Glossary of Terms

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  • 3D (three-dimensional) engraving

    A routing procedure where the tool bit can be moved independently along the up-and-down z-axis while still traveling an x/y-axis tool path. 3D engraving can create relieves and hand-chiseled looks while removing material from a substrate.

  • abatement

    Related to signage, it is the removal or correction of a sign that violates local community code or standards.

  • abrasion resistance

    The ability of a given surface to resist scratching or scuffing due to contact or friction with another material. It is one measure of durability.

  • access door

    A hinged or removable panel that when opened provides access to the interior of a sign allowing for the inspection and servicing of its internal components. (Also called access panel.)

  • access panel

    A hinged or removable panel that when opened provides access to the interior of a sign allowing for the inspection and servicing of its internal components. (Also called access door.)

  • acetate

    A thin, clear plastic material that is both flexible and strong. Available in both glossy and matte finishes, it is receptive to ink, and is popular as a substrate for point-of-purchase advertising signs.

  • achromatic

    Literally means without color. Black, white and grays are achromatic.

  • acid etching

    A method of marking or decorating a surface. In acid etching an acid resistant stencil of the artwork or text is applied to the chosen surface. A corrosive compound such as hydrofluoric acid is then applied to the remaining exposed areas. After a specified length of time during which the acid mixture is allowed to eat away at the exposed material, the entire surface is washed and the stencil removed, leaving behind an etched impression of the artwork. (See also etching and sandblasting.)

  • acrylic

    Generic term for a type of durable plastic commonly used in sign making. Noted for its excellent clarity, acrylic can also be manufactured in a wide range of transparent and opaque colors. Its ability to be easily machined, shaped and painted explains acrylic's popularity. Plexiglas® and Acrylite® are well-known commercial brands of the material.

  • acrylic paint

    Any water-based paint having its pigments or dyes bound in an acrylic resin emulsion. Once dry, acrylic paint forms a tough, flexible film that is resistant to water. These types of paints are often used for silkscreening and screen printing and for hand painted signs.

  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

    Legislation enacted by the U.S. federal government in 1991 with the goal of removing barriers that limit a disabled individual's ability to engage in normal daily activity in the physical, public environment. Title III of the ADA deals with related signage and wayfinding issues.

  • ADAA (Americans with Disabilities Accessibility Guidelines)

    A set of U.S. standards enacted in 1990 with the goal of ensuring equal access to public places and facilities for all persons. For signage and wayfinding, the ADAA defines proper letter forms and letter heights for best legibility, proper Braille and tactile lettering forms, and also appropriate signage materials and finishes.

  • additive colors

    Red, green and blue are the three additive colors of light. All other colors of light are created by combinations of these three. If the three additive colors come together in equal proportions, the resulting light is white. (Also called additive primaries. See also primary colors.)

  • additive primaries

    Red, green and blue are the three additive colors of light. All other colors of light are created by combinations of these three. If the three additive colors come together in equal proportions, the resulting light is white. (Also called additive colors. See also primary colors.)

  • adhesion

    The force that holds the surface of one material to another. The strength of adhesion is affected by the type and condition of the surfaces in question and the adhesive used. Generally the surfaces need to be clean and porous enough to allow for a certain amount of penetration by the adhesive.

  • adhesive

    A material or substance able to bind and hold two surfaces together. Examples include glue, epoxy and tape.

  • Adobe Acrobat®

    Popular software package used for viewing and printing Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The advantage of a PDF file is that it allows anyone to view and print a document as it was originally intended without having to install the program or fonts used to create the file. Adobe Acrobat is a product of Adobe Systems®, Inc.

  • advance notice sign

    A sign indicating the approach of a specific destination such as a highway, street intersection or building entrance. Different to a directional sign in that it announces a single destination. (Also called an approach sign.)

  • aesthetics

    The general perception of an sign's artistic merit or beauty, both on its own and in relation to its surroundings. The design, construction, materials and colors of a sign all factor into its aesthetic appeal.

  • age in

    The initial time a new neon light must be on before it is able to achieve full brightness thereafter. The amount of time this takes can vary widely. (Also called burn-in. See also initial lumens.)

  • airbrush

    A handheld painting device that uses compressed air to generate a fine spray of paint. The pressurized air passes through the airbrush nozzle creating a vacuum that siphons paint from an attached container. Airbrushes come in a variety of sizes for different applications, and can be fitted with a variety of nozzles for different effects and levels of detail.

  • aluminum

    A lightweight metal material used in sign panels, poles and frames. It is strong and durable in relation to its weight, and resistant to rust and corrosion.

  • ambient light

    The sum of all non-directional light in a given area emitted by all sources at a given time. A high level of ambient light can have an impact on a sign's readability, and can be a consideration in a sign's design. Outdoor sunlight creates a high level of ambient light.

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

    A private, nonprofit organization in the U.S. that works to develop manufacturing and quality standards across multiple industries. The organization also works with the committees of other nations to develop standards that facilitate international trade and telecommunications.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    Legislation enacted by the U.S. federal government in 1991 with the goal of removing barriers that limit a disabled individual's ability to engage in normal daily activity in the physical, public environment. Title III of the ADA deals with related signage and wayfinding issues.

  • amortization

    When a previously conforming sign is subsequently deemed to be non-conforming, the owner of the sign is notified and given a grace period during which he may continue to keep and use the sign. At the end of the grace period the sign must be removed. This process is referred to as amortization. The legality and enforceability of amortization depends state and local law, and other possible conditions.

  • anchor

    In general, any device that connects and secures one object to another. An example would be the devices used to secure awnings and fascia signs to facades. (See also expansion anchor and J-bolt.)

  • animated sign

    A sign that uses the sequential switching on and off of graphically arranged fluorescent lamps, cathode tubes, LEDs or incandescents so as to provide the illusion of movement. (See also chase [2].)

  • annual ADT (annual average daily traffic)

    The average number of vehicles passing a given location each day over the course of a year. This statistic can usually be obtained from your state or local roads department.

  • annual average daily traffic (annual ADT)

    The average number of vehicles passing a given location each day over the course of a year. This statistic can usually be obtained from your state or local roads department.

  • anodized finish

    A thin aluminum oxide coating applied electrochemically to the surface of a metal object. The coating hardens, protects and enhances the appearance of the object. An anodized finish can be created in a variety of colors.

  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

    A private, nonprofit organization in the U.S. that works to develop manufacturing and quality standards across multiple industries. The organization also works with the committees of other nations to develop standards that facilitate international trade and telecommunications.

  • applique

    A graphic element made separately then affixed to a cloth or fabric covering such as an awning.

  • approach

    The distance at which a sign becomes readable to a viewer to the point where the sign is no longer readable as the viewer passes by.

  • approach sign

    A sign indicating the approach of a specific destination such as a highway, street intersection, or building entrance. Different to a directional sign in that it announces a single destination. (Also called an advance notice sign.)

  • architectural signage

    A term used to describe signage in a built environment having the purpose of providing wayfinding or other site specific information.

  • argon

    An inert gas used in fluorescent lamps and neon tubes. By itself, argon generates pale lavender light. Combined with mercury, it can generate a blue or ultra-violet light.

  • artwork

    Any and all logos, graphics and images used in creating a sign.

  • aspect ratio

    The width-to-height ratio of an image. For example, a high definition television image has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (commonly referenced as 16:9), meaning that for every 1.78 inches of image width the image extends 1 inch in height.

  • awning cord

    Most commonly a small diameter, cotton braid cord manufactured for stretch resistance and used for tying down awning covers.

  • awning sign

    A projecting sign made of non rigid material such as heavy canvas supported by a framework that is attached to a building's substrate. The awning sign extends outward from the building and so provides shaded cover and protection from weather for customers and pedestrians. An awning sign will have lettering and/or graphics painted or screen printed on its exterior surface. It may or not be illuminated. (See also backlit awning and canopy sign.)

  • back-to-back sign

    A sign having two faces mounted in opposite directions. Pole signs typically have back-to-back faces. (Also called a double-faced sign.)

  • background panel

    A sign panel to which text or graphical elements are affixed.

  • backlighted letter

    An illuminated reverse channel letter where the light from the letter is directed against and reflected off the surface behind the letter thereby producing a glowing effect around the letter. (Also referred to as halo lighting.)

  • backlit awning

    An awning sign that is lit from underneath by fluorescent or other high output lighting. The light shines through the awning fabric, illuminating whatever text or graphics are on it and providing effective nighttime readability. The light emanating from underneath the awning also provides light to the sidewalk or street below. (Also called illuminated awning. See also awning sign and canopy sign.)

  • backlit sign

    A sign where the sign face is illuminated from behind. (Also called illuminated sign. See also internally illuminated sign and exterior illuminated sign.)

  • ballast

    A fluorescent light fixture component, the primary function of which is to provide sufficient starting voltage for the lamp. A ballast may also serve to heat the fluorescent lamp electrodes, and control the amount of power to the lamp once it is operating.

  • ballpoint Braille

    Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create informational Braille text as required by the ADA. (Also known as Braille bullets or Braille beads.)

  • banding

    The appearance of solid bands or patterns of visibly distinct colors within what should otherwise be a continuous and seamless color gradation. Banding can be caused by several factors, including low resolution artwork, a poor quality scan of the original artwork or improper calibration of the printer used.

  • banner

    A sign made of non rigid material such as canvas or vinyl, and typically having no enclosing or supporting framework. Often intended for temporary use, a banner sign can be screen printed or painted, and is commonly hung from a pole or mounted to the facade of a building. (See also flag and pennant.)

  • base plate

    A flat, thick piece of metal, usually steel and square or rectangular in shape, welded to the bottom of a sign support structure and then anchored with bolts to a concrete foundation or other substructure.

  • bench sign

    A sign mounted onto, or incorporated into a seat in a public area such as a bus stop bench. (See also street furniture.)

  • bevel

    1. A slant or angle on a surface. 2. A cut made at the edge of a material to form an angle that is not 90

  • bid package

    Documents from a prospective customer that state for the contractor the requirements and conditions of the project under bid. These documents communicate such details as design intent, desired materials, installation criteria and other project specifics. They also include standardized bidding forms and bidding instructions. (Also called front end documents.).

  • billboard

    A large (15 square feet in area or larger) outdoor sign used for advertising and typically seen along highways, main streets and other high traffic areas. An advertiser will rent a billboard and display their advertisement on it for a set length of time.

  • blackout

    A specially formulated paint or coating for use on electric signs to block light emission where needed, for example between letters in a neon sign. It adheres well to glass, and resists weather, heat and electrical discharge. (Also called blockout.)

  • blade sign

    A type of projecting sign mounted such that the face of the sign is perpendicular to the normal flow of traffic.

  • blank

    An uninstalled sign panel with no lettering or graphics applied. (Also called an insert.)

  • bleed

    1. In screen printing, the term refers to the portion of a printed image or graphic which extends beyond the intended borders of a sign. This excess portion is trimmed away. 2. Sometimes used to describe the halation where sharply contrasting colors meet on an illuminated sign.

  • blind fasteners

    Fasteners used to mount signs to walls and others surfaces while remaining hidden from view. (Also called concealed fasteners.)

  • blistering

    The appearance of bumps and bubbles on a surface covered in a coating such as paint, or a material such as vinyl. It is the result of the coating or material losing adhesion and separating from the surface underneath.

  • block color

    An area of solid color having no gradation.

  • blockout

    A specially formulated paint or coating for use on electric signs to block light emission where needed, for example between letters in a neon sign. It adheres well to glass, and resists weather, heat and electrical discharge. (Also called blackout.)

  • bombarding

    The process of heating to a high temperature the glass of a neon tube for the purpose of releasing trapped gases and other impurities within it.

  • bonderizing

    The process of treating a metal surface with a zinc phosphate coating in preparation for painting or enameling.

  • border

    A line or band of color or material that defines that outer edges of a sign and/or elements within the sign.

  • box sign

    A sign that is self enclosed in a typically square or rectangular structure with or without internal lighting. Can be single- or double-faced. (See also light box.)

  • Braille

    A system of small raised dots that represent the alphabet, punctuation and numbers for the visually impaired. The ADA stipulates the use of Braille on signage in certain instances.

  • Braille beads

    Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create informational Braille text as required by the ADA. (Also known as Braille bullets or ballpoint Braille.)

  • Braille bullets

    Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create informational Braille text as required by the ADA. (Also known as ballpoint Braille or Braille beads.)

  • brand equity

    The value a customer places on a branded product or service. It is the qualitative sum of everything that a customer thinks, feels and knows about the product or service. The value of brand equity can be determined by comparing the expected future revenue of the branded product/service against the expected future revenue from an equivalent but non-branded product/service. (See also branding.)

  • branding

    The process of creating a unique, positive and recognizable identity for a product or service. Along with marketing and advertising, creating a visual identity through signage is an important part of the branding process. (See also brand equity.)

  • breakaway foundation

    A type of sign foundation that allows a sign pole or other attached support structure to break away cleanly if struck by a motor vehicle, thereby reducing the force of impact to the occupants inside the vehicle. Required by law in many areas. (Also called a frangible sign mount.)

  • breaking strength

    The maximum load a material can withstand before it breaks. (Also called tensile strength.)

  • brightness

    1. The perceived amount of light that a visual target emits or reflects. Its relative luminance. 2. The amount of white in a given color. The greater the amount of white, the brighter the color is said to be. Brightness is one of the three attributes of color along with hue and saturation.

  • bronze

    A very strong and durable metal alloy made of copper and tin with traces of other metals such as zinc and nickel. It can be cast for the making of plaques, or fabricated from thin sheets into dimensional letters. Bronze can be finished in a variety of ways including being brushed, polished or lacquered.

  • brushed finish

    A textured, non-reflective polished finish applied to metal by lightly brushing the surface with an abrasive material or briefly applying a mildly corrosive chemical.

  • buff

    To polish a metal surface by rubbing it with a slightly abrasive compound. (See also burnish.)

  • building code

    Regulations issued by state and local governments that establish standards for the construction, modification and repair of buildings and other structures in the interest of public health, safety and general welfare. (See also content neutral time, place and manner regulations.)

  • building mounted sign

    Any sign that is applied or attached to a building in some manner.

  • built-up letter

    A lettering technique in which the outline of the letter is made first and then filled in.

  • bulletin colors

    A type of quick drying, fade resistant enamel paint commonly used by sign painters for hand lettering.

  • burn-in

    The initial time a new neon light must be on before it is able to achieve full brightness thereafter. The amount of time this takes can vary widely. (Also called age in. See also initial lumens.)

  • burnish

    To polish by friction, i.e. to rub with pressure. No abrasive compound or material is used when burnishing. (See also buff.)

  • butt joint

    The type of joint formed when two pieces of material (wood, metal, etc.) come together flush and edge-to-edge.

  • CAC (customer acquisition cost)

    The cost of convincing a new customer to buy your product or service. This includes the cost of market research, marketing and advertising.

  • CAD (computer aided design) software

    Advanced software used in engineering and manufacturing to create and modify complex 3D technical drawings of a device and its components.

  • candela

    A unit of luminosity used to express the intensity of a light source as measured in a specific direction. The higher the number of candela measured, the greater the intensity of the light.

  • canopy sign

    A projecting sign made of non-rigid material such as heavy canvas supported by a framework that at one end is attached to a building's substrate and at the other end supported by one or more poles. The canopy sign extends outward from the building and acts as a roof over the area it covers, providing weather protection for customers, pedestrians and possibly even vehicles. A canopy sign will have lettering and/or graphics painted or screen printed on its exterior surface. It may or not be illuminated. (See also awning sign and backlit awning.)

  • canvas

    a tightly woven heavy and durable fabric made of cotton, linen or synthetic material.

  • carved letters

    Lettering that is chiseled, routed, engraved or sandblasted into the substrate of a sign face either by hand or by computer controlled machinery.

  • carved signs

    Any sign made by the routing, engraving, sandblasting or chiseling of lettering, shapes and/or patterns into the substrate of a sign face either by hand or by computer controlled machinery.

  • CAS (computer-aided sign making)

    General term for the use of design software and computer controlled manufacturing equipment in the sign-making process.

  • cast metal sign

    Any metal sign that is made through a casting process. Aluminum and bronze are commonly used for cast metal signs such as plaques.

  • casting

    The process by which a material such as metal or plastic is poured into a mold while in a liquid state and then allowed to solidify, thereby taking the shape of the mold and creating a copy of the original object from which the mold was made. (See also die-casting.)

  • changeable copy panel

    A panel of a sign that allows for changeable copy. (See also changeable copy sign.)

  • changeable copy sign

    A sign where the copy on the face can be changed at will either manually using attachable letters, mechanically using a rotating panel or electronically via computer-controlled bulbs, LEDs or LCD screen, etc.

  • channel

    Term for a length of plastic or metal that has been extruded into the shape of a U.

  • channel letter

    A three-dimensional letter formed out of channel into which a light source such as a neon tube may be placed.

  • chase

    1. To decorate or modify a metal surface by engraving, etching or cutting. 2. The illusion of movement created by the sequential turning on and off of lights in an illuminated sign. (See also animated sign.)

  • chisel

    1. A tool made of hardened steel and used to shape wood or stone. It has a handle at one end and a cutting edge at the other, and is worked by hitting the top of the handle with a mallet. 2. The process of using a chisel tool to shape or carve into a piece of wood or stone.

  • chrome plating

    A thin protective and decorative finish made of chromium that is applied to a surface using an electrochemical process. It provides a bright, mirror-like finish.

  • cladding

    A cover added to conceal or decorate the base or supporting structure of a sign.

  • clearance

    The measured distance between the lowest portion of a sign and the highest point of the grade underneath. (Also called height above grade.)

  • CMYK

    Abbreviation for the ink colors cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black. Combinations of these four colors of inks are used in printing to create all other colors.

  • coat-out

    Painting the substrate of a sign with a coat of primer prior to applying the lettering and graphics.

  • coated fabric

    Any fabric that has been treated or coated with a substance such as plastics, rubber or oils in order to make it stronger and/or more durable.

  • coated tubing

    A type of glass tubing used in neon signs that is coated on the inside surface with a phosphorus compound. The color a coated tube will produce depends on the specific compound used.

  • cold cathode

    The technical name for a neon lamp, in particular those with tubing diameter greater than 15mm and operating between 60mA and 240mA.

  • color contrast

    The subjective degree of difference in hue, intensity and saturation of two colors when seen next to each other.

  • color separation

    The process of decomposing and separating a color graphic or image into its four constituent CMYK ink colors such that each color ends up with its own printing plate. The plates are then used in a printing press to reproduce the image on paper.

  • colored tubing

    A term for colored glass tubing used in neon signs to achieve a greater level of color saturated light not possible with typical clear glass neon tubes.

  • concealed fasteners

    Fasteners used to mount signs to walls and others surfaces while remaining hidden from view. (Also called blind fasteners.)

  • concrete sign

    A sign for which the substrate is concrete. A concrete sign can be cast or poured in place.

  • conduit

    Metal or plastic tubes that channel and protect electric cables.

  • conforming sign

    A sign that has been legally installed in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.

  • conspicuity

    The effectiveness of sign in standing out from its surrounding environment and capturing the attention of the passerby.

  • construction site sign

    A temporary sign, typically large and freestanding, displayed at construction site to promote and provide information about the company or companies involved in the project. These can include the contractor, architect, developer, etc. (Also called a job site sign.)

  • content neutral time, place and manner regulations

    Those sign regulations which specify, without consideration of the sign's content or message, how, when and where a sign can be displayed, including such parameters as height, size and location. (See also building code.)

  • contrast

    1. The amount of difference between the lightest and darkest areas in an image or scene. 2. The visual characteristics of an object such as size, shape and color that make it distinguishable from other objects near it and the background it is set against.

  • copy

    As a whole, the written message on a sign. (See also artwork.)

  • copy area

    The area on a sign face that contains the copy.

  • cordage

    General term for all rope, cord, line and string.

  • corona treatment

    A treatment process that alters the static charge of material's surface, making it more receptive to the application of inks, coatings and adhesives.

  • corrugated board

    A sign board created by gluing a corrugated piece of material to a flat a piece of material, or between two flat pieces. The most common type of corrugated material used in sign making is plastic.

  • cost per thousand (CPT)

    The cost of reaching 1,000 viewers with an advertisement in a given medium--print, radio, television and signage. Based on CPT, signage is the least expensive form of advertising available.

  • cove lighting

    A type of indirect lighting that emanates upward from a ledge, valance or horizontal recess. Commonly uses a fluorescent, neon or fiber optic light source.

  • coverage

    1. The square surface area that a given amount of paint, glue or other applied substance will cover. 2. The percentage of people in a market that are reached by an advertisement in a given medium, e.g. print, radio, TV and signage.

  • CPT (cost per thousand)

    The cost of reaching 1,000 viewers with an advertisement in a given medium--print, radio, television and signage. Based on CPT, signage is the least expensive form of advertising available.

  • crazing

    The appearance of fine cracks in the surface of paint, lacquer, plastic or vinyl. Typically the result of prolonged exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet light) and weather.

  • crocking

    The rubbing off of color from a fabric as a result of using improper or defective dye.

  • crossover

    The connection between two portions of a neon sign, for example where two letters come together. Typically, crossover points are coated with blockout to hide them from view.

  • curing

    The process of drying or hardening ink, glue or other substances through the application of heat or ultraviolet light.

  • customer acquisition costs (CAC)

    The cost of convincing a new customer to buy your product or service. This includes the cost of market research, marketing and advertising.

  • daily effective circulation (DEC)

    The average number of persons per day who see a given sign or group of signs. A "day" equates to a 12-hour period for non-illuminated signs, and an 18-hour period for illuminated signs.

  • dead load

    The total weight of the materials used in a sign and its supporting structure. The dead load, including its distribution within the sign structure, must be taken into account when calculating load bearing requirements.

  • debossed lettering

    Sign lettering where the lettering has been engraved, carved or otherwise recessed into the sign substrate. (See also embossed lettering.)

  • DEC (daily effective circulation)

    The average number of persons per day who see a given sign or group of signs. A "day" equates to a 12-hour period for non-illuminated signs, and an 18-hour period for illuminated signs.

  • decal

    Screen printed lettering and graphics that can be transferred and affixed to another surface through the application of water or heat.

  • deck cabinet

    A structure that houses the electric components of a sign, but also serves as the background and support structure of the sign. Similar to a raceway except larger.

  • delamination

    The separation of the individual plies (layers) in a laminated substrate. Typically caused by the failure of the adhesive between layers.

  • denier

    A unit of measure for the weight of fiber. Specifically, it is the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of a given fiber.

  • density

    The ratio between the mass (weight) of a substance to the volume of space it occupies. In sign making, the term is commonly applied to foam boards and is expressed in pounds per cubic foot.

  • deposit

    In sign making, this refers to the amount of ink applied to the substrate.

  • design

    The clear and complete specifications for the appearance, structure and implementation of a sign. A design may include technical drawings, illustrations and written descriptions of the sign.

  • design intent drawings

    Drawings of a sign that show the basic size, profile and parts of it, but provide no further design details. Design intent drawings are typically included as part of the bid package from the customer.

  • die-casting

    The process by which molten metal is poured into a hardened metal mold and then allowed to cool and solidify, thereby taking the shape of the mold and creating a precise copy of the original object from which the mold was made or designed. (See also casting.)

  • die-cutting

    The process of cutting material such as paper or vinyl using a steel blade (called a die) manufactured to cut a specific shape. The die-cutting process is typically used when a large number of items must be cut to the same shape or size.

  • dielectric welding

    The process of joining two pieces of vinyl or other applicable material by heating and melting the seams together using high frequency electrical impulses.

  • dimensional letter

    Any letter, logo or symbol that has a raised profile in relation to the sign substrate.

  • direct illumination

    Illuminating a sign by means of an external light source directed at the sign face. (See also exterior illuminated sign.)

  • directional sign

    A sign providing information, either written or visual, that helps direct a person to a destination.

  • directory sign

    A sign that provides an organized list of names of people, offices or facilities located within a given building or area. Usually located at a public access point such as a building lobby, a directory sign may provide simple text listings or also include maps and other wayfinding information.

  • DOT (Department of Transportation) symbols

    The set of standardized symbols developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for use in traffic signs.

  • double back

    A 180-degree bend in a neon tube.

  • double tube

    Two neon tubes running parallel to each other.

  • double-faced sign

    A sign having two faces mounted in opposite directions. Pole signs are typically doubled-faced. (Also called a back-to-back sign.)

  • drop shadow

    The visual effect of creating a false shadow behind a letter or object by placing a darker colored but identically shaped copy of it behind it but slightly offset up or down and to one side.

  • dye

    Any of a range of soluble compounds used for coloring fabrics. (See also pigment and stain.)

  • edge-lit sign

    An illuminated sign where the light source is positioned on the outside of the sign face along one or more of its edges such that the light shines back onto it.

  • electric sign

    Any sign that contains and utilizes electrical components.

  • electro-mechanical sign

    A type of message center sign where an electrically driven mechanical device rotates or flips between two or more panels with different messages.

  • electronic display

    Generic term for any type of electronic programmable display. (See also LCD sign.)

  • electronic message center (EMC)

    A variable message sign that utilizes a computer or other electronic controlled means to change and control the message displayed. May use incandescent lamp LCD, LED or other display technologies.

  • electrostatic film

    A thin, electrostatically charged material such as PVC used for lettering and graphics on glass and other smooth surfaces. The static charge enables the material to firmly adhere to the smooth surface, yet still be peeled off relatively easily.

  • elevation

    A scale drawing of an exterior side of a given structure such as a building or sign.

  • embellishment

    In signage, it refers to any element of a sign face that provides a decorative effect.

  • emboss

    To create raised lettering or graphics in relief on the substrate of a sign through stamping, hammering or molding.

  • embossed plastic sign face

    A plastic sign face that has had three dimensional lettering or graphical elements vacuum molded (embossed) into its surface. (Also called pan face.)

  • enamel

    A colored, powdered glass-based compound that is fused to the surface of metal or glass for decoration and protection. An enamel finish is typically opaque.

  • engine-turned

    A process of using a tool such as a drill press to create uniform circle or swirl patterns on metal or gold leaf finish.

  • engrave

    To incise (cut) a design into the surface of hard material such as metal using a handheld or machine controlled tool called a burin.

  • entrance canopy

    A type of canopy or awning that covers and identifies the entrance to a building or place of business.

  • epoxy

    A very strong, two-part adhesive--resin plus hardening agent--capable of bonding together a wide range of materials, including woods, composites and metals.

  • erect

    To construct and install a sign and its supporting structure.

  • etching

    The removal of selected portions of a layer of material from a substrate using a chemical or electrolytic process. Typically, a stencil is used to mark the areas to be etched and protect the other areas. (See also acid etching.)

  • expansion anchor

    A type of anchor that is designed to expand inside the drilled hole it is placed, thereby securing itself by the resulting pressure and friction against the sides of the hole. Typically used to anchor awnings to concrete or masonry.

  • extender

    An additive that increases the volume of ink without lowering its viscosity or one that improves the workability of an ink.

  • exterior illuminated sign

    A sign that is illuminated by an external light source directed at the sign face. (See also direct illumination.)

  • extrusion

    The process of forcing metal or plastic through a form in order to create a desired shape.

  • eyelet

    A small metal or plastic ring that is inserted into a hole made in another piece of material. It prevents fraying of the material around the hole and provides a durable, easily threaded opening for rope or twine. (Also called a grommet.)

  • fabricate

    To manufacture a sign or major sign components.

  • fabricated letter

    A dimensional letter typically fabricated from sheet metal.

  • facade

    The exterior walls of a building, especially the front or the most prominent side of the building.

  • face

    Typically refers to the most prominent message area of a sign but may refer generically to any message area. (Also called sign face. See also panel.)

  • fascia sign

    A sign mounted to a wall or other vertical surface. A flat sign that is mounted on a wall and the face of which runs parallel to the wall. A fascia sign does not typically project from the wall.

  • fasteners
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