Nameplate Prototype Tooling | 3 Options in Metal Nameplates

prototype nameplate

Prototype Tooling Options on Metal

This article covers the tooling and processes used to create prototype nameplate samples on metal.  Prototypes cover everything from hand-filed and hand-formed one-off samples to 500 samples using pre-production tooling.  Parts produced at this level are to be used for conceptual purposes only.  The information here is offered as a general guideline.  Each application is unique.  Our customer service representatives and engineers are available to answer questions specific to your project.

Types of prototype tools:

     1.  Throw-away tooling
     2.  Semi-production tooling
     3.  Pre-production tooling

Throw-Away Tooling

Throw-away tooling for prototypes involves a combination of processes such as hand filing, wire cutting and hand forming.  A limited number of prototypes are available in this manner.  It is the quickest and most affordable type of prototype tooling Northern Engraving offers.                      


  • fast turn around
  • low cost


  • limited to 10 pieces
  • parts are not testable
  • parts cannot be used for fit & function
  • any tooling made cannot be used for production (throw-away)
  • tight registration of printed graphics to tooling are not available with this method of protyping                 


This type of prototyping involves a combination of processes such as hand filing, wire cutting and hand forming but includes hard tooling.                     


  • quicker turn around time versus production tools
  • low cost compared to production tools
  • parts may be testable (this depends on the type of test)
  • portions of the tooling may be salvageable for production


  • limited to 100 to 300 pieces
  • longer lead time and more costly than throw-away tools
  • parts cannot be used for fit & function
  • registration of printed graphics to tooling is not always consistent


Pre-production prototype tooling involves a combination of processes generally using tooling very similar to production. The tooling is 75% production ready.                   


  • faster turn around than production
  • parts may be testable (this depends on the type of test)
  • lower cost than production tooling
  • tooling may be used in production (additional work will need to be done to complete the tooling for production)
  • tight registration of printed graphics to tooling as in production


  • limited to 300 to 1000 pieces
  • dies are not hardened
  • more expensive than throw-away and semi-production tooling
  • longer turn around time than throw-away and semi-production     

Blanking, embossing and forming are only part of the equation when designing a nameplate. Contact us to discuss your specific requirements in nameplate and label prototyping.  Our Sales Managers are available to discuss your specific needs whether on plastic or metal.  

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