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If you’re in the market for a custom lapel pin and don’t know where to start, this guide would be perfect for you. Having been in the custom promotional product industry my entire life, I would love to share with you the tips and tricks to make your pin as amazing as it can be and along with that I’ll glean some insider information on terminology, manufacturing and designing of lapel pins.
Backstamp: A stamp on the back of your pin can be customized with your information for an extra cost such as your company name or website URL or your phone number. By default, typically the backstamp will have your pin manufacturer’s name and information or otherwise nothing at all.
Bobble Heads: Not necessarily needing to be a “head” as this can refer to any smaller pin attached to another pin by way of a small coil spring.
Cloisonne: A style of pin with colored glass separated with metal borders. This type of pin is quite rare and most Cloisonne pins are in actuality Hard Enamel.
Clutches: These things keep your pin attached to your clothing, etc. Affixed on the pin post, clutches come in a variety of shapes and uses. The most popular clutches are the butterfly clutch which finds use in many military applications or the rubber/plastic clutches which are perfect when young ones may be interacting with the pin. Other fancier types are jewelry and deluxe clutches which are great when the overall presentation of the pin needs to be high and extravagant. Some of the rarer but available options are magnetic clutches, screw backs and safety pin like attachments.
Cut Outs: Any “hole” located within the pin. Be careful when designing cut outs into your pin design as they come at a cost. I’ve seen cut outs priced at $.10 per cut out, per pin.
Cut to Shape / Custom Shape: Pins don’t need to be generic shapes. Most any shape of pin is possible but take care if making the pin with enough places for pin post placement and room for the design to show clearly as well.
Danglers: A small pin attached to another pin by way of a jump loop or chain.
Die Struck: A type of pin style devoid of color not to be misconstrued with the manufacturing process of the same name. Most pins are die struck except photo-etched pins or pins that require “molding”.
Epoxy Finishes: A clear epoxy is placed onto pins for mainly one of two reasons. 1) an extra layer of protection is required. Some examples of that are glitter pins and offset printed pins. 2) personal preference. Some people like epoxy coatings just because they think it looks good. I’ve seen epoxy coatings be referred to as epoxy domes, clear coats, glazes, shellac and resin.
Glitter: Available in combination with any PMS color, glitter is a popular option in trading pins of all sorts (from baseball/softball teams to theme-park pin traders).
Hard Enamel: The true name of most “cloisonne” lapel pins. The face of the pin is smooth due to the colored areas being filled with enamel to the “top” of the metal borders of the pin.
Laser Engraving: This engraving process is required for serializations or when unique wording (such as names) needs to be placed onto the pin. Common applications for numbering is for tracking purposes of collectible pins and names are sometimes engraved onto pins when given out for special awards.
Metal Separations/Borders: Enamel colors must be separated from each other and that is done by way of the metal of the pin surrounding all of the colored areas. These metal borders are formed in the die striking process. The die depresses certain parts of the pins (areas where color will ultimately be placed) and the untouched areas of metal become the borders.
Offset Printing: When your pin design requires a photograph or color shifts/gradients then this is the pin type you’ll be quote by your lapel pin company of choice. The print quality, I’ve found, isn’t that great and the overall pin quality is perceived as lower most of the time. The printing is done on a piece of paper and is it encased in an epoxy coating for the paper’s protection.
Pin Posts: 8mm or 10mm pins are soldered to the back of your pin for attachment to your clothing, etc. The pin posts are sometimes cheaply affixed to a pin with adhesives instead of solders. Note, other types of attachments are available for a multitude of different applications.
Platings: We plate our pins in gold, silver, copper, black metal and black nickel. The base of a pin varies depending on the pin shape and can be brass, iron or zinc. The gold, silver and copper platings are available in polished or antiqued finishes.
PMS / Pantone Matching System: When you have your pin designed with a company, you’ll notice the colors of your lapel pin are associated with a PMS number from the Pantone Matching System’s Solid Coated colors. This color system is from Pantone, an industry leader when it comes to color/paint formulations.
Sequential Numbering: If your pins require a unique number for tracking or serialization purposes most any lapel pin company can accommodate that with this feature. It is accomplished with a laser engraver but having the numbers stamped in is an options likely with a greater cost.
Silk Screen: A painting process that allows for fine detail to be applied to the pin face. Some examples of design elements that call for this process is when a copyright or trademark symbol is required. Also, you can make an entire design in silk screen colors if you don’t want your lapel pin to have metal separations.
Soft Enamel Pins: A pin style that is defined by “raised” areas of metal with the painted areas being “recessed” into the pin face. Some people might refer to this style being textured on the face.
Spinners: A small pin is attached through a hole in another lapel pin. A stopper is added to the small pin’s pin post. Effectively the small pin can spin around the pin post and hole. Take care in designing your spinner because if the pin post is incorrectly located or the pin shape is not very symmetrical expect your spinner to be oddly positioned.
Trading Pins: These are soft enamel pins with heavily sports themed designs, mainly baseball and softball in nature though we are seeing a rise of basketball and hockey related pins.
Translucent Colors: As the name suggest, these colors are sort of see through. They can be made up of any Pantone Solid Coated color.
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