ABATEMENT: In law, the removal or control of an annoyance, such as a sign not meeting a community's sign code. Most commonly used as term associated with removal of asbestos.
ABRASIVE METHOD: Acid-etching or sandblasting to alter the surface of a material. The material is masked and an abrasive method applied, incising a graphic into substrate.
ACCESS PANEL: Removable or swinging panel, usually flush with adjoining surface, that provides access to concealed equipment or system components for inspection, maintenance, and repair.
ACETATE: A thin flexible plastic sheet usually available in roll form. Durable and stretch-resistant, this clear material is normally used as a substrate in point-of-purchase signs. Available in glossy and matte finishes.
ACID-ETCHING: A method similar to sandblasting, used primarily for marking glass. A stencil of the artwork is either hand- or computer-cut and applied to the glass, which is then brushed with an acid mixture such as ammonium and sodium biflouride. After a specified length of time, the surface is washed and the stencil removed. Also called etching.
ACRYLIC: Often used as a generic term for plastics used in sign making. Acrylic is a type of plastic (Plexiglas, Acrylite, are well known proprietary trade names) characterized by clarity, transparent and opaque color ranges, and paintability. It also has excellent machinability. Cast and extruded acrylics have different qualities and tolerances.
ACRYLIC PAINT: A type of paint or ink with an acrylic resin base, normally used in silk screening and screen-printing and when hand-painting signs.
ADHESION: The ability of two materials to be held together at the molecular level. Normally created by use of an adhesive such as double-sided tape or glue. Can also refer to magnetic adhesion, or mechanical adhesion by suction, Velcro, etc.
ADHESIVE: A material able to hold two surfaces or materials together. Often activated by heat or pressure. Examples include tape, glue, paste, synthetic resin, epoxy or silicone adhesives.
ADVANCE NOTICE SIGN: A sign used to provide an advance notice prior to a roadway, street, or building entrance. Similar to a directional sign, but usually announces a single destination. Also called approach sign.
AIRBRUSH: A device used in hand-painting that utilizes compressed air to generate a fine spray of paint. As air passes through the head of the airbrush, a vacuum is created, siphoning the paint up from its container. Airbrushes come in a variety of sizes with different heads and tips depending on the detail required.
ALUMINUM: A light common material used in sign panels, poles and frames.
AMBIENT LIGHT: The general level of light, or background light, in a given environment. The ambient light level is the sum of all light (direct and indirect) in a given area emitted by natural and manmade sources at a given time. It can affect the legibility of signs, and may require alterations in illumination methods.
A.D.A. (AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT):This legislation was enacted by the federal government in 1991 in order to remove barriers in the environment that limit any individual's ability to function in the physical environment. Within the five titles of the ADA is Title III, which pertains to signs.
ANCHOR: Any device that secures one object to another and does not give way, as well as the process of installing those devices. In signmaking, this term refers particularly to the fasteners that are used to secure awnings and fascia signs to facades. See also J-bolt.
ANGLE: An extruded length of material, usually plastic, aluminum, or steel, in the shape of an L (right angle). A structural angle has rounded, or radiused, interior corners and more inherent strength than architectural angle, which has crisp, 90-degree interior corners.
ANODIZED FINISH: An electrochemical coating applied to the surface of metal, to harden, protect, and enhance the beauty and durability of metal surface. The type of finish typically applied to aluminum may include tints, colors, or clear coatings. The anodizing process builds an oxide film on the surface by making the aluminum the anode, or electrically positive element, in a suitable electrolyte (chromic or sulfuric acid solution).
APPLICATION: The installation of vinyl on a surface. Two main methods are used: wet and dry. Wet application involves the use of a soapy solution or special fluid on a surface, allowing the vinyl and its transfer-tape carrier to be positioned before final placement. Dry application places the vinyl and transfer tape immediately in its final position, and usually involves hinging for setting the material.
APPROACH: The area along a street or sidewalk from where a sign first becomes visible until the display is no long readable as the viewer passes by.
ARC: A curved line segment that is a segment of the circumference of a circle.
ARCHITECTURAL SIGNAGE: A term that was coined in the 1960s to identify visual communications and wayfinding information in the built environment. Hence, physical enhancements to a building or space with the purpose of identifying or communicating information.
ART / ARTWORK: All copy, graphics, and logos used in preparing a job.
AWNING: A shelter usually constructed of nonrigid materials on a supporting framework that projects from and is supported by the exterior wall of a building. An awning may or may not be illuminated and/or decorated with graphics to serve as a sign. There are also glass and metal awnings. Also called canopy.
BACK-LIGHTED SIGN: A sign consisting of a cabinet containing a light source surrounded by one or more translucent faces, which may be illuminated for visibility.
BACK-TO-BACK: Two or more sign faces mounted on a common structure but facing in opposite directions; many pole signs are back-to-back or double-sided.
BAKED ENAMEL: A type of metal finish. Special enamel paint is sprayed or screen-printed on the metal surface, dried, and then cured. The result is an extremely durable surface similar to that found on many appliances.
BALANCE: In design, the relationship between the design elements such that opposing forces have equal distribution of weight in the layout. The overall quality of a design that makes it feels right.
BANNER: A sign made of fabric, plastic, or other nonrigid material which has no enclosing framework. It may be painted, screen-printed, digitally printed, or decorated with vinyl. See also flag.
BASE: 1. The trim beneath the bottom molding of a sign or bulletin. 2. The foundation or support of freestanding sign. See also footing. 3. The first or background color(s) in screen-printing.
BILLBOARD: A large outdoor board used for posting advertising. The name comes from the traditional practice of posting bills, or pre-painted messages. In the 19th century, it became common for businesses to lease separate board space for their bills, hence the name billboard.
BINDER: A substance that binds two other substances together. For instance, lacquer is used as a binder when painting with some metallic dusts. Many paints require binders.
BLEED: In screen-printing, bleed refers to the portion of an image that extends beyond the area of the finished print. When the print is cut or die-cut, the bleed is cut away. Bleed is also used to describe the area where one color overprints or traps another for purposes of registration. See also trapping.
BORDER: Most commonly a line or repetitive design used to emphasize or set apart all or portions of a sign's art. In electric signs, illuminated tubes and arrows or decorative molding may also serve as borders.
BRAILLE: Raised bumps or dots set in established patterns to communicate letters and words to the visually impaired. Grade 2 Braille is required by A.D.A., due to its more widespread use in the visually impaired community. System created by Louis Braille (1809–52) by modifying the Barbier "point writing" system used for coded army messages.
BRONZE: An alloy of copper and tin with traces of other metals (zinc, nickel, and lead), used for sculpture, sign plaques, and dimensional lettering. Letters or forms can be cut out of solid material (using a band saw or a water jet). It can be cast (sand-cast, ceramic mold-cast). It can be fabricated from thin sheets to create dimensional letters (fabricated and soldered). Bronze signs may be lacquered to prevent oxidation, pre-oxidized, or left to oxidize naturally. Many finishes are available; patinaed, oil-rubbed, clear-lacquered, polished, brushed, etc.
BRUSHED FINISH: A non-reflective, textured finish mechanically or chemically applied to metal for decorative purposes. Grained effect is usually created using sandpaper. Long grain finish applied by hand or via belt sander. Short grain finish applied by using a drum sander.BURNISH: To polish by rubbing. For instance, after gold leaf is applied to a substrate, it is burnished with a cotton cloth to bring up the shine and reveal any holes where the leaf will have to be applied a second time.
CAD: Computer-aided design.