It’s a question we are often asked and we understand why there is a mystique that surrounds the two enamelling processes when creating Custom Pin Badges, so please read on and I’ll provide a few pointers for you that we hope will help.
Enamel Pin Badges have two main ingredients, plated metal and enamel. Both Hard and Soft Enamel Pins start life with the design in the form of a die, being stamped into a sheet of premium quality metal and then cut out to the shape of the pin badge design.
“Hey Bob” I hear you say, “Does it cost more to cut a pin badge to shape than leaving it in a circle or a rectangle for example?” The answer is generally No, unless your artwork requires fine cutting, cut-outs or has small shapes like the whiskers of a cat for example, that protrude from the main body of the badge. We always advise if a design requires something beyond a ‘standard' specification.
Once stamped and cut to shape, the metal shapes that will become your badges are plated in the metal colour you have chosen. Once the plating is set, the process of adding colour to the pin begins.
A Hard Enamel fill is created by filling the recesses of the metal base of the badge (‘the Badge Base’ …he-he-he!) right to the top of the surface of the raised metal outlines of the badge. The badges are then baked at a high temperature to allow the enamel to harden and achieve the bright vibrant colours you gain with enamel pins. Then, the badges go through a grinding process to flatten the surface resulting in a smooth, polished feel to the surface of the badge when you run your finger over the top of it. The enamel gives a clear reflection in direct light.
With many layers of enamel, baking at a high temperature and the grinding and polishing to achieve the finished result, a Hard Enamel Pin Badge is of real quality and extremely durable.
A Soft Enamel fill is achieved by a single layer of enamel being placed into the recesses of the badge so the effect is a little like valleys and mountain ridges meaning that once the enamel has dried, there is a contoured feel to the surface of the pin as you run you finger over it and the dips and ridges of the metal create different effects in direct light with shadows and reflections.
“Hey Bob” I hear you ask, “is one type tougher than the other and what about the cost?” While a Soft Enamel Pin Badge is durable, the Hard Enamel Pin is more hard-wearing due to the process that brings it to life. The upshot is that Soft Enamel Pins are less expensive than Hard Enamel Pin Badges. Both styles of Pin Badge however, produce fantastic colouring, allow Pantone colour matching and make treasured and lasting mini pieces of Art.
As well as with our pin badges, we use the Hard and Soft Enamelling process on our Key Rings, Medals, Cufflinks, Magnets, Tie Bars and Coins. You can see more examples of Hard and Soft Enamelled Pins and products by clicking here. Our Team are happy to advise and help, so feel free to put your questions to them.
Thanks for reading and - mystery solved 😊
People have all kinds of uses for pin badges and reasons for having them made - it’s a really interesting part of our work at Badge Base… inevitably there is a narrative behind the badge. I caught up with Richard very recently to find out more about the story of his design.
This particular badge started off life as a piece of artwork which was borne out of Richard’s desire to do something to recognise the amazing work of the Emergency Services following events which unfolded in London on 22 March 2017. His design featured a monochrome version of the Union Jack and just two words ‘Emergency Services’. Under the text, Richard had symbolised each of the three rescue services as a thin green electrocardiogram line representing the NHS, a thin blue line - a mark of respect for fallen Police Officers and finally a red flame acknowledging the UK Fire and Rescue Service.
Richard had received a great response to his design with feedback which was overwhelming. This caused him to consider the creation of a pin badge to enable people to show their support for the Emergency Services by wearing the design. When Richard got in touch with us to investigate this, we were able to provide several possibilities for him.
These Pin Badges - a tribute to the Emergency Services, are now being sold to raise funds for Air Ambulance as their work supports all three emergency services. You can find this unique design as an Offset Print Pin Badge for sale at https://www.pixearl.com/charity where £2.00 from every badge sold is donated to Air Ambulance, a service which relies entirely upon the generosity of public donations to fund their work.
Do drop by there and have a look.