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Illuminated Channel Letters

For many years this type of advertisement has set companies apart and brought with it business. Restaurants, taverns, stores, even tanning salons are frequent purchasers of illuminated channel letters. Today, neon signs and LED channel letters are synonymous.

Custom channel letters are a 3-dimensional graphic sign element. Its channel is fabricated from sheet metal, most often aluminum since it will not rust. A flat sheet of aluminum is typically cut on a table by a computer-controlled router. This creates the back of the channel and is the basis for the letter shape.

The sides of the channel letter, called the “returns”, are then formed by bending a 3- to 6-inch-wide strip of aluminum sheet around the aluminum back.

This return can be welded at the seam or flanged and riveted to the back to create a solid “can” in the shape of the letter. The letter can is painted and fitted with any lighting components necessary such as neon gas tubes or light-emitting diode (LED) modules.

A translucent plastic face usually of 3/16″ thick sheet acrylic or polycarbonate is cut to fit the open face of the letter can. A trim cap border is applied to its edges which gives the letter face a finished appearance and creates a fastening surface to attach it to the letter can. When illuminated at night, custom channel letters draw the eye of passers-by.

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