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The Nameplate FAQ page covers common questions in the following areas.
A solid brass nameplate is one alternative to aluminum when designing a nameplate. A situation when customers require a brass nameplate is when there is brass elsewhere on the product and the brass nameplate helps to continue a consistent look across the product. Brass nameplates are also used when there is an exposed edge on the nameplate and a silver aluminum edge would be objectionable. Using a brass substrate means the edge of the part will match the surface of the nameplate.
Many of the processes available for decorating other metal substrates can be used when working with brass nameplates. Standard process include screen printing, etching, stamping and forming.
A consideration when working with brass is that embossing fine characters will result in graphics which are not as defined as embossing those same characters on aluminum. The emboss will not be as sharp or as crisp. An option to sharpen the look of embossed graphics on brass is to diamond cut the graphics. Corrosion can also be concern when using a brass nameplate. Although the face of the nameplate is coated with a protective topcoat, the edges or sides of the nameplate are raw brass which can corrode. Additional considerations when designing a brass nameplate are that there is an increased cost and increased weight associated with the substrate.
A simulated brass look can also be achieved on an aluminum nameplate. A transparent tint of a brass color is applied to bright or brushed aluminum giving the appearance of brass. The nameplate can be embossed and formed as needed.
What applications can you see for a brass nameplate? Would a simulated brass look be an option for the application?
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Norlens or domed nameplates and labels are a popular look for product identification. The process involves decorating the aluminum or plastic substrate, embossing, stamping. The final step is the application of a liquid urethane. The urethane is applied to the nameplate and it flows to the edge of the part creating an attractive domed surface. The urethane is then cured creating a durable lens.
Northern Engraving offers a process which involves forming the domed nameplateto create a very unique look. The domed lens acts almost as a prism on the reflective surface of the aluminum. It magnifies the natural highlights and shadows present in the metal substrate. The eScreen nameplate featured here uses an emboss and transparent blue tint to make the graphics stand out. This is accented with a multi-color graphic printed in process color. The lens highlights the emboss and the detail in the nameplate.
When the formed lens is combined with a transparent tint of color, it creates a jewel-like effect. The resulting nameplate almost looks as if it was lit from the back. The Sunkist nameplate uses the contrast of an opaque white graphic against the transparent blue tint to make the graphic stand out.
Both nameplates successfully apply the formed norlens process to their brand creating nameplates that stand out. What other processes, looks or products would be a good fit for this doming and forming process?
Aluminum is a versatile substrate offering great flexibility in options for forming and decorating nameplates. This flexibility in decorating means transparent tints of color can be applied to aluminum giving it the appearance of other metal substrates such as brass or stainless steel. A stainless steel look is in demand for many large and small appliances. The ability to decorate aluminum with a mechanical brush and stainless steel tint of color means that product designers have options when creating the nameplate for their stainless steel appliances.
There are advantages to working with an aluminum substrate. Embossed aluminum graphics are sharper and crisper than embossed stainless steel graphics. Aluminum has increased formability compared to stainless steel. In addition, aluminum nameplates are an economic option with a wider variety of decorating options than stainless steel nameplates. Aluminum is also a lighter substrate.
Aluminum nameplates are often used on large and small appliances to created the stainless steel look for the product. A pressure sensitive adhesive makes application to the final product easy.
The stainless steel look on aluminum has also been used in large appliance panels and aluminum in-mold appliance trim. What other products or applications might be appropriate for the stainless steel look on aluminum?
The colorful names and designs of microbrew beers are some of the more interesting labels that we manufacture. From Porch Swing, Single Ale to East Street, Wheat, they are a striking group of metal and plastic labels. Most use process color on aluminum or polyester adhesive labels to create their multi-colored looks. Some create further depth by adding a urethane dome to the label.
In addition to the microbrew beer tap labels, traditional beer tap labels can be created on aluminum. These labels are often double sided with decorating on both sides allowing the aluminum label to be encapsulated in acrylic. Combinations of transparent and opaque colors help add movement while the use of aluminum accents catch the eye.
What other eye catching solutions could be applied to a label design? What other nameplates or labels catch your attention? Why do they catch your attention?
Stainless steel nameplates are popular in appliance design for both their look and their ability to stand up to corrosive environments.
Stainless steel nameplates are a great fit on in demand kitchen appliances with a retro stainless steel look or a high-end professional or commercial look. The warmth of the metal provides a modern and attractive appearance.
Stainless steel nameplates also make their appearance in kitchen appliance in an unexpected place... the inside of the dishwasher. This environment requires a nameplate that stands up to the high temperatures and detergents used.
What other environments might require a stainless steel nameplate?
One aluminum nameplate design which catches the attention of even those of us designing and manufacturing nameplates every day is the Tesla Motors nameplate. The most distinguishing feature on the automotive nameplate is the placement and emboss of the Tesla logo which gives the illusion of two separate nameplates. The illusion is further enhanced by printed halftone which helps add visual depth.
The larger area of the nameplate features a printed metallic silver finish which creates a sandblast effect in the background. The Tesla Motors graphics are decorated with a low gloss vertical brush and embossed. A second smaller nameplate carries this metallic silver and embossed brushed graphics theme across the part.
An additional challenge for this part was the application to the final product. A pressure sensitive adhesive was used, however, the embossed Tesla logo left a larger relief on the back of the part. The solution was to apply two pressure sensitive adhesives selectively. A foam adhesive was used in the raised logo area.
What applications can you see for one nameplate that looks like two? Request a sample to see the detail in this nameplate.
Creative inspiration comes from all around us. One source of inspiration which works well in aluminum nameplate and trim design is to look to the product. Overall shape of the product is one possibility. Details such as buttons and controls can also provide inspiration. Other surfaces on the product, including fabrics or leathers, can also be explored in the finish development on aluminum. Considering these details helps to tie the nameplate or metal trim to the overall theme of the product.
Harley-Davidson looked to leather, more specifically - shark skin, for the theme which they carried across the series of Screamin' Eagle inserts. Their direction to us was to look at the leather for the structure to be used in their pattern. However, the intent was not to duplicate the leather. Genuine leather varies too much from piece to piece for this approach. Northern Engraving proposed a variety of organic linear finishes with some of the qualities seen in the actual leather.
The aluminum finish which Harley-Davidson designers chose is reminiscent of shark skin but stands strong as an aluminum finish. The pattern takes advantage of selective brushing of the aluminum to give the part "flip". A printed texture adds to the metal tone on tone effect.
The pattern on aluminum was used as a background for a series of four aluminum inserts. Three of the inserts carry the silver theme forward with diamond cut graphics. Embossed brushed borders are featured on two of the parts. A fourth part uses bright graphics and a border accented with additional colored graphics.
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