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Glossary of Terms



Tack: The stickiness of an adhesive under a given condition. Some adhesives require a particular temperature range to achieve maximum tack.
Tactile sign: A sign, or an area within a sign, that conveys its message through engraved or raised artwork, making it accessible to the visually impaired.  The use of these signs is often mandated by regulations.
Target audience: The profile of the most desired consumer prospects for a given product or service, listed by characteristics such as demography, lifestyle, media consumption or purchase behavior, etc.
TCO (Temporary Certificate of Occupancy): This typically allows a new building to be occupied before it is fully complete.  Even though the building is not fully completed life safety signs must be in place to protect occupants and the public at large.
TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf): An electronic device for text communication via a telephone line when one or more of the parties has hearing or speech difficulties.  Regulations require the use of symbols to show where TDD unit is available.
Tempera: Pigment mixed in a water medium, usually with a binder and adhesive. Tempera paints produce a luminous effect.
Template: A full-sized pattern or layout showing the exact size and placement of letters. Typically used for installing dimensional letters.
Temporary sign: Any sign that is not intended to be permanently installed. Banners and signs at construction sites are good examples of temporary signs. Regulations typically limit the length of time a temporary sign can remain in place.
Tensile strength: The maximum load a material can withstand before it breaks. (Also called breaking strength.)
Thermoforming: A process that takes a flat piece of material and gives it dimension by heating then forcing it into a mold either mechanically or pneumatically. (See also vacuum-forming.)
Thinner: Any liquid used to reduce the thickness of paint or ink.
Three-dimensional (3D) engraving: A routing procedure where the tool bit can be moved vertically in addition to normal horizontal movement allowing relieves to be created in the substrate.
Thumbnail: A type of rough sketch of a design made prior to developing more finalized presentations. Some graphic designers prepare several thumbnail sketches of a job, varying their layouts and fonts, before preparing one or two more complete ideas to take to a client.
Throughput:  A measure of the amount of material that can be processed and produced by a device such as a plotter or large format printer.
TIFF (tagged image file format): Standard graphics file format used for scanned bit-mapped images.
Tiling: The process of dividing a large image into individual sections to print with overlap.
Time and temperature display: A variable message sign which displays the current time and temperature.  These may be incorporated into a larger sign to enhance the advertising message.
Time switch: A switch that utilizes a clock or timer to automatically turn on and off electric signs at set times each day.
Tint: A colour made lighter than the original by adding white to it.
Touch screen: An interactive computerized screen that is controlled by touching the screen.
Tone: The effect on a colour brought about by blending it with another colour.
Tongue tear: This is a test for the tearing strength of a textile fabric.   The test is detailed per ASTM D-2261 where a machine will tear a strip of fabric in both the warp and weft directions.
Top coating: The coating intended for the front, side or top of a fabric or membrane.
Touch screen: Computerized CRT or LCD screen directory or information station that is activated by touching the screen.
Tracking: The ability to add or subtract minute increments of space between letters. (See also letter spacing and kerning.)
Trademark: Used by businesses to distinguish themselves and their products from their competition. A trademark may include letters, symbols or shapes word or combination of those. Once registered, the use of a trademark is protected. Sign makers should only reproduce a trademark with the owner’s permission. (See also logo and registered trademark.)
Traffic count: The estimated number of people who will see a sign in a given time period. Traffic count is most commonly associated with number of vehicles passing a location in a day.
Transfer tape: A medium-tack adhesive coated on translucent paper. Transfer tape is placed over weeded vinyl images while still on the original carrier liner to enable the image to be transferred and placed on a substrate.
Transformer: An electrical device that converts an input voltage to a desired output voltage. A transformer is used to provide the high voltage that neon signs require to operate.
Translucent: The property of a material such as vinyl, paint or ink that allows the passage of some light through it without being transparent. Internally illuminated signs rely on translucent paints and vinyl.
Transparent: The property of a material that allows light and images through and may also show a colour tint.
Tri-colour LED: An LED that displays the colours red, yellow and green.
Triple message sign: A type of sign consisting of rotating triangular louvers. The louvers turn in unison showing three different messages as the three faces are exposed. They allow for three times the static advertising/communication power at one location.
Trough letter: A metal channel letter with an exposed neon tube in the trough for illumination.
Tube colours: Tubing for neon signs is produced as clear glass or in colours. Different tube colours serve as filters that only allow the desired colour to shine through. In many cases, the only way to achieve rich primary colours is through coloured glass.
Tube diameter: The term used to describe the width of a tube. The standard measurement to describe the width of neon tubing is expressed in millimeters.
Tunneling: The separation of a laminate from a substrate, appearing in a straight line/channel, due to insufficient adhesion, inadequate tension/stability during application, improper curing after application or improper preparation of the substrate.
Typeface: A set of letters and numerals sharing the same design characteristics. Examples of typeface sets include Times New Roman and Helvetica. (Also called font.)