If you’ve lived in Springfield for any amount of time, you’ve probably seen at least one neon sign or two in town. Bars and restaurants have them as main parts of their signage or near the front door. Many establishments proclaim they’re “open” with a red or blue sign. In today’s blog from Springfield Sign, we explain how neon signs are made.
Neon sign manufacturers rely on soft lead glass tubes for construction. Soft lead glass is easily bendable into various shapes. The diameter of the glass ranges from 0.3 to 1 inch in diameter, while the length of each tube runs 4 to 5 feet. At each end of the tube is an electrode that supplies an electrical charge to the gas inside.
Special machines blow the glass to just the right thickness for neon signs. The glass dries and cools. Then, small burners heat up certain sections of the glass so workers can bend it to form letters, shapes, and numbers. Manufacturers finish this process by bombarding the tubes with electricity and heat to remove any impurities from the glass.
Specialized vacuums remove all air from the inside of the tube after it’s in the final shape. Then the electrodes are attached. Inert gas is then pumped into the tube. Despite the name, neon signs don’t always have neon in them. Neon is only used to produce red and orange colors. Argon and a neon-argon mixture is also used. The intensity of the light color changes based on small amounts of mercury added to the gas mixture, which is particularly true of blue lights. Zenon, krypton, and helium all create special effects. Glass tubes can also be coated to make various colors.
The electrodes on either end of a glass tube on a neon side produce the electrical current that makes the inert gases glow. Typical currents range from 30 to 60 mA (milliamps), meaning it doesn’t take a lot of electricity to light a neon sign.
Neon signs need anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours to age. This is when manufacturers run the lights to get the right glow. If there are any problems, such as flickering, the manufacturer takes off the electrodes and removes more impurities through bombardment.
Finally, it’s time to install a neon sign. The glass is mounted on a metal frame and wired. Any parts of the tube that don’t need the light to shine through are covered in an opaque material.
Neon lights typically last around 30,000 hours of operation, or about 1,250 days (3.5 years) if the light stays on all the time. The less someone uses a neon sign, the longer it lasts.
Neon Signs From Springfield Sign
Springfield Sign is your full-service sign design firm based in Springfield, Missouri. We can craft and design the perfect sign to elevate your brand, including neon signs. Contact Springfield Sign or call toll-free 1-800-845-9927 for more information.