Making of neon signs
As is known to many, neon signs are nothing more than some colorful display made of gas-filled glass tubes and bent into the shape of letters or decorative designs of one’s choice. If a high-voltage electrical current is passed through the gas, the tubes emit glow and brightens the place. Several different types of gases are used in neon tubes. Neon signs have become tremendously popular ranging from a small advertising sign to massive displays outside huge shopping complexes – particularly bars, restaurants and casinos. Although neon gas was originally used in neon signs, today usage of neon gas is restricted to producing reds and orange hues only. The latest process involves using either argon, or an argon-neon mixture, for making neon signs. To increase the intensity of the light or to produce a concentrated blue light, some people add a small amount of mercury to argon and the effect is truly brilliant. Experts suggest that optical tints in various colors may also be used and Xenon, krypton, and helium gases can be used for special color effects.
The glass tubing used in neon signs is made of soft lead glass, so that it is capable of bending easily for making different designs. The electrodes used in each end of a section of illuminated tubing are made of virgin iron surrounded by a cylindrical glass jacket with one end open. A wire is then attached to the metal electrode and made to pass through the closed end of the glass jacket. The closed end is sealed into the end of the sign tubing while the open end is left protruding into the tube. High voltage electricity required to power the neon sign comes from a transformer, which converts the 120 volts from the electrical lines to as much as 15,000 volts for the sign... The wire is connected to the transformer through an insulated housing made of borosilicate glass with a spring connection on one end. The transformer and wires needed for neon signs are available in the market. Manufacturing neon sign is both an art and a technical process. Imaginative designing is necessary to make each sign unique and look different and to suit the desired display. Neon signs must be made to exact size keeping in mind the available installation space. Manufacturing neon signs, simply stated, consists of bending the tubing and attaching the electrodes, removing any impurities from within the tubing, then evacuating the air and adding the gas. High quality raw materials and meticulous manufacturing processes are required to produce a colorful and truly appealing neon sign. Please note that all neon signs must meet the requirements of the Underwriters Laboratories to obtain a UL listing. They will be required to undergo a series of tests by independent testing agencies. Neon signs must also meet the requirements of the National Electrical Code and outdoor signs must particularly comply with local building codes in their construction and wiring. The latest neon sign designs include small, electronic transformers that eliminate the annoying audible hum of older designs. Neon signs that blink or neon signs that deceptively appear to move are regulated through programmable electronic controls.