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Glossary of Terms


CAC (customer acquisition costs): 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: Software used in design and manufacturing to create and modify complex 3D technical drawings of an object and its components.
Calendared: A method of forming plastic sheeting by pressure under a roller.
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 is attached to the wall of a building. The canopy sign extends outward from the building and provides shaded cover and protection from weather for customers and pedestrians. 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 back lit awning.)
Canvas: A tightly woven heavy and durable fabric made of cotton, linen or synthetic material.
Carved letters: Lettering that is routed, engraved or sandblasted into the substrate of a sign face usually by computer controlled manufacturing equipment.
Carved signs: Any sign made by the routing, engraving or sandblasting of lettering and/or shapes into the substrate of a sign face usually by computer controlled manufacturing equipment.
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 the most commonly used metals for cast signs.
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. (See also die-casting.)
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 or LED may be placed.
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, durable, 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 colours cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). Combinations of these four colours of inks are used in printing to create all other colours.
CNC (Computer numerical control) router: A computerized machine with a rotary cutter that cuts material in three dimensions along x, y & z axis.  Due to the cutting speed and size of the substrate that can be machined, CNC routers frequently include a dust collection system. (See also routing.)
Coat-out: Painting the substrate or face of a sign with a primer coat prior to applying 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 colour a coated tube will produce depends on the specific compound used.
Cold cathode: The technical name for a neon lamp.
Colour contrast: The subjective degree of difference in hue, intensity and saturation of two colours when seen next to each other.
Colour separation: The process of decomposing and separating a colour graphic or image into its four constituent CMYK ink colours such that each colour ends up with its own printing plate. The plates are then used in a printing press to reproduce the image on paper.
Coloured tubing: A term for coloured glass tubing used in neon signs to achieve a greater level of colour saturated light.
Concealed fasteners: Fasteners used to mount signs to walls and others surfaces while remaining hidden from view. (Also called blind fasteners.)
Conduit: Metal or plastic tubes that enclose and protect electric cables.
Conforming sign: A sign that has been installed in accordance with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal regulations.
Conspicuity: The effectiveness of a sign to stand out from its surrounding environment and capture the attention of passersby.  (See also readability.)
Construction site sign: A temporary sign that announces project credits and information regarding a construction project such as architect, developer, consultants, financing, etc. Typically painted, vinyl, or digital print mounted onto plywood or exterior-grade particle board substrate.
Contrast: The amount of difference between the lightest and darkest areas in an image or the distinguishable difference between an image and the background it is set against.
Copy: The written message on a sign. (See also artwork.)
Copy area: The area of a sign face that contains the copy.
Corona treatment: A process that alters static charge of material, for greater adhesion of adhesives, inks and media.
Coroplast:  The trade name for a brand of corrugated sheeting, which is often mistakenly used as a generic term.
Corrugated board: A board created by gluing a corrugated piece to a flat face, or between two flat faces to increase the strength. Corrugated board is made from a variety of materials, in signage plastic is most commonly used and comes in a range of strengths and thicknesses.  Coroplast® is a well-known commercial brand of the material.
Cove lighting: A type of indirect illumination created by placing a lighting source inside a continuous trough or cove to hide the light source and produce an upward glow. Usually produced using neon or fiber-optic tube lighting.
Coverage: The percentage of people in a market that are reached by an advertisement in a given medium, e.g. print, radio, TV or signage.
CPT (cost per thousand): The cost of reaching 1,000 readers with an advertisement in a given medium--print, radio, television or signage. Based on CPT, signage is the least expensive form of advertising available.
Crazing: The appearance of fine cracks in the surface of paint, plastic or vinyl. Crazing is typically the result of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and weather.
Crop marks:  Marks used to align material that is reinstalled in a plotter for cutting following the application of an overlaminate.  During the printing process, crop marks are printed around the periphery of the image.  These marks are later detected by the plotter to correctly align the material prior to cutting desired shapes.
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 effecting a chemical change in some inks to aid drying or hardening by the application of heat or ultraviolet light.