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Brushed Aluminum Look on Plastic Labels

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Thu, Apr 24, 2014

Brushed Aluminum

Brushed aluminum is a common background for nameplates and brand identification. This is a decorating process where a sheet of aluminum passes beneath a coarse brush head to create the linear finish. It can be applied selectively as well as at varying angles to create movement and visual depth to the surface of the aluminum. Layers and different angles of brush result in dimensional background finishes. Brushed aluminum can increase perceived value for the end product because it provides a finished look.

Brushed Aluminum Look on Plastic Labels

Plastic substrates such as polycarbonate and chrome polyester (Mylar®) can give the appearance of aluminum. These materials can be purchased with a brushed finish and then decorated to look like metal. Brushed polycarbonate and brushed chrome polyester cannot be applied selectively or layered for dimensional looks. They are useful to dress up a plastic label.

Each of the labels below have taken advantage of the brushed finish in the flexible material and enhanced that with decoration to showcase the brand with elegance and durability.

NuTone brushed look

Cool Sculpting brushed look


Ramsey Winch brushed look

Biode ViscNet brushed look

Can your brand identification use a brushed finish? Let's find out!

Namplate Samples, Aluminum Nameplates, Plastic Labels

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4 Ways to Make a Flat Aluminum Nameplate Stand Out

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, Apr 22, 2014

A common question when working with companies to develop attention-grabbing nameplates and emblems is how to make a flat aluminum nameplate stand out without incurring additional tooling expense? Designers and buyers alike look for cost effective solutions. Below are some options which keep cost provide the end result of catching the eye of a customer.

Aluminum Nameplate Decoration

1. Use contrasting opaque or metallic color background with bright aluminum or transparent color graphics. Visual depth is achieved by the aluminum reflecting light in the bright or transparent areas. 

selective gloss aluminum nameplate

silver metallic with transparent tint aluminum

2. Use selective brushed aluminum. The bright areas catch the light. When varying directions of brush is used a bevel look can be achieved.

selective brushed aluminum nameplate

brushed aluminum with bright graphicsblue metallic with multi-direction brush aluminum

3. Use Spun or Engine Striped aluminum background with opaque or transparent colors for detail. Movement in the aluminum creates interest and the illusion of height.

     spun aluminum nameplate, golf club insert


engine stripe aluminum, motorcycle badge 

4. Use a drop shadow behind opaque graphics.  Dimension is achieved through the look of multiple levels.


drop shadow aluminum nameplate

drop shadow brushed aluminum nameplate

Possibilities exist for flat aluminum nameplates to maximize the decoration processes and keep tooling investment at a minimum. Simple combinations and contrasts can result in value-added impressions for your brand awareness. 

Related Articles 

Contrast with Metallic Inks
Understanding Mechanical Finishes on Aluminum Nameplates
5 Options to Achieve Dimension for Aluminum Nameplates

How will your next nameplate design stand out from the competition? Let's find out!

Namplate Samples, Aluminum Nameplates, Plastic Labels

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Black Texture on Aluminum Namplates

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, Apr 01, 2014

Black texture aluminum nameplateBlack and near-black finishes on aluminum was the focus of an article last week on our Design Surfaces on Aluminum Blog. This post has had quite a bit of interest with requests for more information on the types of finishes available as well as seeing black finishes in application. As a result, I thought I'd share this quick video compilation with some great examples of aluminum nameplates which have made use of interesting black finishes. In this, you'll see brands represented from motorcycles and medical equipment to golf clubs and boats. Enjoy!

Ready for more discussion? Great! Let's talk!

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3 Reasons to Use Texture with Aluminum Nameplates

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Thu, Jan 16, 2014

Aluminum Nameplates and Trim Decorated with Texture

Taking a look through the many examples of aluminum nameplates and the processes used to create attractive branding, I found it interesting the number of them which have selected to use texture. It is a process that is compatible with a variety of applications and markets including cosmetic compact covers, motorcycle emblems, computer equipment, medical equipment and appliance trim. Why should texture be an option to decorate nameplates, labels and trim? Here are three reasons:

1.  Texture adds interest and dimension to backgrounds.

2.  Texture can call attention to a specific area or accent borders in place of embossed details. 

3.  Texture can be customized as a pattern across the surface of the nameplate or trim piece, showing off your brand.

Each of the nameplates shown below use texture for decoration. The brand image is enhanced, resulting in attractive ways to differentiate from other products in that market.

textured aluminum nameplates

Can you find a way to use texture in your nameplate design? 

Namplate Samples, Aluminum Nameplates, Plastic Labels

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20 Awesome Pierced Aluminum Nameplates, Labels and Tags

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, Nov 12, 2013

pierced aluminum hang tag

Pierced Aluminum Nameplates and Labels

Piercing is a tooling operation which creates openings in the decorated aluminum for backlit graphics, LED lights, buttons or other mechanisms to be functional. Another reason to include a pierce operation into your nameplate design is to allow the label to be used as a decorative hang tag and draw attention to your brand. Yet another need for piercing is to enable attachment with rivets or screws in lieu of adhesive or needing a carrier to snap into the product housing.

Pierce operations can be found in tooling across the industrial world. Appliance trim, home electronics, point of purchase promotions, packaging accessories, sporting equipment, and vehicle instrumentation panels all use pierced and decorated aluminum in some fashion.

Take a stroll through these twenty totally awesome pierced aluminum nameplates. Enjoy!



Namplate Samples, Aluminum Nameplates, Plastic Labels

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18 Impressive Oval Shaped Nameplates

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, Sep 17, 2013

Oval Shape

Next to the circle and square, an oval is one of the most common shapes for aluminum and plastic nameplates. Oval shaped nameplates and emblems can be found in just about any industry and on any product - including medical equipment, electronics and furniture. Review options in flat or 3D stock dies or provide your dimensions for a custom tool. Here are examples of 18 brands which use the oval shape. Enjoy!

Oval Shape Collage


What is your favorite shape to use for branding? Share your thoughts below!

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20 Inspiring Tiny Nameplates and Labels

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Thu, Aug 22, 2013

Great things come in small packages. The same can be said when considering the size of your branding. A small sized product does not leave much room to incorporate a logo or name. Yet brand recognition is an important aspect to the design. Don't worry! Small nameplates and labels don't have to present a challenge - use the size as opportunity to grab attention and stand apart. 

Cosmetic caps, electronic devices, eyewear or fishing rods can showcase a product name with precision and sharp detail. Decoration with emboss, doming or mechanical finishes create premium looks.

Here are 20 examples of aluminum nameplates and plastic labels which are tiny, but present each brand effectively. Enjoy!

tiny nameplates2

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16 Attractive Appliance Badges and Overlays

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, Aug 06, 2013

Household Appliance Branding

Household appliances showscase some high profile brands. When the product is upscale, the branding requires high perceived value and oftentimes enhances the buying experience. Attractive aluminum and stainless steel nameplates and badges as well as polycarbonate overlays or snap-in labels complement the product design.

Decorating processes using mechanical finishes and transparent tints on aluminum or velvet textured polycarbonate help to complete the design. Some considerations to keep in mind when designing for an applicance include choosing the appropriate substrate, frequency of appliance use, temperature, environment and overall look of the end product to differentiate from other brands.

 appliance nameplates and badges

How can we help you make your nameplate stand out? 

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9 Examples of Tabbed Aluminum or Stainless Steel Nameplates

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, Jul 30, 2013

One option for attachment of your nameplate or badge is tabs, created during the tooling phase of production. Tabs can be used in aluminum and stainless steel nameplates as locators and to help with alignment. Combine with pressure sensitive or foam adhesive for secure bond to your product. Or let the tabs work with your housing as functional snap-in components. Industries from computers to furniture, medical equipment to telecommunciations have taken advantage of tabs for attachment method.

Here is an assortment of aluminum and stainless steel emblems which utilize tabs.  Enjoy!

embossed and tabbed aluminum   tabbed aluminum with sandblast finishembossed and tabbed aluminum with pressure sensitive adhesiveembossed aluminum with snap-in tabs

embossed aluminum trim with tabs

embossed aluminum with tabsembossed aluminum with sandblast finish and tabs

embossed stainless steel with tabsembossed aluminum with tabs


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5 Options to Achieve Dimension for Aluminum Nameplates

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Thu, Jul 25, 2013

Dimension without Additional Tooling 

A common question that is asked with many designs is how can we make this nameplate so that it pops and shows dimension without adding tooling expense?    Indeed the addtional operations to incorporate an embossed graphic, a beveled edge or a raised border can be a tooling cost driver.  What do you do when you need to keep tooling investment at a minimum but you want a premium 3-D look? Don't worry - there are decorating options and processes that can get you dimension while keeping your costs at a minimum.


1 - Half tones printed over multi-direction or selective brushing on aluminum
Effective for a bevel look on borders and useful to make graphics appear to pop up from the surface of the part.  

   aluminum half tones on nameplates    

2 - Low gloss or metallic background with high gloss graphics on aluminum
Effective for visual depth and dimensional contrast between graphics and background decoration.  This draws attention to a logo or select graphics.

aluminum selective bright graphics

3 - Selective undercoats of color on aluminum
Effective for a 3-D effect so that specific graphics appear to be on a different visual plane from the background of the part

  aluminum selective undercoat resized 600

4 - Deep etch provides the look of debossed graphics on aluminum 
Effective when a two-tone look is desired and no forming is required for the part.

aluminum deep etch silver resized 600


5 - Screened texture provides visual and tactile dimension for aluminum nameplates
Effective option for accent areas and to create illusion of raised borders or graphics.

aluminum screened texture detail resized 600

Cost Effective

Involving Northern Engraving early in the nameplate design process allows us to work with you to recommend options within your budget that meet your product branding needs.  By using decorating processes to create the visual dimension for your nameplates, your initial tooling investment can be kept at the lowest possible dollar.  The examples above outline cost effective options to achieve dimension and depth in your aluminum nameplate or label design. Each of these are achieved during the decoration of the aluminum with standard printing or screening processes.  There will be artwork setup costs associated the first time that the jobs are ordered, but then your repeat orders are ready to go.  Quality checks along the production line are in place to ensure your design intent and expectations are met before shipment takes place.  All of these should give you peace of mind that when your order is placed you will receive good parts at your designated location and in turn, your end product will have attractive identification for your name, your brand and your image.

Where can you use decorating processes to add dimension to your aluminum nameplates?

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