NEON SIGNAGE FOR INDOOR AND OUTDOOR COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL
How is neon produced?
The glass tubing that neon is made from comes in four foot sticks. The colour of the tube depends upon the elements added to the phospherous powder coated inside the tube. The glass is bent by heating it on specialized fires and matching the bends to a predetermined pattern. Once the tube has been formed to the appropriate shape, electrodes are welded to each end and the tube is ready to be pumped.
Pumping the tube involves removing all the air, cleaning the tube and injecting the appropriate amount of rare gas. The unit is attached to a special manifold through a small tube on one of the electrodes. A vacuum pump initially removes most of the air from the unit. A large transformer called a bombarder runs a high current (about 750mA) through the remaining air in the unit, heating it to a temperature of about 500 degrees F. This cleans any impurities from the unit and removes any remaining air. Once the unit has cooled down, a small amount of rare gas (neon or argon) is injected into the unit at a low pressure (from 5 to 15 microns). If the unit has argon gas, a small amount of mercury is also injected which helps to make the unit brighter. The unit is lit to see that there are no impurities and then the small joining tube is sealed off from the manifold. The neon tube is complete.
Why is neon used and why is it so popular?
Neon signage has always had a visual impact that has not been matched by even new technology. Although neon dates back to the 1920's, it has not changed in its use or the way it is made. Neon has always been considered the "Cadillac" of signs. Properly made, a neon tube can easily last 20 years and some signs from the 40's and 50's still operate as if they are new. Unfortunately, many modern sign shops do not adhere to good quality control measures and their signs lack durability.
Due to the long history of neon in Europe and North America, neon has become a part of American Culture. Moreover, neon lends itself as a unique art form which brings images from the past and from the future. It can be said that neon has a bright future.
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