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Hand-Making Our New Company Sign

Learn about the process, technologies, tools, and techniques we used to hand-make a new illuminated sign for our Tokyo headquarters office.


As you may know, on March 1, 2019, we merged with QuickTranslate and changed our company name from anydooR to Xtra. We, therefore, needed to create a new sign for the reception of our Tokyo headquarters office.

We were curious about Philips Hue; a line of color changing LED lamps and white bulbs which can be controlled wirelessly. We found out that Apple stocked the HomeKit version, so went to their nearest store to our office; Apple Ginza.

The Apple Store in Ginza, Tokyo - Photo by Xtra. Inc.
The Apple Store in Ginza, Tokyo

Man holding Philips Hue HomeKit box at Apple Store Ginza, Tokyo, Japan
We got the Philips Hue HomeKit!

At this stage, we were thinking to somehow use the lighting inside a 3D printed sign. We learned that the MONO co-working space in the Tokyo Telecom Center building had a workroom and 3D printer, so made our way over there.

Telecom Center train station, Tokyo, Japan
We took the train to Telecom Center

Tokyo Telecom Center building, Japan
Tokyo Telecom Center

When using the workroom for the first time, you have to get instruction from the person in charge. So, while we were waiting, we made a 3D model.

3D model shown on MacBook Pro
Creating a 3D model to base our sign on

After a while, when the person in charge came, we told them of our plan to create a sign with their 3D printer.

1.75mm PLA 3D filament

However, we found that it could only deal with red, the work would take more than one day, and we'd need to make a reservation to do the work with the person in charge. We were in a hurry, so decided to research other options.

Japanese man thinking with MacBook Pro
Doh! What to do next?

While we were doing that, the person in charge of the workroom suggested we instead try making it using a laser cutter.

Japanese men using laser cutter, Tokyo, Japan
Discussing using a laser cutter instead.

That sounded like a great idea, so we went off to the nearest home center to buy wood.

Japanese man searching hardware store, Tokyo, Japan
Hunting around the home center for the right wood.

There were so many different types of wood available that it was hard to decide, but we eventually settled on a kind that would be easy to deal with and went back to MONO.

Japanese men using laser cutter, Tokyo, Japan
Getting ready to do some laser cutting!

Japanese man using wood cutting machine, Tokyo, Japan
First, we had to cut the wood to size.

We first had to process the logo data on dedicated software before it would work with the cutting tool.

Japanese man preparing a cutting outline on a computer, Tokyo, Japan
Preparing our cutting outline.

At first, we tried to make a mini sign with a piece of wood.

Testing laser cutter on logo, Tokyo, Japan
The mini version for testing.

It was the first time for us to use a laser cutter, so we were quite excited.

Corporate logo cut out of wood using laser cutter, Tokyo, Japan
Not bad, eh?

Wow - it turned out quite well! This trial confirmed the hardness of the wood, and so we were now ready to move onto creating the full-size sign.

Japanese men planning laser cutting, Tokyo, Japan
It was great having an expert guide us.

We went through the same process and checked how it looked.

Japanese man cutting corporate logo from wood, Tokyo, Japan

Hm? The cut didn't go through the wood fully because we didn't give it enough time. We set it again.

Japanese men planning laser cutting project, Tokyo, Japan

It wasn't bad, but we decided to give it one more go. It got a little scuffed but wasn't bad.

Laser cutting logo from wood, Tokyo, Japan

This is how it looked once we took out the middle pieces.

Logo cut out of wood, Tokyo, Japan

We did it!

Logo cut out of wood, Tokyo, Japan

With the laser cutter work complete, it was time to take the parts back to the office for assembling and finishing. Since it was wood, we decided to apply some glossy varnish.

Japanese man spraying varnish on logo laser-cut from wood, Tokyo, Japan

The smell of the fumes went through our entire office, and we had to open some windows to clear the air.

Japanese man spraying varnish on logo laser-cut from wood, Tokyo, Japan

Once the varnishing was done, we were able to start the assembly. Finally, we were able to incorporate our Philips Hue in between the cavity of the backboard and the front parts.

Xtra, Inc. corporate logo laser-cut from wood, Tokyo, Japan

Looks good! We set it up in the corner of our office. Now to turn it on and let it shine!

Illuminated Xtra, Inc. corporate logo laser-cut from wood, Tokyo, Japan

And, we can even change colors!

Illuminated Xtra, Inc. corporate logo laser-cut from wood, Tokyo, Japan

Illuminated Xtra, Inc. corporate logo laser-cut from wood, Tokyo, Japan

It's important to have a workspace that you enjoy spending time in. Part of this is creating the environment itself. We look forward to showing off this sign to our office visitors!


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Written by Yuji, translated by DLKR


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