Exploring the Neon Signs Making Process

Making neon signs
Making neon signs
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNT2vCiQACo

How are neon signs made? The neon signs making process is as intriguing as it is fascinating. It requires the skilled hands of the glass bender and, often times, a designer to create the perfect shape and color combination. For an overview of what goes on inside the factory of today’s neon sign maker, we’ll look at the steps both glass tube and LED neon signs.

Neon Signs Meaning

First things first: what do neon signs mean and why are they special? A neon sign is a thin glass tube that’s been bent, cut, and sealed to form a certain shape. It’s then filled with neon or other inert gas. When electrified, the gas in the tube emits light. Today, LED neon signs that mimic the look of traditional neon gas signs are also popular.

Neon sign design represents a unique form of art that has been popular since its inception in the 1900s. People often associate them with fun, entertainment, or even nostalgia. Most often, people use them to advertise events and businesses. In homes, these signs can be accents that express personal style.

Making neon signs
Making neon signs
Resource: https://youtu.be/0xFAqVMBj7o

How are Neon Signs Made?

The steps for making neon signs are different for glass tube and LED based signs. Taking several factors into account, different materials and equipment or manufacturing techniques may also be used. These are discussed below.

Designing Neon Signs

Neon sign design means coming up with the look and feel of the sign. This involves drafting out the design by hand or with a computer program. Once the design has been finalized, it needs to be taken from the drawing board and made into a tangible sign.

Professional neon sign manufacturers normally use computer software to create the sign’s design. This offers several advantages, such size flexibility and ability to recreate the design with ease if needed.

Neon Sign Fonts

Neon signs often feature eye-catching fonts that reflect the style and brand of the business. To create these neon sign letters, a graphic artist must first draw out the design by hand or using computer software.

Neon sign fonts can be anything from classic styles such as script and cursive to more modern designs. Usually, these fonts are created to be bold and highly legible, making them easier for people to read when the sign is illuminated.

Neon Sign Materials

The types of neon sign materials depends on the type of sign, whether it is a glass tube or LED sign. For glass tube signs, the material that is used most often is lead glass. An inert gas such as neon or argon is also required. In some cases, mercury vapor and phosphor-coated glass are used.

For LED neon sign materials, LED light strips LEDs are small (light emitting diodes), and plastic or acrylic tubes are used. The plastic or acrylic tubes may be transparent, colored, or patterned. Apart from this, the materials used for both types of signs also include metal frames and mounts.

Neon Sign Making Equipment

Neon sign making is often a manual process, with only a few pieces of equipment required. For glass tube signage, burners are the main pieces of equipment used. These heat up glass tubing so that it can be bent or manipulated into the desired shape.

For LED neon signs, a CNC router is used to create the channels for the LED lights strips or tubing. These are engraved in a plastic material, usually acrylic. The CNC machine is a computer-controlled device that can be programmed to cut the sign’s pattern.

How to make LED neon signs
How to make LED neon signs
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0TcOiE8Ak

Neon Sign Making

Now, onto the actual process of creating neon signs or what happens when the sign’s design has been made and approved. Here, we’ll look at the separate procedures for both the classic glass tube sign and the newer LED based neon signs.

How to Make Glass Neon Signs

These are the classic signs of the past and still widely used today. They provide a nostalgic look and are often manufactured by hand. The materials and supplies needed include the following: glass tubes, metal frames, metal brackets, electrodes, transformers, and wires. Here is how to make glass neon signs.

Neon Sign Design

  • The sign’s pattern or design is first designed, either by hand or on a computer
  • This is then transferred to a heat resistant sheet to guide the tube bending process.

Neon Tube Bending

  • A glass tube is heated using burners, and at temperatures of between 1,800 and 2,000 degrees. This softens it for shaping.
  • To prevent the neon sign tube from collapsing during heating, air is blown into the tube into one end using a blowpipe, while the other end is sealed.
  • The heated tube is then positioned above the sign’s pattern and shaped as required.

Removing Air from Tube

  • After cooling, the tube is connected to a vacuum pump. This machine draws air, moisture, and dust.
  • The tube is then connected to what’s called a bombarding transformer that heats it up to around 450 degrees. This part of the neon signs making process aims to vaporize any impurities that may be present.

Neon sign Gas

  • After cooling, the tube is filled with an inert gas. Neon sign gas can be neon, argon, or any other kind of noble gas (or a combination of gases depending on the desired type of color).
  • The gas is introduced under low pressure and in varying amounts, depending on the sign properties.
  • Coated tubes may also be used. The ends of the tube are then sealed with heat, fusing an electrode to the glass.

Other tubes pass through a similar process. Next, the tubes are blocked out at the required places. This involves painting or dipping them in a special type of paint. The specific neon sign background is prepared, and the shaped tubes mounted in place. Finally, electrical wiring is connected to the transformer and tube electrodes.

How to Make Neon Signs with LED

In recent decades, solid-state lighting technology has taken neon sign making into a new era. The process of making LED neon signs is different to that of classic glass tube signs, given that it doesn’t involve any glass heating or the use of a transformer. It’s also way simpler

  • Just like traditional neon signs, the design and pattern for the LED neon sign is first created. This can be done by hand or with a computer.
  • The sign pattern is then cut from or into a black sheet, usually acrylic. This material offers many optical benefits when it comes to light transmission, which explains why LED acrylic neon signs are so popular.
  • The cutting may be done by hand. Most often, sign makers employ a CNC machine for accuracy and speed.
  • The LED strips are then mounted onto the acrylic sheet and connected to a controller. That’s where the colors of the lights can be adjusted depending on customer preferences.
  • The backing board is cut to size and
  • Finally, a power supply is connected to the LED strips or tubing. The sign is then tested


Neon signs making is unique process that requires technical skill, knowledge, and creativity. And even though glass and LED neon signs use different manufacturing techniques, the end result is a beautiful, eye-catching sign that will add an element of style to any space and convey your message. With the right design techniques, it’s possible to create a stunning sign that will showcase your business or show off your creative flair.

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