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 I 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 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 😊