Our most popular products sold at DIY Sign Supply are our light box signs and our lighted box sign kits so I thought it would be helpful to describe exactly what they are, what comes with our full light box signs, and what comes with our DIY lightbox sign kits. So here you go, please feel free to Contact Us if you have any further questions or even give us a comment if we are missing information or if you disagree with our information!
Lightboxes and Materials they are Made Of
Let's start at the beginning with what a generic "lightbox" is. A lightbox is considered to be a translucent surface illuminated from behind, used for situations where a shape laid upon the surface needs to be seen with high contrast. Lightboxes are typically made in a rectangular or square shape, and they are built with lights behind the "translucent" surface, so most of the time each box is made with six (6) sides - the front face (with translucent surface) the back face, and then the four "sides" that typically serve to keep the light from exiting the sides and help to keep the front face the brightest, most noticable part of the sign. Most light boxes are "single faced" with only one translucent face but "double faced" light boxes are also made when the back face is also a translucent material. There are a few common materials used for the translucent face(s) - glass or plastic - (acrylic or polycarbonate). Some differences between acrylic and polycarbonate are that acrylic is less shinier and less expensive, but cracks more easily. Polycarbonate is stronger but tends to scratch more easily. Probably the simplest way to think about it is if the plastic is "protecting" something (i.e. used on a helmet or a windshied" and you don't want projectiles coming through it then you will want polycarbonate, if you are more worried about price and scratching then you will want acrylic. The "sides" of the lightbox typically give it the most strength and are opaque (don't let light through) so the most common type of materials that make up lightbox signs are metal - either sheet metal (steel) or extruded aluminum. When exterior lightboxes are needed to withstand weather, hoisting, etc... they will typically be made of aluminum as it is lighter, is stronger, and is more resistant to moisture.
For a long time the most common lights found in lightboxes were florescent tubes. They are inexpensive, long lasting, offer a great variety of color (Kelvin) temperatures, and were relatively inexpensive to operate compared in incandescent bulbs. They come in a variety of sizes and efficiencies including 1.2" diameter T12 (being phased out), 1" diameter T8 (very common), and 5/8" diameter T5. The larger the diameter typically means it is less expensive to purchase up front, but the smaller bulbs are typically more efficient than the larger diameter bulbs, and will probably more costs savings over time.
Now that LED lights are becoming more common and less expensive, they are becoming a more popular choice to use for light boxes. They are still more expensive than florescent tubes up front, but their expected lifespan, efficiency, and therefore long term value are making them a great option for lightboxes. Lightboxes are by nature now typically made to be able to be easily opened up for maintenance so any time you can "extend" the time that you don't have to open up the sign for maintenance the better. This gives the use of LED lights within lightboxes a great option over florescent tubes if are you able to afford the greater upfront costs.
Lightboxes are used in a number of industries. Here are a few examples:
- Advertising - used for retail storefront signage and identifying stores
- Medical - used to view X-Rays
- Architectural/Construction - used to overlay blueprints and view "two" sheets at once on top of each other.
- Photography - used to view slides or negatives
- Photography - the term "light box" is also used to describe fabric reflectors that attach to studio lighting in order to diffuse studio lighting and minimize shadows when photographing subjects.
Lighted Sign Box
That brings us to the lighted box signs that we sell on DIYSignsupply.com. As mentioned above we well both turnkey, pre-fabricated signs and we sell DIY light box kits as well. For the turnkey lighted sign boxes the most common construction of lightboxes are metal sides with plastic faces. DIY Sign Supply signs come standard with strong 7" deep extruded alminum sides. When ordering a one-sided light box sign the rear face of the sign will be sheet metal. When ordering a two sided box the back side will be either acrylic or polycarbonate, depending on what you order. The one sided signs will come with brackets and instructions to be able to attach the sign to a wall. The two sided signs come with brackets as well. Please note that if your sign is required to be pole mounted additional support and preparation will be required for the sign. Please let us know and we will be able to provide a quote to add a pole mount connection to the sign.
DIY Lighted Sign Box Kits
Our DIY lighted sign box kits are very similar to our full signs but some of the "assembly" is left for you to complete and allows us to pass the savings on to you! Rather than assemblying everything ahead of time we will give you all of the pieces for you to do it yourself.