Custom Neon Signs

Neon tube signs are produced by the craft of bending glass tubing into shapes. A worker skilled in this craft is known as a glass bender, neon or tube bender. The neon tube is made out of 3-4 foot (1 meter) straight “sticks” of glass tubing. Creating neon signs is a cottage industry and an eclectic art. At Ortwein we’ve been creating neon signs for decades. Contact us and let’s talk about creating a custom neon sign for your business!

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200 Years of Neon

The neon sign is an evolution of the earlier Geissler tube, which is an electrified glass tube containing a “rarefied” gas (the gas pressure in the tube is well below atmospheric pressure). When a voltage is applied to electrodes inserted through the glass, an electrical “glow discharge” results. Geissler tubes were quite popular in the late 1800s, and the different colors they emitted were characteristics of the gases within. They were, however, unsuitable for general lighting; the pressure of the gas inside typically declined in use. The direct predecessor of neon tube lighting was the Moore tube, which used nitrogen or carbon dioxide as the luminous gas and a patented mechanism for maintaining pressure; Moore tubes were sold for commercial lighting for a number of years in the early 1900s.

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How Neon Signs are Made

Neon Signs have been around since the early 1900’s, but most people don’t know how they are made. Neon restaurant signs and neon bar signs have been helping business advertise for almost a century.Neon signs are most prevalent in restaurants and bars, but they have many other uses.

Neon signs are made up of glass tubes. These tubes are either mass-produced or hand blown by a master glass blower. The glass tubes have to be heated up and skillfully twisted and curved into various shapes or desired molds. They are then made into a vacuum and two electrodes are placed inside on opposite ends of each other. Next, one of five different gasses is filled into the vacuumed tube that is then sealed. When an electric current passes through the electrodes, the gas illuminates and light is emitted.

The Five Gasses

The different uses of the five gasses: Neon, Argon, Helium, Xeon, Krypton determine the color of the tube. For example, if the desired color is blue then Xeon would be used, but if instead red was the desired color then Neon would be needed.

Color Decision

When deciding on the color of a neon sign, it is important to think about the use of the sign. Determining whether or not the sign will be outdoors is crucial, because most of the gasses used in neon signs will not work properly when it is cold. Out of the five types of gasses Neon is the most durable. Have you ever wondered why businesses mostly have red neon signs outside? Well it is because they are the strongest against change in temperature.


Ortwein Neon

Ortwein Signs have been constructing neon signs for over 90 years. It is because Ortwein’s expansive knowledge that they are able to repair signs as well as craft them. Neon sign repair costs can be pricy, but Ortwein’s restoration and maintenance team makes sure to give a fair estimate. Give us a call at 1-866-867-9208 to find out how we can help you create or restore your neon sign!