How Are Channel Letter Signs Manufactured?

How Are Channel Letter Signs Manufactured?
Published in Tupp Signs | 7 months ago

We’ve all seen channel letter signs on the larger businesses in town. You may wonder how channel letter signs are manufactured!

We’ve all seen channel letter signs on the larger businesses in town. You may wonder how channel letter signs are manufactured. These are the signs that are made of individual letter signs, offering one of the biggest and boldest ways to cement your brand in the minds of everyone around. Even though these signs use more electricity than most, their popularity remains undiminished. This is the case because that which is effective tends to persist, while that which is ineffective tends to die off. In spite of the electricity costs, effectiveness is always the king.

In this article, let’s take a closer look at the ways in which channel letter signs are manufactured. Their ability to be mass-produced is one of their major upsides, so this subject deserves a closer look.

The Manufactured Materials For Channel Letter Signs

The main “box” of the channel letter is known as a “cabinet” in the industry. Inside this box, you will find a light bulb of some kind. This bulb, when lit, illuminates the front of the channel letter very nicely. When combined, these materials create a perfect package that attracts both attention and business.

How The Cabinet Is Manufactured For Channel Letter Signs

The cabinet is most often made of aluminum, which is a much better choice than steel. Even if it is thickly coated, steel will rust before long. This means that you will have to do one of two things: Replace the sign or remove the rust. As rust removal is not exactly easy (even under the best of circumstances), it’s far better to avoid the old-fashioned steel cabinets.

It should be noted that some modern cabinets are made of plastics, which can be a great option for some. Although these plastic cabinets do not have the same level of durability as a metal box, they are much more resistant to water damage than any metal could ever match. They are easier to break, and their lighter weight makes them more vulnerable to wind damage, but their lower cost and long lifespan could make them worth getting.

Cabinets are usually shaped from sheet aluminum using heavy-duty industrial equipment. The raw material is cut to shape using a high-powered router. After that, a CNC machine bends and folds the pre-formed sheet into the desired shape. While you could shape this metal by hand, it would be a lot more time-consuming and, thus, more costly. Still, high-precision jobs might require hand shaping from time to time.

How The Lighting Is Manufactured

As a general rule, channel letter signs are lit with large LED bulbs. Alternately, they might also be lit with a series of small LED bulbs. The old channel letters were made with halogen lights or neon, but these materials are no longer practical. LED bulbs can achieve the same level of lighting with a fraction of the cost and none of the associated risks. You should make sure that your channel letters are LED models so that you don’t end up with a massive electric bill.

When a channel letter sign is being fabricated, it is necessary to consider the lighting and how it will work. For instance, if you want a sign that is lit from the front, you will need to fabricate your letters without internal lighting. This cuts down on the complexity involved. If you want a sign that is lit from the back, you will need to leave some open space behind the letters to accommodate that effect.

How The Front Panel Is Manufactured

The front panel of the channel letter is arguably the most simple component. However, some might say it’s the most important because it is the face of the letter sign, in both a literal and figurative sense. This front panel is made of a semi-transparent material like vinyl, acrylic, or polycarbonate. These panels are usually colored with a dye so that their inner lighting is converted to that color. Since colored lightbulbs are always more expensive, it’s good that channel letter signs have not incorporated them.

The Mounting Process: Final Stages In Manufacturing

In the final stages of how channel letter signs are manufactured, once the channel letters have been shaped, they need to be mounted in place. You have more than one option here, but all of the available methods will fall into one of two categories: Direct mount or raceway mount.

When you go with direct mounting, the channel letters will be mounted directly to the side of your building. In this way, they will look as if they are a part of the structure. Unfortunately, there are some jurisdictions that have banned direct mounting of channel letter signs. Their reasons relate to fire safety, but there is no need to debate if this is valid or not. For better or worse, you have to work within the existing structure of the law.

Raceway-mounted signs are a little different. Instead of being mounted directly to the side of the building, these letters are affixed to a large metal box. This box doubles as a container for the wiring and control components. Although the box itself is not hidden, its contents are kept out of sight and out of mind.

As with construction, you have to think about lighting effects when mounting your channel letters. If you are using back-lighting, make sure there is a sizable gap between your letters and the wall/control box. When you are using internal lighting, this will not be an issue. If you choose to go with front-lighting, you will obviously have to mount the light fixtures in place correctly.


Channel letter signs have many complex nuances, and not every sign company can hope to get them right. That’s why you shouldn’t waste time with other companies when it comes to how channel letter signs are manufactured. Tupp Signs can give you the results you need and manufactured at a price you can afford, and we can do it every time. We don’t want any of our customers to walk away unsatisfied, and that’s why we give every job the utmost care. If you would like to know more, please fill out the contact form below or call 1-866-324-7446 to speak with one of our trusted experts.