Sign & Digital Graphics

January '17

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ELECTRIC SIGNAGE LED backlighting is the light engine that powers the illuminated sign industry. Looking Back According to the American Sign Museum, the first backlit sign dates back to the 1840s with a gas-lit sign on the P.T. Barnum museum. With the advent of the incandescent light bulb—Edison filed his patent for a carbon-filament electric lamp in 1879, but commercialization had no traction until the turn of the century. By then a good number of merchants were using illuminated signage to draw attention to consumers. In fact it was 1900 when the first electric sign company (Federal Electric Company in Chicago) was formed and began offering the first commercially available illuminated signs. The electric sign industry was born. At the time, however, most electric signs were not backlit but typically con- sisted of a porcelain enamel with the copy or message surrounded by Edison bulbs along the outer edge of the sign. At the turn of the century, neon was developed, followed by the fluorescent lamp in the 1930s. However, it really was not until the development of plas- tics after World War II that backlit sig- nage began to mature. Plastic faced signs were easier to manufacture and required less skill to produce than hand-blown formed neon. J. Bryan Vincent is an expert in the field of solid state lighting and electronic materials. He has dedicated the past 10 years to developing LED solutions specific to the sign industry and is a partner at Principal LED. He has a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Chemistry/ Materials Science. 20 • January 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S LED Backlighting Strategies L E D I N S I G H T S The LED light- engine that powers the sign industry shines brightly B Y J . B R Y A N V I N C E N T , P H . D . Lattice2G (L2G) is Bitro's latest version of the original Lattice for illuminated sign cabinets. (Image courtesy of Bitro Group)

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