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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!

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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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Options in Cut to Shape Aluminum and Plastic Nameplates

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, Jul 16, 2013

Cut to Shape

While many aluminum and plastic nameplates and labels utilize standard shapes like circles, ovals, squares and rectangles, sometimes the traditional just doesn't fit the design.  This can be true especially if the logo or the brand name needs to be a focal point.  When your design calls for this type of identification, the answer can be to die cut the nameplate to the shape of the letters or graphic. This will allow the image to be the predominant feature of the label. This type of tooling is possible for both aluminum and plastic nameplates and labels.

Aluminum Nameplates

Decorating options for aluminum nameplates are wide open.  You can simply have the graphics printed for an attractive part.  You also can step it up and add mechanical finishes to add movement and interest. Emboss adds height. Diamond cut adds crispness and sharp detail. The final decision is up to you.


embossed aluminum, cut to shape                    describe the image describe the imagediamond cut aluminum, embossed, cut to shape

Whenever your design calls for a unique shape using aluminum material, a custom tool will be required.  The label can be flat or an emboss can be configured.  
Minimum .005" spacing needed around perimeter of the part when embossed graphics are used. This ensures minimum contact area for bonding to the OEM product.  These examples show the cutting to shape and embossed graphics.  If there was not the slight edge around the outside of the parts, there would not be surface area for the nameplate to bond to the end product since the embossing raises the surface of the aluminum.

describe the image       describe the image

describe the image

describe the image

Standard tolerance range of  ±.005" need to be taken into consideration for the size of the part and ±.015" should be used for registration of graphics to the blank.  Tolerances are subject to review on a case by case scenario. 

Plastic Labels

Plastic labels come in polycarbonate or polyester substrates.  Just like on aluminum, decorating options are open for you to consider.  Transferring the design from artwork to the material can take place using printing and screening techniques.  Opaque and transparent colors as well as halftones can be combined to achieve the desired look.  Polycarbonate starts out clear which provides additional option to have clear areas within the design.  This can be beneficial to allow the OEM product housing color to show through the design.   

 describe the image describe the image

polyester cut to shape label  describe the image

A custom tool or cutting program is required for plastic labels so that the final shape and cut is to your design.  Any corner requires a minimum radius of .032" in order to have a repeatable and manufacturing friendly design.  Standard tolerance range of  ±.015" need to be taken into consideration for the size of the part and ±.015" should be used for registration of graphics to the blank.  Tolerances are subject to review on a case by case scenario. 


Attachment to the end product is always a consideration.  Many times a pressure sensitive adhesive is adequate.  Removing the adhesive can be simplified by having a break-away tab for the aluminum to pull away the liner which allows you to press the nameplate onto the mating surface.  Tooling operations can include snap-in features for aluminum nameplates.  On plastic the pull away adhesive liner can be slit so that it is removed in sections which can help during assembly.  If there are individual letters, a carrier with positioning mask helps to maintain straight alignment.   

 describe the image slit back adhesive on polyester  describe the image  individual letters, nameplate attachment with carrier


Open Possibilities

Cutting to the shape of the letters allows for the nameplate or label to sit in a recess of the end product housing.  This creates a finished and complete look for the brand.  While this type of look has been popular in consumer electronics and computers, it can work with nearly any industry or product.  The flexibility to use either aluminum or plastic substrates increases your options for decorating.   The possibilities are wide open and friendly for most designs.

Where could you use a nameplate that is cut to shape?  

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10 Options in Nameplate Decoration on Aluminum

Posted by Vicky Bowie on Tue, May 21, 2013

Nameplate Decoration Options

Nameplate decoration has endless options.  Depending on the goal of your nameplate, this can be as simple as one color printed on a bright aluminum background.  Or it can be as complex as precise registration of embossed graphics with a textured background on a formed surface. 

Here are 10 examples to help illustrate some of the options.  Enjoy.


1)      Screen print provides bold, rich colors.

Manitowoc Ice Machine bold color on aluminum nameplate

2)      Lithograph printing blends colors and achieves delicate graphic detail.

Body and Soul cosmetic compact insert printed graphics on aluminum  

3)      Chemical etch creates lasting impressions.

Deep etch graphics on aluminum engine cover nameplate

4)      Textures with trendy patterns add perceived dimension.

  Promega aluminum nameplate

5)      Multi-direction brush creates movement.

 Callaway golf nameplate

6)      Mechanical spin or stripe creates visual depth.

MACK truck horn emblem, spun aluminum badge

7)      Engine turn grabs attention.

Trek Madone bicycle emblem  

8)      Diamond cut adds brilliance and reflection.
Beckman Coulter diamond cut aluminum label
9)      Doming creates dimension and jewel-like appearance.
Sunkist domed aluminum nameplate
10)   Gloss level draws attention to your brand.  

 HON furniture aluminum nameplate

Now that you've seen some of the options available for nameplate decoration, which will your next project use?

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