PIN BASICS
Carab Enterprises Is Your Best Source For Wholesale Custom Lapel Pins, Coins & Patches

Types Of Pins & Finishes

BASICS

Look closely at most lapel pins and you'll see fine gold or silver outlines surrounding each color. Now visualize a children's coloring book with the black outlines as raised metal. Instead of crayons, liquid color fills the white areas between the lines, which "trap" the colors and prevent them from running together. The image is then baked to harden the colors and produce the final product. The three types of pins shown below all use this basic process. These types above have a "jewelry" look, and due to their weight, feel solid resting in your hand.
 

 
Cloisonné was developed in China more than 1000 years ago. It is the fine art process of fusing colored mineral mosaics to a metal base by melting and firing powdered glass in a kiln. The baked design is then ground and polished to achieve a flat surface and an eye-catching luster. Since only natural minerals are used, the color selection is somewhat limited. Due to the natural instability of the minerals and the grinding process, this method is not the best for reproducing extremely fine details. Because of its durability, distinguished history and high perceived value, cloisonné (also know as Hard Enamel) is the most expensive type of pin to produce

 

Cloisenamel pins are a modern version of the original cloisonné. These pins are just as durable and indistinguishable from cloisonné to anyone but a jeweler. The ability to hold fine detail and availability of a complete PMS color selection are advantages of this type of pin. And due to less complex production and more readily available amterials, Cloisenamel pins (also known as Imitation Hard Enamel) are less expensive than their cloisonné cousin.

   
Stamped Enamel pins are an even more affordable alternative to the pins above. A softer enamel is used for color, which remains slightly recessed between the raised metal lines, giving the pin a more textured surface. A high-gloss epoxy coat can be used to achieve a smooth surface and imitate the look and feel of cloisonné or cloisenamel. A full selection of PMS color is available using soft enamel and the level of detail is about equal to that of cloisonné. For a more subtle look, the recessed areas of stamped pins can remain uncolored. Uncolored stamped pins are referred to as Die Struck.

 

OTHER PROCESSES

Photo Etched pins are photographic images that are acid etched, rather than stamped onto a metal base pin. They are able to hold a finer line than cloisonné or stamped pins. Thinner and lighter weight than the pins above, these pins are polished to a flat surface and may or may not be coated with epoxy or varnish.

   
Printed pins are used to reproduce photographs or when continuous coloring is needed. Since a raised metal line is not required between each color, unlike other processes, colors can touch each other and gradient color is possible. A printed piece of paper or vinyl is fused to the metal pin base and then coated with a thick epoxy or protective varnish. 4-Color Process printing is used when many colors and shades are needed. Silk-screening is used when fewer, more vibrant colors are needed. This feather-light weight pin will have a flat, high gloss surface. It can be printed edge-to-edge or have a metal border. Printed pins are very inexpensive in larger quantities and are often used for advertising, give-aways and trading.  
 

Soft PVC pins are relatively new to the market and very popular for a more whimsical look. These soft, flexible and lightweight pins are manufactured by mold injecting a rubber-like synthetic and baking the individual colored "puzzle pieces" into a final design. Soft PVC pins have a carved look, with recessed, rather than raised color separations and can be manufactured using several levels for a 3D look.

 

 

 
 

EYE-CATCHING VARIATIONS

Puzzle Pins are two separate pins, cut so that they can fit together to make a complete set. Two halves of a heart are a common example of a puzzle pin.

Danglers are a main pin that has a second emblem hanging by a chain or ring. Danglers are often used to add a year or level of achievement to the main pin. Several danglers may hang below each other, marking levels of achievement or more years of service or participation.

Bobblers are a main pin with a second emblem attached by a small spring, providing an effect similar to a bobble head doll.

Blinkers are a sure attention-getter. These pins with embedded flashing lights can be used to simulate eyes, traffic lights, etc.

Spinners have a second level attached above the main pin, using a pivot that allows the second level to freely spin like a wheel of chance or clock.

Sliders have a second level attached above the main pin, using a channel that allows the second level to move up and down or from side to side. An example of this type would be an ocean as the main pin, with a surf board as a second level sliding across the ocean.

Lenticular pins show depth, movement or transformation using a multifaceted surface, similar to vintage Cracker Jack prizes with changing pictures.

ADD DIMENSION

Bent Die pins are used to give the pin a slightly rounded appearance, such as a badge or half-ball.

Cubic pins are used when you need a shallow relief 3-dimensional pin with rounded details, such as a face or statue.

2-Level pins also are used to create a dimensional effect. A second emblem without a pin attached is welded to the lower level, creating a "stepped" 3-D look.

Cast pins are used for a variety of dimensional effects. This process is used for deep relief 3-dimensional designs and also when a delicate, intricately cut effect such as lace or a spider web is desired.

FINISHES

Gold, silver, nickel, black nickel, copper and brass plated finishes are standard finishes.

Antiquing is a darkening process, used on pins to make details stand out. The entire pin is chemically tarnished and then the raised areas are polished, making them lighter while leaving the recessed areas dark. Antiquing is most effectively used on uncolored pins.

Satin plating provides a softer, more sophisticated look to your pin. It is also used most effectively used on uncolored pins.

Sandblasting and Texturing provide a slighted "rough" matte finish to contrast background areas with the more shiny raised areas of gold or silver. Many other granular and patterned background textures are also available.

Epoxy and Varnish are high gloss coatings that that cover your pin. Epoxy is thick and slightly domed, while varnish is very thin and invisible. These finishes are necessary to protect the design of printed pins, but are not necessary (as often believed) to protect enameled pins. Some people prefer the glossy look of epoxy and varnished coatings, but we feel the pins maintain a higher quality "jewelry" effect without using them.

Gem Stones will add dimension and, of course, an extra elegance to your pin. The stone chips can be used just decoratively or as design elements to represent eyes, fire, etc. Stones are available in many sizes and colors, and can be glass, crystal or actual precious gems.

Glitter enamel can replace flat enamel to give areas of your pin or the entire pin an extra sparkle. 

Two-Tone Plating gives the richness of both gold and silver luster to your pins. This process is most effective when used on uncolored pins.

 

 

 

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