If you walk around any major city these days, you’ll usually see a great deal of lit up advertisement emitting from storefront windows. This, of course, is an attempt to entice and catch the eye of the passerbyer. Over the years, storefront signs have increasingly become more sophisticated in an attempt to convey a sense of uniqueness in a sea competition. Those companies lucky to have a competitive edge have most likely cultivated a store almost mimicking art itself.

In the 20th century, light was used to advertise for the first time. Neon signs were a particularly effective form of signage that almost highlighted the city itself. The process of making neon signs took the artisan many years to master. Glass tubes were heated by fire to form shapes and letters. Different gases and electrodes were placed within theses tubes. When a voltage is applied, a brilliant neon color light attenuates along these glass tubes to form words and logos. A walk down Nathan road in Hong Kong reveals different artists styles. It has almost become a museum showcasing the days when signage was an artform.

Unfortunately, neon sign making is a dying art. Many older sign makers are having trouble finding young apprentices. Coupled with the cost to make neon signs, many people have turned to cheaper and faster ways to make signs. To the discerning eye, these new storefronts look cheap and have an air of laziness to the decor. The impression given off is one of fast sales and low quality; a byproduct of our throw away economy.

Members of Hot2D would like to create a business to bring back that sense of art to lit up signs. Mixing imagination with technology opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

how does it work?

We understand that neon signs are costly and time consuming to make. That's why we came up with a unique process to create signs in an efficient low cost way.

Hot2D takes the technical part out of the sign making business allowing the user to focus on the creative side. The user will create a sign in a vector based graphical software such as Adobe Illustrator. The user then sends the vector file such as an SVG to Hot2D.com. Once received Hot2D will generate the appropriate circuit boards that are in the shape of the users unique design. Depending on the colors used by the user, Hot2D will place the appropriate color LED’s onto the custom shape circuit board. We will also cut acrylic to be placed over the LED’s to defuse the light to create a solid light panel. This not only allows the user to create light tubes much like neon signs but also create solid colored areas that neon signs cannot achieve.

The user can submit multiple vector files to create an animated sign. The LED segments of the sign will be turned off and on to create this animated effect.

After the circuit boards and acrylic parts are manufactured, Hot2D will assemble the sign and do a quality check. We will then send the sign to the customer.

The diagram to the right shows the user experience:

How it works fish

how does Hot2D.com make money?

Simple. The circuit board manufacturers charge by circuit board area. Also, the laser cutters who produce the acrylic parts also charge by the area. And, of course, the larger the sign, the more LED’s are used. So, it’s only natural that Hot2D charges the customer by the area of their custom sign (example: charge by the square centimeter). Obviously, profits from the custom sign must be greater than the parts, assembly, and shipping costs combined. However, we think that Hot2D is a unique idea that deserves a healthy profit margin.

who is the customer?

Hot2D will appeal to a large audience around the world. The most obvious customer are small business owners. Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, dentists, ect.., are all looking to create something desirable to look at from people walking by their storefront. Also, businesses that have to advertise at conventions and road shows might benefit from creating custom lighting at their booths. People who prototype for a living such as designers may need custom lighting in their designs to enhance their concepts.

On the other side, we have individuals from the do it yourself (DIY) demographic. The DIY people love to create things themselves for artistic purposes. Perhaps these individuals would like to create custom signs in their homes or create lighting for 3D printed art pieces.