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Posted May 25, 2020
| Cheappins | Learn About Lapel Pins
How Thick are Custom Lapel Pins?
Custom lapel pins range in thickness from .7mm to 2mm. The thicker the pin, the higher the perceived quality of the custom pin. Standard enamel pins that are .75 to 1.5-inch size will range from 1.2 to 1.5mm thick. Standard offset printed pins that are .75 to 1.5-inch size will range from .7 to 1.2mm thick.
The bigger the pin the thicker the metal. Baseball trading pins are typically 1.5 to 3 inches in size and therefore will range from 1.5 to 2mm thick. A suit lapel pin is typically 1 inch in size and therefore will range from 1.2 to 1.5mm thick.
Some customers order custom lapel pins for resell and choose to produce all their pins in a thicker 2mm thickness regardless of the size to increase the perceived quality. The higher perceived quality the higher the price they can charge. Surprisingly, the thicker the pin, the heavier it feels even on such a small item.
Custom lapel pins are made of brass, copper or iron so at 1.2mm thick they definitely will not bend or break.
Offset printed pins on the other hand are often made of aluminum and many factories make them at .7mm thickness to save money. These pins look and feel cheap and will bend much easier. Cheappins never makes their offset printed pins .7mm thick. We have specified to our factories to always use 1.2mm thickness even on the offset printed pins.
Customized pin thickness is just one aspect of a custom lapel pin that you want to fully understand to ensure you get a good quality lapel pin. Below are 4 additional things to consider in order to get quality lapel pins.
Believe it or not pin thickness also factors into legibility. The thinner the metal, the shallower the depth of the enamel. If the enamel reservoir is to shallow, the enamel will not hold or not completely fill leaving portions of the pin non legible.
Lapel pins are made by stamping a mold or design into a thin (1.2mm) thick sheet of metal. It is stamped into the metal using a very strong press which applies pressure to the mold to press into the thin sheet. Often it requires 2 strikes of the press to get a firm indentation. If the design is not pressed deep enough the quality suffers.
By very nature you can then understand the thicker the metal, the deeper the impression, the more legible the pin.
There is really only one type of enamel, but two types of processes. Soft enamel is air dried and settles. Hard enamel is hardened by heat and polished smooth. Soft enamel has a rough texture, hard enamel has a smooth texture. Neither is poor quality; they are just different approaches to creating a lapel pin. Some people prefer soft enamel, some prefer hard enamel.
Just a few years ago, enamel pins were enameled by hand. Each color would be applied individually by a single person using a syringe. Once one color was completed it would move down the line to the next person using a new color.
Most of these workers are very good at what they do, but two things come into play. First, they are human and can put a color in the wrong spot. Second, newer workers are not as skill and may over or under fill a particular spot causing the enamel to not look at good.
Today, most custom pin factories use enameling machines. Pins are setup and the machine automatically knows what color goes where and dispenses the proper amount. But even machines can break or get out of sync, causing the enamel to damage.
Mistakes happen, but if you see a particular issue with the enamel over and over, more than likely this is a bigger quality issue at hand.
The nail should be centered left to right and a little offset toward the top of the pin. While this may seem simple, most people don’t consider it. Pin factories are good at knowing exactly where to place the nail. The purpose in offsetting the pin toward the top is to help it hang and not spin. With only one nail the pin is likely to twist some, but by offsetting it will usually keep it from spinning upside down.
Some customers like to put two nails on the back to prevent any twisting. However, because a pin puts a hole in clothing, most people stick to one nail unless the pin is 1.5 inch or bigger.
Lapel pins are made of a base metal, usually copper, brass or iron. Raw metal does not make for a pretty pin so a layer of gold or silver is applied to a pin to make it shine and sparkle. The process of applying the gold or silver is called electroplating. Essentially each pin is hung on a hook and dipped into a gold or silver bath. The bath is a liquid with gold or silver particles. By applying electromagnetic current it causes the particles to attach to the base metal. The longer the pin is in the bath the thicker the gold or silver plating.
If plating is done incorrectly or there is pollutants in the bath, the plating can go bad and peel off, or change color. If this happens more than likely there was a problem with the electroplating bath.
One thing to understand about custom lapel pins is they are considered costume jewelry quality which means the plating is about 10mil thick which his very thin. That means the plating could rub off if rubbed frequently over and over. Because pins do not generally get rubbed, 10mil is just fine for a pin. Jewelry on the other hand would have about 100mil of plating. A necklace may rub on a person’s skin over and over again so to prevent the plating from coming off it needs to be much thicker.
Custom lapel pins are little things, but have many little facets that affect the quality of the pin. Thickness, legibility, enamel quality, positioning of the nail, and the quality of the electroplating all factor into a good quality pin. Cheappins understands all these issues based on 20+ years in the industry and while our name is cheap, our pins are not.