How to make custom neon signs? The easy guide for sign store owners.
If you own a neon sign store, you know that getting custom orders right is key to remaining competitive in the ever-evolving world of signage. Nothing boosts your reputation better than providing clients exactly what they want and over delivering! Customizing neon signs can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Read on to learn more about the way you can create unique designs that will set your business apart from any competition! In this blog post, we’ll explore how to make custom neon signs for your customers by following some simple steps.
How to make custom neon signs with glass tubes?
A glass neon sign is a type of neon signage that uses neon gas or other noble gasses to create a glowing effect. It consists of a series of glass tubes that are bent into the desired shape of the sign and sealed at the ends. The tubes are then filled with a small amount of neon gas or other noble gas, such as argon or krypton. When you put an electrical current into the tubes, the gas becomes excited and emits light, creating a bright, glowing effect.
Let’s see how to create a glass neon sign!
How Bespoke Neon Lights Are Made
Step 1: Having a detailed design sketch
Before you start creating your neon sign, it’s essential to have a clear and detailed design sketch. This design sketch will serve as a guide for the rest of the process and help ensure that your sign turns out precisely as you envision it. Consider the size, shape, and color of your sign and any lettering or graphics you want to include. It’s also a great idea to have a rough estimate of the materials and tools you will need.
Having a detailed design sketch is crucial because it allows you to plan out the entire process and make any necessary adjustments before you start working with the materials. This step can save you time and money in the long run, as it reduces the risk of mistakes and allows you to budget accurately for the project.
You can use a pencil and paper or a computer program like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop to create a detailed design sketch. If you’re uncomfortable with drawing or designing, you can hire a professional designer to create a sketch. Just be sure to communicate your vision and desired outcome clearly to ensure you get the desired result.
Step 2: Preparing the glass tubes and other materials
Once you have your design sketch, it’s time to gather the materials you will need. This step includes clear glass tubes of various sizes, depending on the design of your sign.
When selecting the glass tubes for your neon sign, choosing the right size and shape for your design is essential. The tubes should be slightly larger than the design, as they will be bent and shaped to fit. Different types of glass have varying levels of resilience, and neon lights are typically made using soft lead glass tubes that measure 4–8 ft in length. The producer can use borosilicate glass in some cases because it can tolerate heat well.
To make custom glass neon signs, you must prepare the glass tubes by cleaning them to ensure clarity. The tubes are then briefly dried in a kiln to remove any moisture or debris.
Depending on the desired effect, the tubes may also be coated with a phosphor coating or tinted with color. The phosphor coating is applied to the dry-cleaned glass tubes and then dried in a kiln in a vertical position. Some manufacturers may also tint the glass tubing with color at this point. Not all neon lighting glass tubes are coated or tinted, as it is a technique producers mostly use to create a glowing effect or produce attractive neon light colors.
You will also need a gas torch, a pair of gas safety goggles, electrodes, and a power supply. Other materials that you may need include a backboard, mounting hardware, and a dimmer switch if you want to change the brightness of your sign.
It’s a good idea to gather all of your materials before you start the project, as this will save you time and reduce the risk of delays. Make sure to have enough supplies to complete the entire project, as running out of materials halfway through can be frustrating and costly.
Step 3: Bending the tubing
Next, you will need to bend the glass tubes into the shape of your design. Producers can draw the design of the neon sign in full size on a sheet of heat-resistant asbestos. To shape the glass tubing, it is carefully heated and softened using various burners, such as gas-fired ribbon burners or hand torches. Alternatively, you can use a bending machine, which applies heat to the tubes to make them pliable.
The tubing is bent by hand, following the asbestos template as a guide. Tube benders usually do not wear gloves because they need to feel the heat transfer and the degree of softening in the glass to determine when to bend it. To prevent the softened tubing from collapsing, a flexible hose called a blow hose is attached to one end and the tube bender gently blows into it to restore the tubing to its original diameter. It is vital to have the correct diameter for the tubing to function correctly. Producers mostly make large neon signs from multiple sections of glass tubing, which are spliced together by heating and joining the ends of two lengths of tubing.
Bending the tubes determines the overall shape and appearance of the sign. It’s important to be precise and follow your design sketch closely to ensure that the tubes are bent correctly. Be sure to wear your gas safety goggles and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid any accidents or injuries.
Step 4: Placing the electrode
Once the tubes are bent into the desired shape, it’s time to attach the electrodes. These are small metal plates that are placed at either end of the tubes and are used to create an electrical current. To attach the electrodes, you will need to heat the end of the tube and carefully press the electrode into place. To evacuate the tubing with a vacuum pumping in the next step, a small port called a tubulation is added. This port may be part of one of the electrodes or may be a separate piece attached to the tubing.
Placing the electrodes determines the overall functionality of the sign. The electrodes need to be securely attached to the tubes in order to create an electrical current and produce the neon light effect. It’s important to be precise and follow proper safety guidelines when attaching the electrodes, as any mistakes can result in damage to the tubes or even injury.
Step 5: Bombarding the glass tubes
To make sure the glass, phosphors, and electrodes are impurity-free a process called bombarding is used. A vacuum pump evacuates all of the air from inside the tubing until it reaches 0.02 to 0.04 inches (0.5–1 mm) of mercury, depending on its length. The longer pipe needed lower pressure due to physics.
A very high current transformer then connects with special metal electrodes/conductors allowing 400–750 milliamperes through each tube instead of 30 usually seen during operation. This heats up both materials drastically: Glass reaching 420°F(216°C) & electrode 1400°F(760 C). The heat forces any impurities out. The vacuum pump then takes them away.
Bombarding the glass tubes determines the overall brightness and intensity of the neon light. It’s important to carefully adjust the power supply and test the neon light to ensure that it is as bright and consistent as possible. If the neon light is too dim or uneven, it may be necessary to adjust the power supply or the electrodes to achieve the desired effect.
Step 6: Adding the noble gas
Once the electrical discharge has been created, it’s time to add the noble gas. This type of gas is used to create the neon light effect. Impurities in the gas must be removed for the sign to function effectively and last a long time.
There are several different types of noble gasses that can be used, including neon, argon, and xenon. Neon, the most common and least priced, generates red-orange colors. Helium produces pink to red colors, whereas Xenon and Krypton produce lavender and yellow-green hues, respectively. Finally, argon is employed in the production of blue neon signs. However, its illumination is rather dim, thus it is tinted with mercury to improve the brilliance of its light.
The usual fill pressure for a 0.6 inch (15 mm) diameter tube is around 0.5 inch (12 mm) of mercury. The tubulation port is then sealed up and heated.
Step 7: Aging the tube
The goal is for the gas in the tube to stabilize and function correctly. A transformer is connected to the electrodes, which is usually rated somewhat higher than the average working current. If neon is used, the tube should reach full light in 15 minutes. For argon, it may take many hours. If there is a flicker in the gas or a hot patch on the tube, the tubing must be opened and the blasting and filling operations must be repeated.
Step 8: Adding optional elements (backboard, dimmer, etc)
It’s time to add any optional elements to your neon sign. This could include a backboard to mount the tubes on, a dimmer switch to adjust the brightness, or any other desired features.
Adding optional elements to your neon sign can enhance its overall appearance and functionality. A backboard, for example, can provide a stable and attractive mounting surface for the tubes, while a dimmer switch can allow you to change the brightness of the neon light to suit your needs. Be sure to carefully consider which optional elements you want to include and how they will fit into your design.
Step 9: Testing quality
Before installing and mounting your neon sign, it’s important to test the quality and ensure that it is functioning properly. This involves turning on the power supply and checking that the neon light is consistent and bright. You should also check that the electrodes are securely attached and that there are no cracks or damages to the tubes.
A faulty neon sign can be dangerous and can also damage your reputation. Be sure to thoroughly test your neon sign before installing it to ensure that it is functioning properly.
Learn more: Are neon signs dangerous? How to handle them safely & avert accidents?
Step 10: Installation and mounting
Finally, it’s time to install and mount your neon sign. This involves attaching the sign to a backboard or other mounting surface, connecting the power supply, and turning on the neon light. Be sure to follow proper safety guidelines and use the appropriate mounting hardware for your specific sign.
Small neon signs are connected and put on their framework at the shop. Larger signs can be placed in sections and installed on a building or other support structure where they are linked and wired. Large installations may take months to complete.
How to make custom LED Flex neon signs?
A LED Flex neon sign is a type of signage that uses LED (light-emitting diode) technology to create a neon-like effect. It consists of a strip of flexible LED lights that are mounted on a clear acrylic backboard. The LED lights are available in a range of colors and brightness levels, and can be cut to fit the desired shape and size of the sign.
Below is the guide to making a LED Flex neon sign:
How To Make a Custom Neon LED Sign!
Step 1: Having a detailed template or graphic design
Before you start making a custom LED Flex neon sign, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want the final product to look like. This means having a detailed template or graphic design that outlines the shape, size, and layout of the sign. This can be created using a design software such as Adobe Illustrator or by drawing it by hand. Having a clear and well-thought-out design will make it easier to create a high-quality neon sign that meets your expectations.
Step 2: Gathering LED Flex light and other materials
The next step in creating a custom LED Flex neon sign is to gather all of the necessary materials. This includes LED Flex light, an acrylic backboard, a CNC machine, wires, and any optional elements such as a dimmer switch. It’s important to choose the right type of LED light for your design, as different colors and brightness levels are available. Be sure to gather all of the materials before starting the project to avoid delays.
Step 3: Cutting the acrylic backboard with a CNC machine
Once you have all of the necessary materials, the next step is to cut the acrylic backboard to fit the shape and size of your design. This can be done using a CNC machine, which is a computer-controlled tool that can cut precise shapes and patterns into the backboard. Be sure to carefully follow your template or design to ensure that the backboard is cut accurately.
Step 4: Cutting the LED light strip to fit the acrylic backboard
Once the acrylic backboard is cut, the next step is to cut the LED light strip to fit the backboard. This involves measuring the length of the backboard and then cutting the light strip to the appropriate size. It’s important to be precise when cutting the light strip, as any discrepancies can affect the overall appearance and functionality of the sign.
Step 5: Soldering wires to the ends of the light strip
After the light strip is cut to size, the next step is to attach wires to the ends of the strip. This involves soldering the wires to the light strip, which will allow you to connect it to the power supply and control the brightness and color of the neon light. Be sure to follow proper soldering techniques to ensure a strong and secure connection.
Step 6: Gluing or tieing the led flex light strip in place
Once the wires are attached to the light strip, the next step is to secure the strip to the acrylic backboard. This can be done using glue or by tying the strip in place using zip ties. It’s important to carefully position the light strip according to your template or design, as any misalignment can affect the overall appearance of the neon sign.
Step 7: Adding optional elements (dimmer, color-changing switch, etc.)
If you want to include any optional elements in your neon sign, such as a dimmer or color-changing switch, this is the time to do it. Depending on the kind of element you are adding, the installation process may vary. Be sure to follow the instructions for any optional elements to ensure that they are properly installed.
Step 8: Connecting the power supply and testing
Once all of the elements of the neon sign are in place, the final step is to connect the power supply and test the sign. This involves attaching the power supply to the light strip and turning it on to see if the neon light is functioning properly. Be sure to test the sign in different lighting conditions and at different brightness levels to ensure that it is working as expected.
Why is it so critical to let customers customize their neon signs?
Allowing customers to customize their neon signs is critical for several reasons. Firstly, it allows customers to create a sign that is unique and personalized to their individual tastes and needs. This can be especially important for businesses that want to create a distinct brand identity or for individuals who want to create a sign that reflects their personal style. Additionally, customization allows customers to tailor their neon sign to the specific dimensions, materials, pricing, and requirements of their location, ensuring that the sign fits perfectly and looks its best.
If you are a Shopify neon sign store owner looking to let customers customize their neon signs, our “Neon Sign Product Customizer” app is an excellent solution. This tool allows your customers to easily design and customize their own neon signs on your Shopify store in real time.
Customers can choose various colors, fonts, materials, and other optional elements to create a unique and personalized neon sign that meets their specific needs and preferences. The software also lets customers preview their custom neon sign’s price before purchasing. This ability helps to ensure that customers are satisfied with their final product and reduces the risk of returns or exchanges. You can readily download and install our app on the Shopify App Store.
Sounds great! Let’s view the demo.
Making custom neon signs is a process that requires careful planning and execution. Sign store owners who take the time to understand how to make custom neon signs will be able to provide their customers with high-quality products that they will love. Following the easy steps outlined in this article, you can also make stunning custom neon signs that your customers will adore. Thanks for reading our guide about how to make lighted signs! Be sure to share this article if you found it helpful, and subscribe for more content like this in the future.