A channel letter is a 3-dimensional graphic sign element. The channel is fabricated from sheet metal, typically aluminum, so it will not rust. To make the channel letters, 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.
The sides of the channel letter, called the “returns”, are 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 shape of the channel letter. The letter is then painted and fitted with any lighting component including neon gas tubes or LED/ light-emitting diode 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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