Wheelers Custom Made Medals Logo
Wheelers Custom Made Medals Logo

The Technical Bit !!

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Soft Enamel, Hard Enamel, Synthetic Hard Enamel - Which is Better ?

You may have thought that the very word Hard would mean that the process using Hard Enamel or Synthetic Hard Enamel would be better than Soft Enamel but this is not necessarily so.

To explain we first need to know how a Medal, Coin or Lapel Pin Badge is made.

From your design the production artwork is produced.

From your confirmation of the Production Artwork a Mold is made and the design is stamped out into Iron, a Metal Alloy or Brass material. In the stamping process raised and recessed areas are formed for the various colours of the design to recieve the enamel colouring.

Each colour is added individually by using a syringe to fill the recessed areas.

Hard Enamel:

In the Hard Enamel Process the colouring is added to the recessed areas so that the recessed areas fill flush to the raised levels. The product is baked at a high temperature and then machine polished so that the colours and raised metal are flush with each other. Hard enamel is only available in selected colours.

Synthetic Hard Enamel:

The Synthetic Hard enamel process is a similar process and finish to Hard enamel but with synthetic colouring which can be pantone matched. Synthetic or Imitation Hard enamel was introduced to the industry in the 1990's as a more economical process to the traditional Hard Enamel process and as the need for pantone colour matching to logos and designs was required. We use Synthetic Hard Enamel instead of Hard Enamel because it is a more reasonable cost to produce, the finish is very similar but we can match pantone colours with the Synthetic Hard Enamel process which we cannot do with Hard Enamel.

Soft Enamel:

Soft Enamel is an Industry term referring to the technique and the finished process. There is nothing Soft about Soft Enamel ! In the Soft Enamel Process the colour is added to the recessed areas but to a level that is slightly beneath the level of the raised metal giving a feel to the design. More than 90% of the Medals, Coins and Lapel Pin Badges that we supply are made with the Soft Enamel process. We believe that a soft enamel finsih gives dimension, texture and character to a Custom made Bespoke product, which in turn gives the product surface characteristics that you can feel.

So is Hard Enamel or Synthetic Hard enamel better than Soft Enamel?

In our opinion we feel this is not the case.

Which will last longer?

Again it is our experience that neither will out perform the other. It is a personal choice as to whether you wish to have a textured finish (Soft Enamel) or a Smooth finish (Hard Enamel). However you can still have a Smooth finish using a Soft Enamel process by adding an epoxy to the surface.

2D or 3D Designs.

2D is the most 'economical' and the most common type of Medal, Coin and Lapel Pin Badge that we make. When an Medal, Coin or Lapel Pin Badge is referred to as being 2D, it means that there are only 2 heights of surfaces,

1. The Lower surface, or background or Recessed area

2. The upper surface, foreground or Raised Area.

Almost any type of design can be very well reproduced in 2D - especially using what is called an 'antique' finish to maximize the contrast between the polished foreground and darkened background. The raised areas are flat surfaces that can be polished during production. The raised areas have straight edges being at right angle to the recessed areas. The recessed area can be textured or a darker antique finish added or colour-filled depending on the design and finish requirements.

The thickness of the 2D process is either 2.5 mm, 3 mm or 4 mm. 2D Medals, Coins and Lapel Pin Badges are more economical to manufacture and can be produced in a shorter time frame.

3D is basically made of Sculptured Heights: The 3D process incorporates slopes and curves on many different levels to provide a unique coin or medal. Instead of the raised surface being straight up and down – all surfaces and profiles can be rounded and sculptured to maximize the realistic effect. 3D is more expensive to manufacture than 2D and the time scale can be longer.

3D medal side view section
3D medal side view section
2D Medal Side View Section
2D Medal Side View Section
GOZO Marathon Medal
GOZO Marathon Medal
Retro Skate Medal
Retro Skate Medal

2D Medal.

3D Medal