Those ubiquitous lapel pins are everywhere, but have you ever wondered how they are made? They may seem commonplace and ordinary as everyday objects, but once you learn about the meticulous process that goes into making them; from designing, molding, stamping, soldering, polishing, plating, coloring to packaging, you will greatly appreciate each finished piece as a work of art.
The process starts with choosing a pin design. Work with the pin manufacturer in choosing the best type of materials and finish that will go well with your chosen design. The best types of materials used in pin making are as follows:
Cloisonne has the highest quality. This technique has been used for centuries, since the time of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, to decorate jewelries. In the 14th century it spread to China, where they perfected the art of embellishing large vessels such as vases and teapots.
Soft Enamel is comparable to cloisonne, but is less expensive. It is a good alternative for those who want a beautiful glossy finish at an affordable price.
Die struck is a great choice if you want your pin to have an engraved sophisticated all metal look. The result is a clean, understated yet elegant looking pin.
Off-set digital is a method similar to the one used in printing magazines. Pins with very complex, detailed designs such as paintings or photographs, requiring an unlimited number of colors, are best made using this method.
Photo etched enamel is similar to the soft enamel method. But photo etching works best with far more detailed designs because it allows a wider spectrum of colors to choose from. The resulting pin also weighs amazingly lighter.
Silk-screen is a process also used to create images on T-shirts. Blocks of color are applied one at a time. Although similar to the off-set digital process,silk-screen is the best option when specific requirements have to be met, such as in company logos and trademarks.
The final pin design is inked and colored and transferred to a sheet, marked with the specifications of size and features. The pin manufacturer then makes a mold based on the outline of the pin.
The mold will be placed on a machine and will be used to stamp the individual pins onto a metal sheet. Copper or brass is softer and more pliable which makes it easier to stamp elaborate designs.
In the final stage, the copper or brass metals are plated with a more durable metal such as nickel, silver, gold and platinum depending on the chosen design and budget.
The required attachments are applied to each pin and the finishing touches are made. The pins are then polished, colored and checked for quality before they are packaged and shipped to the customer.
Want more bling and pizzazz on your pins? As far as pin collectors are concerned, there are extra features that add value and appeal to pins.
Danglers are little charm-like objects, such as bells, jewels or tiny figures that hang from a small hoop on the bottom of the pins. They dangle which makes for a highly noticeable pin.
Slider is what you call a piece of metal attached at the bottom of the pins. This attached piece can slide back and forth for extra fun.
Spinner is a movable piece is attached by a bolt or screw through the center to the pins. This attachment works like a pinwheel, spinning round and round.
Blinker refers to the battery-powered LED light added at the back of the pin. This makes your pin stand out even more. However, batteries are not replaceable, it may stop working once batteries run out.