So, you want to make pin badges?

Roger Adams How to make pin badges Soft and hard enamel

If you've never made bespoke or custom pin badges, this is the blog post for you!

In this blog post, we will cover soft enamel and hard enamel pin badges.

Sounds complicated, but I promise, you only need to know which is right for your project, and I am here to walk you through the process. 

Who am I? I am Roger, owner and general busy-body of PinPals, along side my two pets, Beau and Arrow.

Lets start from the beginning! Here is a video that we made that shows some of the process

Soft Enamel

Our most popular product, soft enamel. These can be made from a variety of metals depending on the style you're wanting to make. I don't want to over confuse the process, but 99% of the time, you will not need to know the metal of your pin, and we rarely confirm it, unless a customer specifically asks.

  • Brass - simple designs, no cut outs
  • Iron - slightly more complex design, one or two small cut outs in the design
  • Zinc Alloy - Complex designs, with cut outs, angular shapes and more detail.

Again, the above information is slightly overkill, but people love to know, and I believe in providing people with lots of information.

The same metals and process exists for Hard Enamel too.

So what is a soft enamel pin badge? Great question! When the badge is moulded, and struck from the mould, it has a raised outline, the enamel paint then sits within those recessed, and the outline is raised. This gives a 3D depth to the item, and is usually best for cartoon style designs, logo's work great as well as text based designs suit the raised edges, and the inlaid paint.

So, you've made a design, how does the process work? I will use my own artworks as an example to give you an idea on how it will work from design, to implementation, to final product.

This is my logo, that we will be turning in to a pin badge:

Custom Soft and hard enamel pin badges

Now as you can see, its a circular logo, with a blue background, originally created as a CMYK logo for print, with gold text. To make this work as a pin badge, every single colour, has to sit in an outline - this outline is the raised metal. For the logo above, I wanted the text to be raised metal, so I can show case how each style looks with raised metal.

So the factory will then provide a visual mock up, of the designed logo above, with the correct outline in place (you can provide your artwork already outlined if you wish) and they will make it in several platings to give you an idea.


Custom enamel pin badges

We use pantone as the colour palette for enamel pins, as this is the most universally accepted colour scheme for physical items. We will convert for you to your closest pantone colour, but we suggest triple checking for clarity.

Now the finished item:

This is a black dye soft enamel pin badge. Black dye can be coloured to any Pantone colour you wish, making your outlines different colours is always a great example.

Here are some more finishes:


Silver Soft Enamel Pin

Antique Gold:

We will do a side by side comparison for hard and soft later on in the blog.

Hard Enamel

So, you're an expert in soft enamel, what about hard? It's all about preference and art style, if you have a design where you'd like black outlines, and a cartoony / simpler look, custom hard enamel pins won't work for you, you can only have dyed metal with soft enamel. 

However, hard enamel, has a more premium finish to it. The item is moulded the same way, plated the same way, but the difference is the finish of the item. Hard enamel is polished flat, it has no raised outline, the whole item is completely flat.

Hard Enamel can be plated any colour, that is a metal colour:

  • Rose Gold
  • Bronze
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Black Nickel

The differences with hard vs soft enamel, is that the level of detail with a hard enamel pin can match soft enamel, but with one difference, is that when the hard enamel pin is polished flat, this can cause some of the lines to thicken, causing them to look slightly thicker than the initial design, so this is something to consider when you design your artwork, anything with super fine lines less than .5mm will bleed and will be thicker than initially expected. Soft Enamel does not have this problem.

Hard enamel examples of my logo are attached below.

Rose Gold:

Black Nickel:
I hope this helps answer some of your questions, and I appreciate the length of this blog is pretty tiresome, but I hope you've enjoyed it. If you do have any further questions, or you'd like us to assess your artwork and make a recommendation, please do let us know!

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