M.U.T.C.D. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, available from the US Dept of Tranportation. It defines highway sign standards and traffic control graphics.
MAGNESIUM PLATE (MAG PLATE) Composite metal sign material which can be acid-etched with fine detail for use in interior and exterior signs. Good for exterior-grade A.D.A. signs and more durable than photopolymer. Lighter weight and less expensive alternative to cast bronze or aluminum plaques. Because it is somewhat porous, it should be primed and painted rather than used as raw metal finish.
MAGNETIC SHEETING Magnetized sheet material laminated to a flexible plastic sheet and available in rolls. Cut to size and decorated, magnetic sheeting works well for temporary signs applied to magnetic metal surfaces.
MALLEABLE METAL Any metal that can be hammered or bent into desired shape with minimal chance of breaking or cracking.
MANIFOLD A part of the neon pumping system; the manifold is a system of vacuum-tight tubing arranged so that one or more tubes can be attached to it, evacuated with a vacuum system, and filled with rare gases.
MAQUETTE French word for "MOCK-UP" or "model".
MARK See logo, trademark.
MARQUEE 1. The portion of a canopy, sign, or architectural element protruding from a building face that projects over the public street or sidewalk. Can be lighted, used for advertising of events, and is typically used by theaters. 2. A projecting structure permanently attached to, but not a part of the roof. Also known as a canopy. 3. In computer graphics, the process of using a mouse-driven cursor to draw a rectangle around an on-screen object, therefore selecting it for further work. Also called "highlighting" in some software.
MASKING In painting or screen-printing, the process of covering areas, usually with tape or paper, to protect them from receiving subsequent layers of paint or ink.
MASONITE A brand of hard substrate made from wood chips that have been pressed into boards.
MATRIX A regular array of lighting units in the display area of an electronic changeable message sign. See also electronic messsage center.
MATTE FINISH Having a dull surface; not shiny or reflective.
MAXIMUM YIELD In production, the amount of material utilized versus what is wasted or dropped. To achieve maximum yield, objects, letters, etc. are nested manually or via computer to allow the smallest amount of waste in a sheet of material. Also used in reference to organizing cuts on lengths of stock (e.g., bar stock, tube, rod, etc.) to minimize wasted material. See also nesting, yield.
MBE Minority Business Enterprise.
MDO See medium-density overlay.
MEDEX® A chemically treated, exterior-grade particle board used in sign manufacturing as a substrate.
MEDIUM-DENSITY OVERLAY (MDO) A type of plywood considered an ideal base for paint ad recommended for signs. MDO is exterior-grade plywood with a smooth impregnated paper veneer on both sides.
MEMORIAL SIGN A building sign or plaque noting such information as the name of the building or structure, when it was built, and by whom.
MENU BOARD A changeable point-of-purchase advertising display that allows the retailer to list products and prices.
MERCURY A heavy, silver-white metallic element liquid at room temperature. When heated to a vapor through which an electronic current is discharged, it produces a bluish-green light. It may be mixed with rare gases, typically argon, to produce the ultraviolet light necessary to excite the phosphors in neon tubes and in florescent lamps.
MESH In screen-printing, the material stretched across the frame. Also referred to as the fabric.
MESSAGE CENTER Any sign that displays changeable copy through electronic or mechanical means.
MESSAGE CONTROLLER In an electronic sign, the device that stores messages entered by the operator and conveys them to the display area of the sign in the proper order using electrical impulses.
MESSAGE SCHEDULE A list of sign types programmed for a given facility which provides sign type, location reference, and message.
METAL FINISHES Sign finishes vary greatly between silver metals and yellow metals. Typically both include polished, brushed, satin, matte, painted, anodized, antique, oxidized, galvanized, chrome-plated, nickel-plated, engine-turned, and many others. Metals typically come in a mill finish (as fabricated by the manufacturer). There are many levels of finishes that relate to gloss and reflectance including matte, satin, nondirectional, abraded, brushed, and mirror finish.
MICROMETER A finely tuned measuring device used to determine thickness, or gauge, of thin objects.
MILD STEEL Steel containing less than three-tenths of one percent (0.003) carbon. Not used in structural applications due to its relatively low strength.
MIRROR 1. Function of reversing type or an image in design. Used mainly for cutting copy or images to be installed on the inside surface of a transparent substrate such as a window. 2. Highly polished, virtually specular finish on surface or material.
MOCK-UP Typically a full-size model used to test scale, color, appearance, legibility and/or aesthetic aspects. Usually made of materials that simulate final construction materials and finishes. Also called maquette.
MODEL Typically a smaller-scale, proportionally reduced version of a larger architectural element.
MOIRÉ An interference pattern created by the overlay of two regular patterns. In screen-printing, the undesirable pattern on halftones caused by incorrect screen angles.
MOLDING A trim, commonly of wood or metal, available in many shapes and profiles, used as detail on many different types of signs. The metal or wood that frames a billboard.
MOMENT CONNECTION A connection between two structural members that is highly resistant to rotation between the members, as differentiated from a pin connection which allows rotation.
MONOLITH A body of stone, plain or reinforced concrete, cast or erected as a single integral mass or structure.
MONUMENT SIGN A freestanding sign sitting directly on the ground or mounted on a low base. Usually identifies facility, building, or entrance.
MOSAIC Tile with a series of small inlaid pieces of porcelain or natural clay materials that form decorative patterns, images, or words.
MOTTLED 1. Marked or patterned with irregular patches of color. 2. Describing a surface finish that is rough or uneven.
MSDS Material safety data sheet, provided by the manufacturer.
MULTICOLOR PRINTING Any screen-printing job involving the application of more than one color of ink.
MUNTZ METAL An alloy of copper (55%–61%) and zinc (39%–45%) with up to 1% lead. This brass is highly malleable and is used for sign plaques and letters.
MURAL Wall surface that has been treated with a paint, tile, or vinyl graphic pattern, image, or shape. Historically murals have been either hand-painted or mosaics. Now murals can be achieved using large-format digital prints that can emulate any material or finish desired.