Neon lights are used throughout the world in many different applications. They provide a wonderful way to promote a message or bring attention to a structure or event. They have also been used as an art form. Most of us see neon lights almost every day, but we may not be aware of how they are produced. We’ll discuss this in more detail.
Typical neon lights are produced by bending glass tubing into shapes that may represent letters, words or objects. The glass tubes used for this purpose are normally straight, hollow glass rods that are about 3 to 4′ in length. Different colored light is produced depending on the type of gas they are filled with and if the tube has a coating on the inside.
The tubes form desired shapes by heating them up to a led neon signs specified temperature with a burner. The burners may be a ribbon, cannon or crossfire type and there are different gas torches used for this purpose as well.
The tubes are heated and then bent to form desired shapes. The person creating the shape must be experienced and skilled in this type of work. Once heated, the bending must occur quickly since the glass will harden as it cools. If a mistake is made, the tubing should not normally be reheated since it becomes brittle and can break.
Once the tubing has been bent to the desired shape, it is filled with a purified gas mixture. The gas is ionized and emits a glow when electrodes welded on to the ends of the tubing are electrified with high voltage.
Although these products are known as neon lights, neon gas is only one of several kinds of gases used. Pure neon gas produces only about a third of the total colors possible with these kinds of lights. Other inert gases such as argon may be used as well to provide other colors. Special coatings inside of the glass tubing provide more flexibility in color choices and lighting intensity. The special tubing used to create these lights is also available in different color choices and intensities depending on their use.
Once the cathodes have been attached to one end of the tubing, the air inside of them is evacuated using a powerful vacuum pump. The tubing is then subjected to a high electrical charge to remove any remaining contaminants. At that point the neon gas is introduced to the tubing. Once filled, the other end of the tubing is sealed shut.