History buffs know how important the Industrial Revolution was on America and the rest of the world. Manufacturing went through rapid and dramatic change.
IMPACT OF THE REVOLUTION
The impact was felt in practically every industry from oil refining to food processing. Sign fabrication and installation weren’t any different. We’ve seen our share of technological advancements in equipment; then and now.
Make no mistake, we still practice artisan techniques with respect to our trade and take great pride , especially when it comes to sign design and material selection, but much of our manufacturing process has truly been “revolutionized”.
No greater example of this is the use of the automated channel letter machine.
WHAT IS A CHANNEL LETTER?
A standard channel letter is a 3 dimensional graphic sign element, we build and install tons of them every year for businesses in southeast Wisconsin. Drive down a busy street in any metropolitan area and you’ll see them just about everywhere. The channel is fabricated from sheet metal, usually aluminum since it won’t 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 strip of aluminum sheet around the aluminum back. This return can be welded 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 lighting components such as neon gas tubes (one of my favorites) or light-emitting diodes (LED’s). The final stages include the translucent plastic face and a border to give the letter a neat, finished appearance. Illumination at night time really catches the eye.
ADVANTAGES OF CHANNEL LETTER MACHINES
Today’s market requires us to be forward thinkers and to be innovative with new processes and technology to be competitive. Labor laws, safety regulations, capacity constraints and delivery schedule increases all have contributing factors in the decision of moving to automation style manufacturing. We live in a world of fast pace, wanting it now or we get it elsewhere, type environment.
The advantages of channel letter machines address many of these factors.
This video is a peek behind the scenes of this equipment in action.