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What Are the Differences Between Hard and Soft Enamel Pins?



What Are the Differences Between Hard and Soft Enamel Pins?

If you’re looking for pins to promote your business, as a gift for a friend, or commemorate an achievement, you may be wondering about the best enamel pin for the occasion. But there are a few types to choose from, specifically hard and soft enamel pins. Read more to find out the differences between them and how to pick the best one for your purposes. 

So What’s the Difference?

The difference between hard and soft enamel pins is that hard enamel pins are made via a lengthier process and the end product is smooth and level in terms of texture. Soft enamel pins, on the other hand, are manufactured through a simpler process and have more texture and differentiated edges as the enamel aren’t level with the metal. 

The Manufacturing Process

Hard enamel pins are manufactured by overfilling the cavities of the design with colored enamel, and baking after each color is added. Afterward, there’s the polishing step so that the enamel is on the same level as the metal. Lastly, there’s electroplating, which adds a veneer of metal over the metal edges, but only shiny metal colors work for this such, as silver and gold. 

Soft enamel pins are electroplated first, and any color can be added. This is because they aren’t polished, as doing so would strip the colored dye. Then the cavities are filled but only partially, which leads to the raised edges after baking as the metal isn’t level with the enamel. 

When You Should Choose Hard Enamel 

One major determinant of whether you should go for hard or soft enamel is your budget. Because hard enamel pins require a longer process, they’re more expensive.

But they also have a higher quality feel, which makes them a good choice for badges of honor or other high-level achievements. In addition to this, they’re very durable and scratch-resistant. 

That said, because of the manufacturing process, they can’t accommodate more complex designs. They also don’t work as well with every design, as the lack of options for plating colors may lead to a contrast with the rest of the color palate.

If you’re looking for a higher quality and fancier type of pin, a hard enamel pin will be a better bet. 

When You Should Choose Soft Enamel

For those looking for custom enamel pins as a gag gift for Halloween, or something to put on your backpack or jacket, a soft enamel pin might be better. They’re much cheaper, there are more options for colors and customization, and they can accommodate more complex designs. However, they’re not as durable, so they’re more likely to get scratched or damaged. 

What To Look for When Buying Enamel Pins

When you’re looking to buy enamel pins, certain things impact the quality of the final product. As you’re designing the artwork for the pin and examining the finished result, here are some things to look for that will impact how well the design will translate to a pin or are signs that they’re not of premium quality. 

1. Legibility

Some designs don’t scale as well as others, meaning the design will be difficult to read or see if it’s too small. The opposite is true as well, where a design becomes stretched or distorted if it’s made into a pin that’s too large.

For smaller pins, it’s best to go with very simplistic and less detailed designs, while large pins will give you more options on how detailed and complex a design can be. 

You should also consider the color palate for the design. Light text on a light background is less likely to be legible, and the same goes for dark text on a dark background. Additionally, strong colors will work best as they’re easier to see from farther away.

Be sure when you’re choosing a design, or making one yourself, that the colors of the design are compatible with the scale of the pin. 

The lines of the design can also determine how legible the pin will be. Because the enamel is poured according to the lines, shading and other techniques like it won’t translate well. More simplistic designs that are cleaner will turn out more clear and easily understandable. 

2. The Quality of the Enamel

Imperfections and inconsistencies between pins in a single batch are common. But there are some specifics to look out for.

First, you should make sure that the enamel is clean. Look for any imperfections or discolorations, especially in lighter-colored pins. You should also look closely for any specks of dust or dirt. 

Second, all of the insides of the design should be filled. For hard enamel pins, this mistake would be more obvious, as the enamel should be completely level with the metal. For soft enamel pins, look closely to see if any sections have more or less enamel than the rest.  

3. Electroplating Quality

If you’ve ordered a pin with a specific color for the plate, make sure the color matches. Shades of certain colors like gold may differ from one manufacturer to the next, so you should also take this into account. You should inspect the plate for any marks, nicks, or spots where the plate has been damaged as well. 

Gift Someone an Enamel Pin Today

Whether you choose soft or hard enamel pins for your needs is up to you. If having a luxury product is more important, then the best choice will be hard enamel. But for enamel pins designed for expressing a part of your personality in daily use, a soft enamel pin will do the trick.

Regardless of your choice, be sure to do your research and buy from a qualified and reputable seller. And be sure to check out our other posts for more lifestyle and fashion information.