Enamel Pins 101: What Are They and How to Make Them
Enamel pins offer a variety of options when it comes to design and manufacturing. Like many other pin types, they can be made into a wide array of shapes, sizes, finishes, and designs. They are also popular among trading pins since they are relatively easy to make and can yield premium results in the hands of good manufacturers and designers. If you are interested in getting your own enamel pins, there is a lot you should know before making your final decision. Here is everything that you need to know about enamel pins and how they are made.
What Are Enamel Pins?
Enamel pins are a specific type of lapel pin that utilizes enamel to create colors and images in a manner that is different from other lapel pin manufacturing techniques. This is done by applying a layer of enamel over another layer of metal to create contrasting colors that display a level of depth. Enamel pins were originally created for jewelry and decorative pins. They were later adopted for lapel pins and badges and are now used in different types of products and industries. Enamel lapel pins can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are usually made with two layers with the top layer being translucent enamel and the bottom layer being metal.
How Are Enamel Pins Made?
Enamel pins share manufacturing processes with many other types of pins. The key difference is in the coloring process where the enamel is added. Every manufacturer can use a slightly different process as well to achieve a different quality result. However, the overall process is consistent among manufacturers and the differences come down to the quality of each step as well as the materials used. Here is a more detailed look at the manufacturing process that we use to make enamel pins.
Completing the Design
Before any manufacturing can begin, the design team works with the client to finalize the design. They not only verify that the design is possible, but they also help with artwork and setting up the systems needed to make the pins. Once the final proof is finished, it becomes the template to make the dye that is used to make all of the pins of a specific design.
Dye Making and Stamping
The first step in the manufacturing process is to create a dye, which is a stamp made from a hard metal. This dye is placed in a high-powered press and used to stamp designs into other, slightly weaker pieces of metal.
The design, however, is not exactly the same as the design. Rather, it is the reverse (or negative) of the design. The dye is used to push in all of the areas where the enamel paint is added later. So, a design that consists of outlines will be reversed to create a dye that has no raised outlines. Instead, the outlines will be indented in the dye so that they are unaffected during the stamping process.
Once completed, the same dye is used repeatedly to make all of the pins of a particular design. Most dyes can last for hundreds, if not thousands of uses. However, the pins that are stamped as well as the dye are checked to make sure that they are accurate, consistent, and undamaged as a part of the quality control process.
The dye is used to stamp the design into either metal sheets or metal disks, depending on the design. Larger designs are often stamped onto sheets and then cut from that sheet while medium and smaller designs are stamped directly on metal discs called blanks. The blanks are removed, deburred (any sharp edges or burrs are removed), and inspected for quality before moving on.
The color filling process is where the type of enamel pin is decided. It can either be a hard enamel pin or a soft enamel pin. Both are made using a similar process with a slightly different process.
Both are filled with enamel paint according to the design. Enamel paint comes in a wide variety of color options, and custom colors can be created as well. Making the pins with a dye method makes it much easier to create fine details that the enamel paint can fill.
Soft enamel pins are filled to about 99% depth so that any outlines in the design are raised about the paint’s surface. Hard enamel pins are filled to 100% depth. Both are then heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to cure, making the paint hard and durable.
Hard enamel pins are polished so that they are flush with the metal surfaces outlined on the coin. This also gives it a harder feel and glossy finish, leading to more vibrant colors and a higher-quality finish. If you want an enamel pin but you want to upgrade it a bit, try switching from soft enamel to hard enamel.
At the end of the manufacturing process, all pins are checked for quality issues. Each pin is picked up and inspected for flaws, sharp edges, or other potential problems. If everything checks out, they are individually packaged and prepared for shipping.
Enamel Pin Design Options
One of the reasons why enamel pins are widely popular is because there are relatively few limits on your designs. As enamel pins are made with a metal base, they are available in a wide variety of finishes that can make your pin stand out. Here are a few basic options to think about during the design process.
Enamel pins can be made to nearly any size. The final size of the design is limited by the size of the dye and the matching blanks. Most pins are between one and three inches in size, although other options are possible. Changing the size of a pin design is an easy way to make it stand out from other options.
Since enamel pins are made of metals, they can be cut into nearly any shape. As long as your bins are not made small enough or thin enough to be flexible, the design is possible. With a creative design, you can use the overall shape of the pin as an important feature to differentiate it from others.
This also includes cutouts, or removed sections within the design of your pin. As long as the pin is designed to be structurally sound, parts can be cut out to give it a more dimensional presentation.
Metal Plating and Coatings
While the pins are stamped from aluminum blanks, they can be metal plated or coated to look like just about any other type of metal. Nickel, brass, and gold are common plating options, while spray black is a common coating option. Each coating or plating option has a unique set of features that you can use to enhance your pins overall design.
Enamel paint comes in a wide variety of color options. This gives you the ability to use color to your advantage. Most other pin options have limit color options, giving you a very small palette to make your designs work. Enamel pins have a lot of options to choose from, giving you numerous ways to make your pins unique. Many customers often order several designs with different color schemes so that they have more variation in their options.
Pros of Enamel Pins
Enamel pins are one of the most popular pin options because of their advantages over other styles. Here are a few of the reasons why enamel pins are popular.
They can be designed with a wide array of colors, patterns, and designs and can be made into almost any shape. They can be made in both simple and complex designs and in small and large quantities.
Enamel pins are durable and can be made with materials that are resistant to corrosion, scratching, and bending. They can be made in a wide variety of metals and can be plated with other materials to increase their durability.
Enamel pins are relatively affordable and can be made in small batches or large quantities. They are also easy to design and can be made with a variety of different materials.
Upgrade With Hard Enamel Pins
The enamel can be applied in different thicknesses to create different effects. Thin enamel will create a subtle effect while thick enamel will be more noticeable.
Get Your Enamel Pins From an Industry Leader
The company that you choose to make your pins plays an important part in their quality. For the best quality pins, work with an industry leader that has years of experience making pins for sports teams, individuals, businesses, and government agencies. Call us at 877-312-9794 to start your next pin order today.