Sign & Digital Graphics

May '18

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26 • May 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ELECTRIC SIGNAGE and the machines will bend the bottom 0.5 inch at a 90 degree angle to form a flange for attaching to the back of the letter return," says Ondracek. The Letter Back When the flange and return have been completed, it's time to assemble the rest of the letter. "The letter backs are attached by using either clinching, rivets, staples, or welding," states Ondracek. "Good quality channel letters are typically made with .063-inch aluminum backs," says Sciortino. "They are also mechanically fastened to the flange of the return with aluminum rivets and a high- pressure clinch machine." He emphasizes that attaching the backs mechanically is the preferred method. "Some letters are stapled together, but this would be in the lower-quality category," Sciortino adds. "Quality let- ters are then caulked inside the letter for weatherproofing, with siliconized caulk, which has much better adhesion com- ponents than just 'painters caulk.' The LEDs are then installed inside the letter with the provided double-stick tape." It's important to secure the LEDs pro- fessionally so that there is no chance of unintended movement. "Proper LED installation does not stop there though," Sciortino continues. "Companies performing good work will insure their LED install with 100 per- cent silicone to provide extra hold to the module. This is essential to make sure the modules don't fall off the lettetr back due to extreme temperature changes, which causes a poorly lighted product if the LED releases itself from the back of the letter." The Letter Face Like the letter back, the face is nec- essary to close the opposite side of the letter. This is the element that allows the light to diffuse into an even illumination. "When making a plastic face channel letter this process has come a long way," recounts Kane. "When I first started, we cut the backs by hand. Then we would The Ace-Bend machine from Computerized Cutters. Channel letter returns have traditionally been sized to 5" but can be made smaller depending on the lighting component. (Images courtesy of Letter Fab LLC) This image of a com- pleted channel letter, seen from behind, shows how the return has been flanged and notched, and where the places where the clinch rivets fasten to the letter back. (Image courtesy of Direct Sign Warehouse) Automated processes allow sign makers to bend, flange and notch letters faster and more accurately than hand-cut pro- cesses. Flange Clinch Notch

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