A die is made from the art that you approve. That die will be used to stamp an image of our art into either iron, copper, brass. The areas that create an impression in the metal craft product can be used to hold a soft enamel or hard enamel paint. The stamped material varies in price but iron is usually the cheapest and the material that we use the most for our die struck pins. Iron is also the hardest to work. The die is secured to a press with a rating of up to 1000 ton or more. The die violently and with a great amount of force strikes the material and creates the areas to hold the paint. Due to the amount of force required to stamp out the product there are size constraints on the size and thickness of die struck metal craft products. The largest metal craft product that can be stamped is about 2″ and no more than 2mm in thickness for iron product. However with brass or copper, because it is softer, can create slightly larger product and up to 3mm thick. After the product is stamped it will be polished and plated. The next step, if the product is to have color, is for it to visit the paint department where the areas stamped out in the metal craft product will be filled with paint, per the customer’s art.
Imitation hard enamel or epola is a much safer technique than the traditional Cloisonné metal craft product. The imitation hard enamel has a similar look and hardens with a flat finish. The traditional Cloisonné process requires that instead of paint, glass crystals are used to fill the areas stamped out of the metal craft product and are fired to their melting point. This is rarely performed as it is more labor intensive, dangerous, and very expensive. After the paint has hardened the presentation surface of the metal craft product is sanded flat and polished.
Soft enamel is just what it sounds like. It’s a soft paint that is filled / injected in the areas of the metal craft product that hold paint. The paint will not be flush with the ridges of the metal craft product and allows you to feel the texture of the product. In most cases you can add an epoxy dome to seal and protect the soft enamel from scratching. The epoxy dome will give your pin a smooth glass like look to the surface of the pin and you will not feel the texture of the product.
Your artwork is converted into a mould which will be used to cast the product into a zinc alloy. Then the pin will be plated with either gold, silver, bass, black nickel, copper or antique finish. The indentations left behind from the die casting process are then filled with enamel paint to the colors of your choice. Each pin is individually painted by hand using highly specialized fine–tipped syringes. The raised metal areas are then cleaned of any paint. Because the product is cast and the material is easily workable a much lower temperatures than most melted metals. We are able to provide pins as large as 10″ and pins with 3 dimensional features.
A photo etched metal craft product should not be confused with the metal craft product looking like a photograph. Nothing could be further from the truth. A photo etched pin and a die struck pin can look very similar, the only difference is the method by which the metal craft product is made. A photo etched pin is created by first taking a piece of brass and chemically etching the design into the product. Photo etched pins used to be the standard and most cost effective method about a decade ago, but not today due to the cost of the chemical, labor and additional materials. Photo etched pins have been replaced with the die struck pin. After the desired design is achieved the chemicals are washed from the metal craft product and it is polished and plated. The next step, if the product is to have color, is for it to visit the paint department were the areas stamped out in the metal craft product will be filled with paint, per the customer’s art.
Silk Screen Printed
A screen printed metal craft product is where the art design for the product has many layers that can be broken down into a color per layer. Screen printed products do not show the base metal lines unless the screens have been designed to show them. There is separate charge for the screens and a shape fee to punch out the product from stock material. However, if you need fine detail on your metal craft product, it is possible screen print those details. Screen printed metal craft products really need an epoxy dome to protect the screen printed material.
An offset printed metal craft product is a digitally printed design that is placed on either a flat gold (brass plated) or silver (nickel plated) surface. The digital printed design is not limited to a specific color per area and instead every pixel color and fade or blend in your art design. Unfortunately you are limited to a maximum thickness of 2mm and the base metal must be gold (brass), silver (nickel), or copper. The surface and printed image must be protected with an epoxy dome.