Pin Manufacture

There are several methods of pin production each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Cloisonné Semi-Cloisonné Soft Enamel Photo Etched
Base Metal

Copper

Copper or Brass

Copper or Brass

Brass

Stamping

Die-struck

Die-struck

Die-struck

Photo-etched

Colour Material

Coloured powdered glass

Coloured resin

Enamel paint

Enamel paint

Surface

Hard, flat, smooth

Hard, flat, smooth

Raised edges unless covered by epoxy resin identified as a dome across the pin

Raised edges (less evident than soft enamel pin)

Manufacture

Individual colours are hand applied one or two at a time and baked until hard at 800F

As for cloisonné pins apart from colour being epoxy resin rather than glass

Paint is applied by hand, but in one go rather than one colour at a time

Several images of the same design are coloured and baked. Covered with a clear epoxy coating for protection

Advantages

Durable and scratch resistant

Valued by collectors

Perceived value similar to cloisonné

More colours available than cloisonné

Shorter production time than cloisonné

Greater scratch resistance than cloisonné

Less expensive than cloisonné

More colours available than cloisonné

Shorter production time than cloisonné

Greater pin design detail than cloisonné

Maximum pin design detail

Shortest production time

Cheapest to produce

Disadvantages

Expensive to produce

Least amount of pin design detail

Fewest colours available

Longest production time

Glass can be chipped if hit hard enough

Less scratch resistant than cloisonné

Can be confused with cloisonné

Perceived value less than cloisonné

Chips can occur unless covered with resin

White colour can 'yellow' over time

Thinner than other pins

Lower perceived value than other pins

Less durable than other pins

The manufacturer has a number of methods to produce a pin, but they break down into 3 main areas...

Stamping

An actual size drawing of the pin is used to cut 3 steel templates or dies. One for the shape, one for the design and one for the backstamp. Following this, squares of the base metal are cut and the dies used to stamp the front and back designs and then cut the shape (removing excess metal) around the design. This results in a metal pin with raised metal edges on the pin surface. These edges then enclose and retain the colour to be applied in the next stage.

Colouring

The design is coloured using either enamel paint, powdered glass or coloured resin. Depending on the design and the material to be used a single colour or multiple colours are applied and then baked until dry. In soft-enamel or photo-etched pins, all of the colours are applied in one go and baked at apporximately 100F until dry. In the cloisonné process where powdered glass is used, individual colours are applied and baked at 800F. In the semi-cloisonné process coloured resins are applied one or two at a time and baked until hard.

Finishing

Each pin is polished to remove excess glass or paint and for soft-enamel or photo-etched pins, a clear epoxy coating is applied to protect the colours from scratching. Then the finding post (or pin) is attached with glue or solder. Finally, the pin may be plated to give the metal areas a consistent bright nickel (silver looking), bronze or gold finish.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the '1996 Olympic Games Countdown - The Official Book of Olympic Games Pin Collecting' for assistance in providing the information on this page

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