We work from a given design or make a design ourselves.
A full size ‘glass’ drawing is created from the artwork. This is always made in reverse, so that when the sign is made, the parts that need to be hidden are at the back.
A straight piece of glass tubing is measured against the drawing, and marked in the places where it needs to be bent. The glass usually comes in lengths of 1.5 m, and diameters ranging from 8 mm to 25 mm.
The straight piece of glass tubing is heated in a flame. Depending on the color of the sign, either clear glass, powder coated glass, or colored glass is used.
Keeping the glass in the hot flame, the glass is bent into the required shape.
Once the required shape has been made, it is put into a cooler flame to help the glass cool down quickly.
The bent glass is continually matched against the drawing to ensure that the design is replicated.
Sometimes, if there are lots of letters, these may be made individually, and then joined together to make one piece or section. This is done by heating the glass up on both sections and fusing them together.
Electrodes are put onto both ends of each section of glass.
Air is removed from the glass sections by a vacuum pump, and then the tube is subjected to high voltage electricity, making the tubes and the electrodes get very hot.
The sections of glass are then pumped with either neon or argon gas, depending on the final color of the sign. The majority of colors use argon gas, with red being the main color that uses neon gas.
The pumped sections of glass are then connected to a transformer. This is for the process of ‘ageing in’, to ensure that the gases have burnt in enough.
Parts of the glass section are then painted with block out paint so that light does not shine through these parts. These are generally the backs of the letters, and the spaces between the letters (if it is not joined up style writing).
The neon then needs to be assembled. We usually do this into an acrylic case, or onto an acrylic panel. Tube supports, a transformer, silicone end covers and HT cable are used in the assembly process.
The transformer is fixed onto the backing panel or inside the acrylic case.
Tube supports are fixed onto the backing panel to hold the neon in place.
The separate sections of glass tubing are wired together to make a circuit.
The bare wires are covered by silicone end covers, and the cables from the glass sections are then wired up to the transformer, to complete the circuit.
Final adjustments are made to the alignment of the sign, and the final look.
The finished sign is switched on! As can be seen from this sequence, neon signs are totally hand made, by a skilled craftsman.