Tooling for embossed nameplates

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By Chris Doyle | Jan 20, 2016
Embossed nameplate

As a nameplate manufacturer, GM Nameplate provides a wide range of decorative texture options. One component of building nameplates is embossing; the process of adding raised features to a part for either aesthetic or functional purposes. Cosmetically, embossing can add a 3 dimensional look and feel to the part. Functionally, this process can also add structure and texture to the nameplate. In order to emboss a part, the piece must be tooled and GMN offers three types of tooling to meet a variety of project needs. These three types include etch die tooling, cut die tooling, and coin embossing. Throughout this article, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each process.

To begin, an etch die is a chemical or laser etch done on metal, typically brass, magnesium or steel. This is a common method of tooling at GMN because it is fairly inexpensive, typically costing under $1000 for the tooling equipment. It also has a relatively quick lead time and isn’t limited in the amount of characters that can be embossed on the part. This means that it can handle a wide variety of project requirements. On the other hand, the etch die is limited in how high it can emboss characters. It is also 2 dimensional, meaning that all embossed features will be the same height, and is limited to thinner materials and smaller runs of 10,000 parts or less.

Next, the cut die is typically CNC cut or a pantograph on heat-treated steel, which is also known as class A or steel tooling. The advantages of cut die tooling include 3 dimensional capabilities and the technology to emboss smaller features with sharper radiuses. This method also allows for a long production life of over one million parts. With these advantages come a higher cost and longer tooling lead times depending on part complexity. The cut die can also cause the part material and top coat to stretch which can potentially create sharp embossed edges.

The third method of tooling is known as coin embossing, a process in which only one half of a tool has the part design and is used with a high-tonnage press. The advantages of this process include a lower tooling cost and the ability to use normal PSA adhesives because the part back is solid. This process is typically used for very specific applications because it is limited in decorative options.

Embossing is an important technology when building nameplates to add both texture and structure. Because our business was founded on the creation of nameplates, GMN is proud to provide a variety of embossing options. Stay tuned for another article featuring different nameplate finishing options to enhance part aesthetics.

Learn more in our next blog article: Nameplate decorating options