US 2623315 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 30, 1952 H R, OWEN ETAL 2,623,315
SIGN CHARACTER ELEMENT Filed Deo. 2o, 19118 `Patented Dec. 3G, i952 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE SIGN CHARACTER ELEMENT Application December Z0, 1948, Serial No. 66,376
This invention relates to advertising and like signs and particularly to sign character elements for use in such signs and to a method of producing the same.
Advertising signs, particularly those of the electrically illuminated type, usually include a boxlike structure constructed from sheet metal and providing a background for painted or sheet metal sign character elements which are mounted thereon.
Such sign structures are subject to several disadvantages, one of which is that sheet metal supports of this character have little rigidity and must be adequately braced by a rigid internal structure. Even when such sign background structures are thus braced, they remain relatively flexible so that they bend readily when subjected to Wind loads and this results in deformation and cracking or breaking of the paint or other coating materialA which is applied to the outer surfaces. Moreover, the sign character elements, being made from sheet metal, possess very little strength, are relatively expensive to manufacture, and possess little, if any, artistic appeal. It is thus seen that the majority of signs are custom built since their parts cannot be standardized, except Where employed in identical signs.
We have discovered that a rigid sign structure is produced when it is composed of panels capable of being joined in end-to-end and sideby-side relationship, and when the panels are, in themselves, structural elements. Such a sign structure is disclosed in our application for patent for Sign Structure, Serial No. 25,328, filed May 6, 1948. As described in the application, the sign panels are made as cast metallic elements each having a platelike portion which provides a background, and perimetrical flanges, the latter components being adap-ted to be bolted or otherwise secured to the similar flanges of adjacent panels to provide, in effect, crossing ribs on the rear side of the sign structure which greatly strengthen the same and provide maximum rigidity. Signs composed of such structural and ornamental cast panels lend themselves to a large variety of shapes since the panels can be joined in many Ways to produce signs of desired sizes .and contours.
As will be apparent, sign panels of the cast type discussed above may assume various sizes and shapes and, in addition, may have raised or depressed sign character portions or letter strokes cast integral thereon or provided with sign character openings or windows therein through which light can be transmitted so that any desirable effect can be readily produced.
The vpresent invention is concerned with signs of the type last referred to above, that is, signs composed of a plurality of cast panels suitably joined. It has been determined that the cost of producing signs of this type can be maintained at a relatively low figure if the components, for example, the sign panels, are standardized as to size and shape. It has also been learned that if a sign panel can be made to serve either as an outline, silhouette or Window type character element, the utility of such a panel would be increased and the over-all cost of the sign would be accordingly reduced.
It is, therefore, an important object of my invention to provide a sign panel of the cast metal type which is initially formed with a raised sign character portion or letter stroke which may, if desired, be outlined by a gaseous discharge illuminating tube. A related object is to provide a sign panel of the type referred to in which the raised letter stroke is of channel-shaped cross section and capable of being readily separated from the platelike portion of the panel by a cutting operation, the cut being made in a plane y which is parallel to the face of the panel. By this construction and separation of the raised sign character portion from the panel, a distinct sign character is produced Which can be utilized on the same or another sign by mounting it flat ily divided to produce a pair of sign components so that by a single molding or casting process a pair of the components are at least partly formed and the over-all cost of the sign is materially reduced, this being an important object of the invention.
Another object is to provide a composite sign element of the type specified in which the severed sign character component can be employed either by itself as an outline or silhouette letter or used in conjunction with the panel from which it is separated to produce various lighting eifects.
A further object is to provide a method' of forming the separate sign character elements, the method consisting of a minimum number of extremely simple steps which can be carried out expeditiously and inexpensively.
Further objects of the invention will appear from the following specification and from the drawing, which is intended for the purpose of illustration only, and in which:
Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a composite sign character element embodying the features of the present invention;
Fig. 2 is a view similar to Fig. l, showing a raised character portion or letter stroke sepa rated from the main panel portion;
Fig. 3 is an enlarged sectional View, taken on a horizontal plane through the sign character element and showing the two companion parts employed in cooperative relationship to produce a silhouette lighting effect;
Fig. 4 is a perspective view of the sign panel from which the raised sign character element has been removed and illustrating a gaseous discharge illuminating tube disposed in the sign character opening or window thereof;
Fig. 5 is an enlarged sectional View, taken on line 5--5 of Fig. 4; and
Fig. 6 is an enlarged sectional view, taken on line S-t of Fig. 1.
The sign element lil shown in Fig. l is generally similar to the sign panel disclosed in the pending application referred to previously and has a substantially flat, rectangular, platelike panel portion Il and is provided with a perimetrical flange i2 projecting at right angles to the portion I I. The panel element Iii, which is molded or cast from light-weight metal, is thus channel shape in cross section and, consequently, has relatively great strength and rigidity so that it is, in effect, a structural element. The flange l2 of the panel element IG is provided with spaced apertures 32 which are adapted to register with the apertures of adjacent panel elements, bolts iii or lother fastening devices being inserted through the aligned apertures to secure the panels in end-to-end and side-by-side relationship. The flanges i2 thus provide, in effect, a network of crossing ribs which greatly strengthens and provides rigidity to the vsign structure. While the exterior surface of the platelike panel portion il is herein shown as plain, that is, without ornamentation, it may be suitably embellished with ribs, grooves, raised squares or any other markings te enchance its appearance and to provide a mat surface capable of diffusing light projected thereagainst, as explained in the pending application.
The sign panel element lil is provided with a sign character portion or letter stroke l5 which is cast integrally therewith and which projects forwardly from the platelike portion I i. rlfhe letter stroke I5 may be of any selected shape and size and, as shown in Figs. l and 6, is channel shape in cross section, being provided with side Iwalls I E and I'I and a front connecting web it.
The sign panel element it, having the sign character element I5 formed thereon, is applied to use as shown in Fig. l. That is to say, when the element El] is employed in an illuminated sign to designate a letter of a word for example, an electrically activated, gaseous discharge illuminating tube 2t may be mounted thereon as shown in Fig. l to provide an outline for the raised character I5, the ends of the tube extending inwardly through apertures in the panel portion II and -provided with electrodes adapted for connection to electrical contact means, the tube 2) being supported by suitable clips, these components being common in the art and, therefore, not shown or described herein.
As previously explained, it is sometimes desirable to employ sign character elements which have character openings in the form of windows through which light rays can project. The present invention contemplates the provision of such a sign character and, in accordance with the improved structure, this sign character is produced by the simple procedure of removing the raised sign character I5 from the panel Il as shown in Fig. 2. The removal of the raised character portion I5 may be readily accomplished by the simple act of cutting it from the platelike portion I by means of a relatively thin rotary cutter or saw, the cut being made in a plane which is parallel to the face of the platelike portion II. When the character portion I5 is removed, an opening or letter stroke 2|, of the same size and contour as the raised character I5, is provided in the platelike panel portion II. To apply the element I8 having the opening 2| to use, it may be incorporated in the sign structure by bolting its iiange I2 to the corresponding iianges of adjacent panels, which may be plain or provided with other letter strokes. After the sign structure has been built up, an electrically activated, gaseous discharge tube 22, of the samev size and contour as the opening 2l, is mounted in the opening, the tube thus serving to produce the desired illuminated letter or other sign character. If desired, the letter stroke opening fl may be closed by a translucent glass or plastic shield or window 25 through which the light rays emanating from the tube 22 are transmitted in a somewhat diifused condition, such an arrangement being shown in Figs. 4 and 5.
The sign character portion I5, after being separated from the composite sign panel It, can be applied to use in the same or other signs in various ways. For example, the portion l5, which may be regarded as a letter stroke element, c-an be secured flat against any background and illuminated in any manner, or it can be mounted upon the top of a deck or other horizontalsupport to form a silhouette o1' shadow letter as disclosed in a pending application for patent on Deck Sign, Serial No. 39,240, filed by Harold R. Owen on July 1'?, i948, now U. S. Patent No. 2,559,991, patented July 10, 1951. It is thus seen that the composite sign element Eil, including the panel II and the letter stroke l 5, can be used as shown in Fig. l, and that upon Vseparation of the letter stroke element l5 from the panel I I these components can be employed in the same or in diiferent signs for forming lettering having different lighting characteristics.
it is also within the concept of our invention to utilize the separated components H and I5 together as shown in Fig. 3 to produce a silhouette sign character. This result is accomplished by mounting the letter stroke element I5 forwardly of the panel element II and in alignment with the opening 2l thereof by means of suitable holders 29. An illuminating tube 30 is disposed within the letter stroke element I5 and follows the outline thereof. Since the element l5 is spaced from the forward surface of the panel II, light emanating from the tube 3d is transmitted through the space between the elements and onto the surfaces of the panel element adjacent the edges of the opening 2 I. The projected light is reected by the surfaces o the panel element, the
degree of reflectability of the panel element depending to a large extent upon the char-acter of the reflecting surface. The effect of such lighting is to cause the letter stroke element to be sharply outlined against a lighted background and thus provide a silhouette or shadow letter. By varying the space between the two elements I I and I5 and by changing the location of the illuminating tube 30 within the element I5, different lighting effects can be produced.
The present invention further contemplates a method of producing the sign character elements I I and I5. As explained previously, the elements II and I5 comprise integral portions of a composite sign element I which is made from light Weight sheet metal as a molding or casting. The composite element I0 is formed in a mold (not shown) which has a cavity of the size and outer shape of the element. The inner contour of the element I0 is dened by the companion part of the mold which provides, in effect, a core. To produce the sign elements II and I5, the molten metal is placed in the matrix portion of the mold and the core element forced thereagainst to cause the metal to flow and assume the shape of the composite element I0 which is thereafter removed from the mold, the molded product being of the slnape disclosed in Figs. 1 and 6. The sign element I0 is then divided into the two components II and I5 by a simple cutting operation which may be performed in a machine or by means of a rotary saw or band saw around which the element may be passed by an operator. To separate the letter stroke element I5 from the panel II, the latter is moved relative to the rotating saw in a plane which is parallel to the outer face of the panel and represented by the line -a: in Fig. 6, so as to sever the letter stroke close to the outer face of the panel. The two letter elements I I and I5 4are thus produced by a simple and economical method which consists merely of molding the composite sign element I0 and subsequently severing the raised letter stroke portion I5 from the panel portion. Preferably the outer surfaces of the sign elements II and I5 are coated with vitreous enamel or any other protective and ornamental coating and, as explained heretofore, these surfaces may be plain or marked with straight or crossing ribs or grooves or any desired geometrical designs to further enhance the appearance of the sign and provide backgrounds having various degrees of light reflectivity.
While we have herein disclosed the sign elements as embodied in preferred forms of construction and produced by a specic method, it will be apparent that various modifications therein may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention. Consequently, we do not wish to be limited in this respect, but desire to be afforded the full scope of the appended claims.
We claim as our invention:
1. A sign element. comprising: a cast, substantially planar panel having an opening representing a sign character in its face; a cast sign character member of the same configuration as said opening disposed forwardly of and in alignment with said opening in spaced relation to said face; and an electric gaseous discharge illuminating tube of the same configuration as said opening and disposed behind said sign ,character member and forwardly of said panel.
2. A sign element as defined in claim 1 in which said sign character member is substantially channel shaped in cross section and has a larger perimeter than said opening.
3. A sign element as delined in claim 1 .in which said sign character member is substantially channel shaped in cross section and said tube is disposed within said member so as to transmit light onto the face of said panel to be reflected thereby.
HAROLD R. OWEN. RALPH BROWN.
REFERENCES orrEn The following references are of record in the le of this patent:
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