How to make enamel pins-zinc alloy material

When you have enamel pins need production, the standard procedure is contacting with your manufacturer, ask them to quote based on your design and requirements.  After your order is confirmed with manufacturer, do you know how your pins are exactly manufactured out step by step?

Welcome to read my this article telling you how zinc alloy material enamel pins are manufactured in Jiayue Pins our factory

1 Order confirmation

From factory point of view, pin production begins with receiving a request for quotation from customers. When customers send requirements by email or by online quote request form, a sales person in pins factory replies with a quotation. In this quotation, pins size, plating, posts and designs, qty,etc. are mentioned. After customers agree the quotation, payment is made through PayPal or bank transfer, and pins factory begins to prepare the artwork proof.

2 Artwork proof preparation

Artwork proof/mockup is a document showing all details such as the design, the process: hard enamel or soft enamel, plating requirement, all Pantone solid color numbers, contents need to be printed, back logo, back posts location, whether need epoxy or laser printing, glow in dark, etc. With this artwork, the customer knows how the finished product will look like or should look like. When everything is correct, customer approves the artwork, then real production begins.

pins mockup

3 Molds preparation

The artwork document is sent to a mold engraving machine for molds preparation. There are two kinds of mold, one is iron mold, which is mainly used to punch iron material pins, coins and medals,etc. The other kind is zinc alloy mold, which is mainly used to make zinc alloy pins. The selection of material is mainly decided by the product shape, complexity,etc. This article talks about zinc alloy pins production.

On the mold engraving machine, front mold, which displays the front side of pins, is cut out by program controlled cutting knives. When pins have back logo, then back mold is also engraved, the finished molds looks like this.

Pins engraving machine

lapel pins molds

4 Blank pins production

When pin design has irregular shape, it is more suitable to use zinc alloy material to make. For zinc alloy material pins, the pin shape forming process is achieved by a zinc alloy die-casting machine.

The front mold is put at one side of a zinc alloy die-casting machine, the back mold at the other side. When high temperature liquid-like zinc alloy is injected into the space between front and back molds under high pressure, the pin shape is formed.

zinc alloy pins injection

pins production steps

After pins are cooled down, blank pins are separated and collected one by one. Now new lapel pins are born:)

Then the pins edges are cleaned, burrs are eliminated for next step.

5 Fix spur needles

Next step is fix spur needles, or posts. On this machine, the spur needles are fixed on the back of pins. After this step, the pin looks like this.

Pins spur fixing

For hard enamel pin, the next step is colorizing, then plating and printing, then packing. For soft enamel pins, the next step is plating, then colorizing and printing, then packing.

Let’s follow the hard enamel pin production steps.

6 Colorizing

For small quantity orders, pins are normally colorized by hand. In order to avoid colors mix with each other, at one time, only one color can be put on the pin. After finish one color, pins are placed into an oven for more than 2 hours to make the first color dry.

pins coloring

lapel pins baking

Then take out, place another color, placed into oven again for another 2 hours. This process repeats until all colors are there and dried. This is why lapel pin cost is higher when it has more colors. The more colors, the more labor force, longer production time, more electricity, etc. are consumed.

After all colors are ready and dryed, the pins look like this.

pins handmade

finished pins

For big quantity orders, auto colorizing machines are used to speed up the production.

7 Polishing

After hard enamel pins are colorized and dryed, they are sent on scouring wheels for initial cleaning ,then polished on polishing wheels to make them shine.

pins polishing

enamle pins polishing

8 Plating

After polishing, the pins are sent for plating. These pins are required to be black nickel plated, pins are put into pools filled with black nickel liquid, then with the reaction of electrolysis, the positive ion of black nickel is attached on the surface of metal lapel pins. After plating, now these pins look like this:

pins plating

gold plated pins

9 Screen printing

As this pin has two colors need to be screen printed, here is the screen printing process. Each time only one color is printed, then dryed for next color printing. After screen printing, now these hard enamel pins look like this and they are almost ready.

pins under screen printing

screen printed pins

10 Final quality check and packing

During production, before starting each next step, pins are checked with the artwork proof. After production is finished, each pin is final checked again. When there is no problem, then clutches are attached and every pin is put into one OPP bag, then placed into bigger bags. To protect our environment, now more and more bio-degradable paper bags are used by customers.

Pins quality checking

Pins clutches

lapel pins packing

enamel pins packing

11 Delivery

Small qty orders are packed into FedEx bags, bigger quantity pins are packed into cartons, then they are sent by FedEx, DHL or other courier companies. For big quantity orders, pallets are used and they are sent out by sea.

Pins package

pins delivery

Above is the production steps of zinc alloy pins. For die-struck iron pins, medals, coins, police badges,etc, the production steps are slightly different, the main difference is the pins forming process. Details welcome to check our aother article: How to make enamel pins-iron material.

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