-100 dpi files will still look fine. We use special software to enlarge smaller files for printing at larger sizes, but the larger your original files, the better the results will be so you should always use the largest files you can. When in doubt, send us your file and we'll examine it and let you know how large we think it can go and still look good.

We don't charge either of these common fees. In our opinion, charging setup and RIP fees would be like advertising a price for gasoline, but charging a pumping fee to get it into your car. It's misleading and since you can't print a job without setting it up and processing it through a RIP, like the gasoline is of no use if it isn't pumped into your tank, it should be reflected in the prices already. They are just hidden fees to increase the cost of your job in a way that makes a companies printing prices look more competitive. As long as you provide print ready files, there are no additional charges related to printing your job.

We can, but it's not always practical. If you have a large number of panels, it can be cost effective to have us ship your sign faces already mounted, but for small quantities, it's more cost effective to order the adhesive backed vinyl, with or without a laminate, and either mount it to the sign face material yourself, or even hire an installer to mount it for you. We use a nation wide network of installers so we can help you arrange for installation if needed.

These instructions are provided for our customers that want to install their own adhesive vinyl sign graphics. Tools you will need: Scissors, Xacto knife or razor blade, soft squeegee or protect the image with paper (hard squeegee will damage the print), and masking tape.

General Notes

  • If applying a vinyl graphic that is not laminated, use a soft squeegee or protect the image with paper during installation to prevent damage to the printed image.
  • Apply vinyl in the shade (no direct sunlight).
  • The ideal temperature would be between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wind or wind gusts will cause problems.

 

Surface Preparation

  • All surfaces should be considered dirty and must be cleaned prior to installation. Clean the area where the graphics are to be applied with a household, non-ammonia based cleaner. We recommend an alcohol based cleaner such as denatured alcohol or equivalent. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  • Air and surface temperatures must be above 40 degrees.

 

Applying the Adhesive Vinyl

  • Position your graphic in the desired location and tack into place on each end with small pieces of masking tape.
  • Peel back about 2” of the release liner away from the top edge on the adhesive side of your graphic.
  • Cut that section of the release liner off and discard.
  • Squeegee down the exposed edge of the graphic starting from the center and working towards the edges. Let the squeegee cause the contact with the mounting surface and brush from the center outward using overlapping 45 degree angled strokes.
  • Flip the graphic up, or have an assistant hold it up and start to peel back the remaining release liner.
  • Pull back a few inches of the release liner at a time and squeegee the graphic into place using the same technique as above.
  • If you get an air bubble, you can either lift the decal enough to release the air, or if the bubbles are not too large, you can pop them with a pin and squeegee the bubble toward the pin hole to squeeze out the air.
  • Once the entire decal is applied, squeegee the entire decal once more to ensure a firm bond with the surface.

 

We get asked this all the time, but the answer isn't easy because the legibility of the type depends on the viewing distance. There is an actual math formula to calculate the best size for type legibility from a particular distance, but it's rather technical, so we like to use the simpler method of making the cap height of the type 1/200 of the viewing distance. For example, if you want your type to be legible from 100 feet, you would want 6 inch tall letters (100 feet/200 = .5 feet or 6 inches).

Also, sans serif type faces are more legible from a distance and in short blocks, while serif type faces are easier to read in longer passages of text. That's why road signs are almost always in a sans serif type face such as Helvetica, and books and magazines are almost always in a serif type face such as Times.

Generally with a sign, the bigger the better. Depending on the type of sign you want, there are some practical considerations. If you are planning on ordering adhesive vinyl mounted to a rigid substrate, or ordering adhesive vinyl that you will mount to a substrate yourself, keep in mind the sizes that the substrate comes in. For example, virtually all mounting materials, such as coroplast, sintra, Dibond, or Alumalite, all come in 4x8 sheets. Some come in larger sizes like 4x10 or 5x10, but these sizes tend to be less common, more expensive and harder to find. Because of this, it's most economical to make your sign a size that will utilize as much of a 4x8 sheet, or one of the other sizes, as possible.

When it comes to mounting, a 3x8 sign face will cost as much to mount as a 4x8 since the 1x8 scrap is not easily usable, so it would make more sense to do a full 4x8 if possible. Similarly a 3x3 is a bad fit since you can only get two of this size from a 4x8 sheet, where you could get 8 2x2 boards or two 4x4 from the same board.

For larger sign faces, multiple boards are put together to form the sign, so keeping the size in multiples of full sheets is the most economical. Popular sizes are 8x8, 8x12 and 8x16 since they use 2, 3 and 4 full 4x8 sheets respectively.

It's a good idea to keep these kinds of sizing issues in mind when planning the size of your sign.

Depending on the size of your sign, the techniques can vary, but the most common way to install a sign face is to put wooden posts in the ground and attach the sign faces. For signs that are 4x8 or smaller, a channel can be routed in the post to make a slot for the sign face to sit in. A bottom and top cross bar can be used, and can also be routed to provide support on all 4 sides. This approach looks very finished and allows both sides of the sign face to be visible, so a graphic can be mounted on both sides of the same board for a more economical double sided sign. The down side to this approach is that in windy areas, it's possible for the sign face to flex enough to actually pop out of the routed channel, so for sizes over 4x4, it's best to either use an extra deep channel or a different mounting method.

For windy areas or larger signs, bolting the sign face to the posts is the best approach. Since the posts will block the back side of the sign face, you can't use this technique for double sided signs unless you put another set of sign faces on the opposite side of the posts, but it's the most secure method.

When selecting posts, 4x4 is the most common size, and the length should be sufficient to allow for 2-3 feet of the post to be in the ground and still be tall enough for the sign height you want. The taller and larger the sign, the further in the ground you should plant the posts for security. This also helps in windy areas. For a more finished looking sign, the posts can be painted a neutral color, or a matching color from your sign graphic.

This can be done, but it's difficult to get vinyl to stick securely over time to wood since it's not a smooth surface. Sanded, primed, and painted plywood or mdf works fairly well, and there are several products on the market that are either plywood or mdf with plastic or aluminum facing, but there are several reasons we don't like these options as well as Dibond or Alumalite. The main reason is that wood products are obviously not waterproof. Even primed and painted, wood products tend to absorb moisture and warp over time. This makes it even more difficult for vinyl to stick. If you look around and see warped signs or those where the vinyl is peeling off, they will most likely be mounted to wood. The products with plastic or metal faces have to be sealed on the edges to prevent the same thing. Without periodic maintenance, even a properly sealed sign will swell and warp. While the vinyl will tend to stay on because of the synthetic faces, the warping will still ruin the sign.

The other reason we don't like wood for sign faces is that it's very heavy. Alumalite is a fraction of the weight yet has the same strength as 1/2 inch plywood, can be handled by a single person, and is completely unaffected by weather. Since Alumalite is only about $20 more per 4x8 sheet than a plastic or aluminum faced wood product, you will see why we chose to just offer Alumalite and Dibond instead of wood based products.

If you already have a wood sign you want to use, we recommend wrapping it with a vinyl banner, similar to the way billboards are generally done. A vinyl banner is made slightly larger than the sign face with grommets all around the perimeter. The banner is then stretched over the face and attached to the wood sign face by either screws with washers through the grommets on the back side, or by the preferred method of using bungee cords stretched from grommet to grommet across the back side.

For short term use, the Economy Adhesive Vinyl on coroplast is the least expensive combination, which makes it ideal for this type of sign.

Premium Adhesive Vinyl with a cast vinyl laminate mounted on Alumalite or Dibond is the longest lasting and most durable combination that will provide trouble free use for 5 years or more.

Graphics laminated with Tedlar or something similar are the most graffiti proof available. We don't carry Tedlar on a regular basis since it's not necessary for most situations, but contact us if you need this level of graffiti protection. Keep in mind that Tedlar or any other laminate does not prevent graffiti, it just makes it possible to remove it without damaging the graphic.

Lamination protects the sign face from scratches and abrasion, and can extend the life of the sign with increased UV resistance. So, for the greatest durability and longest life, laminates are recommended.

 

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