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soft enamel pins

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What’s the Difference

From unique pins to challenge coins, a certain type of enamel is used to make these items colorful and detailed.

When it comes to choosing these kinds of products, what’s the difference when comparing the features of soft enamel vs hard enamel?

Read on to discover the two ways that enamel is used to make pins and coins and how to spot the difference.

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What's the Difference
Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What’s the Difference

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel: Texture  

The most significant difference between these two types of enamel pins and coins is the texture. You can tell the difference by running your finger over the surface of the enamel, and you may be able to tell by looking at the design, too.

A hard enamel pin is smooth and flat with a scratch-resistant finish. Soft enamel pins and coins have slightly raised metal edges around each section of the design to give it a more defined look.

Both soft and hard enamel pins and challenge coins are made from the same metal mold. They also use the same colors to make them, at least for most designs.

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What's the Difference
Soft enamel vs hard enamel

Another way to look at it is that soft enamel uses “recessed” sections of colored enamel that settle down in between the edges of the design. With hard enamel, the product comes out flat and smooth and often has a bit shinier appearance after manufacturing.

Manufacturing a Soft Enamel Pin  

Whether it’s a pin or challenge coin, a soft enamel design features a slightly different look and feel than its hard enamel counterpart. The colorful enamel is laid into the recessed sections of the pin or coin.

Once all of the enamel is in place, the product is placed into an oven. The oven’s high temperatures bake the enamel to make it hard and durable. This process only happens once so when the pin or coin dries, the enamel clings to the edges and the recesses below the metal outlines or “die line.”

Thanks to the raised metal ridges, the enamel colors don’t mix together. The final outcome is a unique dimensional look since the colorful paint is lower than the metal borders around each individual color.

When you gently rub your fingers over a soft enamel challenge coin, you will feel the raised metal ridges. Many people enjoy this style of enamel due to the unique texture and visual dimension.

Certain metal finishes can only be used with soft enamel. Black paint and rainbow plated challenge coins and pins should always be made using the soft enamel method.

The Hard Enamel Process  

If you’re looking for durability in the quest to determine soft enamel vs hard enamel, the hard enamel option is much tougher and more scratch-resistant. This process also results in a smooth, clean, and finished look that many customers prefer.

Overall, you can choose a soft or hard enamel product and have it made in the same design. Most of the time, it all comes down to your own personal preference or the preference of the recipient.

To make a hard enamel pin or challenge coin, the surface is first filled with the color and design. Next, the face of the pin or coin is gently ground down until it becomes smooth and flat. This combination of grinding and polishing is what makes hard enamel a good option for some metal finishes.

If you like gold or silver metal plating on your coin or pin, the hard enamel option may be best. As the enamel design is laid onto the surface, it’s repeated several times to raise the enamel high until it’s heated, hardened, and cured.

The polishing and smoothing process is what makes hard enamel pins so recognizable. The metal die lines are smoothed down to the same level as the enamel for a flat look and a smooth feel when you run your fingers over the surface.

Which One Should You Choose?  

There is really no right or wrong answer when deciding between a soft enamel or a hard enamel challenge coin or pin. Most of the time, it all comes down to personal preference, but there are a few other factors to consider.

Soft enamel allows for virtually every plating option including black paint, antiqued finishes, and other colors. Hard enamel only works with traditional plating’s like silver or gold.

Soft enamel coins or hard enamel coins

While the design should be the same for both enamel styles, soft enamel tends to show more intricate details. This is because the raised ridges really give the final product a bit more definition.

Surprisingly, soft enamel tends to cost less than hard enamel products. The main reason behind the cost difference is because it’s much more time-consuming and labor-intensive to achieve the smooth, polished look of a hard enamel product.

Soft enamel products are the most common option due to their faster turnaround times and unique details. However, if smooth and shiny is what you need, it might be best to opt for hard enamel.

Find Your Perfect Enamel Product  

In the comparison of soft enamel vs hard enamel, it really comes down to looks, texture, and production times. If you like the smooth and shiny option, hard enamel is the way to go. For those who prefer a little more texture and a bit more detail, you might want to opt for soft enamel.

If you’re interested in our products, designs, or services, feel free to explore our website and contact us today for a free quote.

Soft Enamel Pins vs. Hard Enamel: What’s the Difference?

A common question when designing a custom lapel pin is what’s the difference between soft enamel pins and hard enamel? The answer is in the details of the pin.

Have you been noticing all of these cool lapel pins and might want to get some for yourself? Wondering how you get started and what you need to know? You’ve come to the right place.

With lapel pins making a comeback, you have a lot of options that you can choose from to customize and make the pin everything you imagined it to be.

One of the decisions you have to make is between soft enamel pins and hard enamel pins. What does that mean? For someone that hasn’t gotten lapel pins before, those terms probably don’t mean much.

If you’d like to find out more about lapel pins and what you need to consider when you are creating them, keep reading to learn the difference between soft enamel and hard enamel pins.

How to Create a Soft Enamel Pin

Soft enamel is a very popular type of pin. It gives the pin a raised texture look which also feels a little different than hard enamel pins when they are finished.

The image you want gets stamped into the metal and then cut down to the right size. This can be anywhere from a small pin, such as 0.5″, to a large 4″ pin.

The soft enamel metal plating process, such as with gold or nickel, has to happen before the enamel gets filled. Because of this, only some of the metal finishes that you may like can actually be done with soft enamel.

For a pin to become plated with a colorful metal, such as black or another custom color, you can only use soft enamel. The enamel gets added in after the plating process to the recessed areas.

When finished and the enamel is dry, you may notice that the enamel has a soft and bumpy feel to it. If you would like, epoxy resin can coat the soft enamel if desired. This helps to flatten the enamel a little more and also give it more protection.

How to Make Hard Enamel Pins

These types of pins are more durable and sturdy than soft enamel pins. A lot of people will choose this pin instead because it has a very clean look.

Hard enamel pins become filled with the color enamel after the image is stamped in and cut out. Each color is cured in the oven one at a time, which can add to the expense of this pin because it takes a lot more time.

The pin is then polished down to be smooth and flat with the metal die lines. Because the grinding process is crucial, not all metal finishes work with the hard enamel pins. Gold or silver metal plating are some common options that you may use with a hard enamel pin.

After the colors are added and the pin has been polished, it is electroplated and polished one more time. This completes the pin.

The polishing process is done multiple times and it makes it a little harder to get specific detail in hard enamel, such as thin lines or small engravings.

Hard vs. Soft Enamel Pins: Which is Better?

The truth is that most designs that you may want, whether it is an image or a drawing, can likely be done with either option. A big part of the decision will come from your own preference on which you like better.

The way that both of these types of pins look are way different from each other. Hard enamel is much more refined and smooth while soft enamel is a little more quirky and unique. Another difference is that soft enamel can really get all of those minute details onto the pin while hard enamel is going to look a little bit more specific each time.

A big part of the decision may be the price. Soft enamel is notoriously cheaper than hard enamel because it does not involve such an intense process to make. Hard enamel pins have to be polished and cured several times to achieve their look.

You may decide that one type is better for certain occasions while the other type is more suitable for other occasions. For example, military lapel pins can be made from hard enamel because it may look more professional and classic.

The great news is that you can easily make custom lapel pins that work with either soft enamel or hard enamel. If you have an event coming up or just want to make some pins for fun, you may want to experiment with both options to see which you like better.

One of the great things about being able to make these types of pins is that you can be creative! The sky is the limit and you can make pins that showcase exactly what you were hoping for.

Choosing the Best Lapel Pin for You

When you are deciding between soft enamel pins and hard enamel pins, it comes down to what you like the best and what you plan to do with the pin.

Remember that hard enamel pins are more durable, but they also cost a little more to make. A soft enamel pin is a little less scratch-resistant, but it can have a unique look about it that is hard to find elsewhere.

If you want to get some information about our lapel pins and how you can order them, check out our website to learn more. We have plenty of options to choose from!