PAGE The production area of a plotter or printer. Most plotters have a limit of page size along the y-axis (usually a few inches less that the width of the material) and the x-axis (although most allow 1,000" or more). See also panel.
PAINT A liquid coating made up of a pigment suspended in a vehicle or binder. Common paint vehicles include resins dissolved in solvents or water. Paint may be brushed, sprayed, or rolled onto a substrate. It dries to a hard film that bonds the pigment to the surface.
PAINT FINISH In descending order of reflectance: gloss, semigloss, 20 percent gloss (preferred by the A.D.A.), eggshell, and matte ("dead flat finish").
PANEL A section of artwork based on the production area of a device, such as a plotter or printer. If the artwork size exceeds the production area, different panels are set up by the sign software, and can be produced by selecting individual panels. See also tiling.
PANELBOARD In a building, the center of the electrical distribution system.
PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM® (PMS) Standardized series of thousands of colors, each with specific color formulations as identification number. PMS colors are duplicated in swatch books and in computer-graphics programs to allow exact duplication of colors in color printing and other marking or painting processes, such as signmaking.
PARALLEL COMMUNICATIONS A method of sending information from a computer to another device (such as a plotter or printer) by sending multiple signals at once through a cable. Faster than serial communications, but a computer may not be able to sense errors in the device receiving the information. Available with all IBM-type computers and some plotters/printers.
PATINA A finish applied (or achieved by age) to metal surfaces (especially copper, brasses, and bronze). May include statuary bronze (classic brown color), verdigris (green-gray), and various other colorized finishes.
PATTERN A full-sized layout of a design. May refer to the design into which neon tubes will be bent, the configuration of vertical sides of channel letters to be constructed, or for painting. See also pounce pattern.
PAVEMENT GRAPHICS Typically white or yellow graphics applied to asphalt or concrete roadways and parking areas to supplement traffic markings.
PEGGED OUT See pinned out.
PENNANT A piece of plastic or cloth, pointed at the bottom and suspended by its top. Often undecorated, it is a temporary attention-getting device.
PERFORATING WHEEL A toothed wheel on a handle that allows it to rotate freely. After a full-sized pattern is created, the perforating wheel is used to trace its line, creating perforations that can be brushed with dust or powder, creating an outline on the surface to be painted. Also called a pounce wheel. See also pounce pattern.
PERMIT A license granted by the appropriate authorities to allow a sign to be erected.
PHOSPHORS Chemical powders used to coat fluorescent tubes. They become excited when subjected to the ultraviolet light produced by the discharge in a luminous tube. A range of phosphors is available and is capable of producing a large variety of colors and whites.
PHOTO SIMULATION Typically a digital photo illustration showing a proposed concept. It is used to show new graphic elements in context. Two-dimensional or three-dimensional drawn objects are placed into a photoshop document of the existing situation. A type of digital rendering. See also rendering.
PHOTO STENCIL A stencil prepared using photographic methods, rather than mechanical devices or cutting by hand.
PHOTO-CUT A method of vectoring an image in a parallel-line pattern to give a rough, but recognizable, rendering of sharp outlines from a high-contrast or medium-contrast photograph.
PHOTOPOLYMER A specialized plastic with photosensitive coating which is masked and photoetched to create tactile graphics. Used primarily for A.D.A. signage requiring tactile copy and Braille.
PICTOGRAM A pictorial representation or graphic symbol. Pictograms are commonly found in environmenal graphics (restrooms and directionals) and regulatory (traffic) signs. Pictograms, including the recognizable ISA, are useful to bridge language barriers, as in airports. See also D.O.T. symbols.
PIGMENT A compound used to color other materials, such as paints and inks. Pigments are insoluble (unlike dyes), finely ground particles and may be organic or inorganic.
PINCH ROLLER A wheeled holder, usually tensioned by springs, that clamps vinyl or other materials between it and a grit wheel for transporting the material through a friction-feed plotter. Plotters use two pinch rollers, with one or both movable along the y-axis to accommodate materials of different widths.
PINHOLES Tiny, unsealed spots in the nonprinting areas of a screen, which allow ink to flow onto areas that aren't supposed to be printed.
PINNED OUT Describing letters mounted so they are separated from the surface to which they are attached. Pinning out is an important part of affixing reverse channel letters, but metal, plastic, or wood letters may also be pinned out to prevent stains from washing down the letters or for visual impact. Also called pegged out.
PLASMA SCREEN A type of flat-screen digital image display screen which is uniformly flat and less than five inches deep.
PLASTIC A generic term for a wide range of synthetic materials which consist of a long chains of polymers that are moldable and soften when heated. Many plastics used in the sign industry are of the thermoplastic variety, which means they can melt and solidify repeatedly.
PLASTIC-FACED LETTERS Channel letters in which the front of the channel is covered by a translucent plastic face, diffusing the neon lighting within.
PLEXIGLAS The trade name for a brand of acrylic sheeting, which (like Kleenex) is often mistakenly used as a generic term.
PLOT PLAN A drawing or sketch showing the layout looking down on the site on which a sign is to be erected. A plot plan will commonly show such things as the sign's relationship to buildings, parking, pedestrian ways, etc. It is sometimes required to obtain a permit.
PLOTTER A computer-controlled printer or cutter.
PMS COLORS See pantone matching system®.
POINT-OF-PURCHASE SIGNS/ADVERTISING In-store advertising designed to stimulate impulse purchases by shoppers inside a store. The term applies to a store's internal sign system, as well as special displays and dispensers created by and for specific product manufacturers. Also known as "point-of-sale advertising."
POLE SIGN A freestanding sign, usually double-faced, mounted on a round pole, square tube, or other fabricated member without any type of secondary support.
POLLING A method where a computer sends a signal to a plotter or printer requesting information on the current production area. The device sends back an answer on production parameters; the production software then sets panels, or tiles, based on the information. Works only with serial communications.
POLYCARBONATE A specific thermosetting resin characterized by its durability, flexibility, machinery, and endurance under UV exposure. Lexan is a polycarbonate. See also acrylic.
POLYPROPYLENE A type of plastic sheet used in banners, noted for its flexibility at low temperatures and its resistance to chemicals.
POLYURETHANE A type of hard thermoset plastic foam used in sign production. It has the density and characteristics of wood, but only one-third of the weight. It can be used for carving and sandblasting signs much like wood.
POLYVINYL CHLORIDE (PVC) A specific thermoset plastic which is weather and chemical resistant, available extruded into many forms or cast as sheets in a variety of colors and thicknesses . (It is also used for drainage and plumbing piping).
PORCELAIN ENAMEL / PORCELAIN SIGN A traditional process to coat metal with a ceramic slip which is fired at extremely high heat to create a durable, glasslike surface that is impervious to the environment.
PORTABLE SIGN A freestanding, on-premise sign, not designed to be permanently affixed in place.
POSITIVE SPACE The copy and art on a sign face. The opposite of negative space.
POST AND PANEL SIGN A sign panel with one or more posts.
POSTER 1. A series of paper sheets printed for use on a billboard. Other substrates used for poster include plastic and cloth. 2. A sign typically printed on paper and intended for indoor use. Other substrates used for poster include plastic and cloth.
POSTSCRIPT (PS) A graphics software that is also used for proportional scaling of images. It is what makes most scalable type and artwork possible for Windows- and Macintosh-based graphics software.
POUNCE PATTERN A full-sized pattern of any design to be painted. Once the pattern is created, the outline is perforated using a manual or computer-driven perforation wheel. The pattern is then held firmly against the substrate and the perforations patted with powder, charcoal, or colored chalk dust, leaving an outline of the design. This ancient technique was used by Michaelangelo to transfer images to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and is still in use today.
POUNCE WHEEL See perforating wheel.
POURED IN PLACE Refers to concrete footings for signs. Wet concrete is delivered or mixed on site and poured into a form, creating desired shape. Normal curing and finishing techniques are applied as necessary. Alternative to pre-cast concrete, which is formed, poured, cured and finished off site, then brought to site and installed.
POWDER COATING A specific process for applying paint to a surface that creates a very durable protective surface.
PPI (PIXELS PER INCH) The number of pixels in a raster image that will occur in one line in the span of one inch. The higher the PPI, the greater the resolution and the less distinguishable each pixel becomes.
PRECAST CONCRETE Steel- or glass-fiber reinforced concrete cast in a mold.
PRECINCT SIGN See gateway sign.
PRESSURE-SENSITIVE An adhesive that reacts when pressure is applied to the surface it is between. Sometimes used to refer to vinyl with a pressure-sensitive adhesive.
PRIMARY COLORS The three colors from which all other colors can be created. In paint pigments, the primary colors are yellow, red, and blue. In four-color process printing, all colors are mixed from yellow, magenta (red), and cyan (blue). In light, the primary colors are red, green, and blue. See also RGB display, additive colors.
PRIME To coat a substrate prior to the application of paint or adhesive. A primer coat prevents subsequent coats of paint or adhesive from being absorbed. The process is intended to improve the performance and life of the product.
PRINT STROKE A pass of the squeegee across the screen in screen-printing. This forces the ink through the stencil onto the substrate.
PROCESS COLOR The three primary colors of printing—yellow, magenta, and cyan—plus black. When printed as halftones in that order, they create a full range of natural colors. Also called four-color process.
PROJECTING SIGN A sign that is attached to a building but extends beyond the building structure. Regulators often set a predetermined distance that a sign must extend beyond a building for it to be considered a projecting sign. A decorated awning is an example of a projecting sign. See also blade sign.
PROTOTYPE Usually a full-sized sample that uses final materials, methods of construction, fasteners, and finishes to test assembly, design, construction, and appearance issues. Also used approve the "first sample" in a long production run.
PUMPING SYSTEM In neon tube production, the pumping system is used to remove impurities from the tubes and fill them with rare gases. A pumping system typically consists of a manifold, vacuum pumps, rare gases, a bombardier, and electrical controllers.
PUSH-THROUGH A letter or graphic which is cut out, then pushed through a corresponding space that has been removed from the sign substrate. The push-through is typically different color and/or material than the rest of the sign. Typically used with an opaque sign cabinet and internal lighting. "Push-thru letters" are most often translucent acrylic letters that are pushed through a sign face panel to be flush or over-flush with the front surface of the sign face.
PVC See polyvinyl chloride.
PYLON A freestanding sign that is not a pole or ground sign.