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当前位置:首页 > 杂志 > 2018年4月杂志——点亮霓虹灯标识 将创意变为现实

2018年4月杂志——点亮霓虹灯标识 将创意变为现实


Many sign people new to the industry associate electric signs with digital message boards or LED-lit boxes. Maybe some remember from childhood that there was something called “neon,” and not only to create “retro” designs. But many customers who want a unique sign today often ask a shop, “Can you do that in neon?” So, here I will explain some basics you should know – and some necessary steps for working with neon.


In short, a neon sign consists of one or more neon tubes and additional elements (structural and electrical). Every neon tube is a custom, hand-made electric lamp with particular properties, fabricated in a special neon glass shop (most sign companies now outsource glasswork to specialized shops).


Neon tubes are essentially linear light sources (in contrast to the point light of LED) made out of glass tubing, the only material capable of with-standing the operating conditions inside. The glass tube can be bent into almost any shape. As with every electric lamp, it requires two electrical connections – electrodes – to become part of a closed electrical circuit. The electrodes are not luminous and fill roughly 1-2 in. at the ends, but the glass tube can be bent in a way that these electrodes are practically invisible.



Neon tubes can be made to light in one of many colors; the final color (or spectrum) of the emitted light is created by the combination of the gas fill, eventually a fluorescent coating on the inside of the glass tube and maybe the use of colored glass acting as light filter. Every ionized gas lights in a characteristic color. Pure neon gas emits a reddish light, while fluorescent coatings on the inside of the glass tube and colored glass or different gases create other colors. Some (red, blue and pinkish-white) can be made in clear glass so that the tube is practically invisible when not in operation – an advantage for some designs (such as the window-hanging sign shown above).


As the electrical current flows through the gas inside the glass tube – always embarking on the shortest path – the glass tube between the two electrodes must remain a single, continuous path for the current, without forks or dead-end sidearms. Thus, while a block character “L” is simple, an “O” cannot be closed and must be made like a “C” with adjacent ends and a small gap.



To execute a more-complicated “E” in a single piece, the tube starts with the bottom line, then the first half of the vertical stroke, then into the center horizontal line up to the end. There, the tube is bent back 180° exactly behind the center line – and thus invisible up to the point where the vertical stroke turns and continues to the top. Finally, the tube is bent back to the front and continues as the vertical, upper part before terminating to the right, as in the illustration above.


Also, with smaller size text (up to 8 in. high) it is common not to make each character a separate tube, but to connect the characters (as in hand-written script). However, to make the interconnections invisible, they are painted black and called “blocked-out sections.”


Normally, the exact tube layout is created with the neon glass shop so that the glass shop will know the total stretched length of the neon tube. From the length and number of tubes, the electrical parts required are dimensioned; the size, weight and placement determine the structural design of the sign’s body.


As neon tubes are unique, the power supply must be matched to the tube – “one size fits all” does not apply here. The tube length, diameter (the smaller, the more restricted the electrical flow) and the type of filling gas (depending on the color) are the parameters necessary to calculate the correct power supply. Neon power supplies can be “core and coil” transformers or electronic power supplies.



In contrast to LEDs, which work at a low voltage (commonly 12 or 24 V) and high currents of several amperes of direct current, neon tubes operate at higher voltages (a blue, 4-ft.-long tube of 15mm diameter takes 742 V to light) and lower amounts of alternating current (a standard operating current for neon is 0.025 amps only).

与在低电压(通常为12或24V)和高达几安培的直流电的情况下工作的LED相比,霓虹灯则是在更高的电压(长约4英尺的15mm直径蓝色玻璃管需要742 V的电压点亮)和较低的交流电(霓虹灯的标准工作电流仅为0.025安培)的情况下工作。