How to Maintain Your Nameplate
Your nameplate is an essential facet of your office. It helps identify you, guides visitors to your office and can even be quite beautiful. More than that, however, it says a lot about you. If your nameplate is neat and clean, this immediately presents you as someone who dedicates themselves to everything they do with the utmost care and attention. A nameplate that’s grimy, damaged or in any state of disrepair, however, leads people to make the opposite assumption about you. It might suggest you show the same level of inattention to both your work and your nameplate.
Impressions can be powerful. To help your visitors form the right ones, it’s essential that you keep your nameplate looking clean and fresh. Of course, this is no easy feat when there are so many different ways it can get damaged. Accidents happen to all of us, and your nameplate will inevitably show wear after a few years.
When this happens, there’s no need to worry. Today, we want to step you through some of the most common types of nameplate damage, as well as the top ways to combat them and repair any harm that may have come to your nameplate. Once you learn how to maintain nameplates like this, you’ll be ready to make the right impression for years to come.
Common Factors That Damage Nameplates
Cleaning would be easy if all damage were the same. But of course, it’s never quite that simple. Instead, many different outside forces can cause severe damage to your nameplate, given enough time. All of them require different methods of treatment and prevention, and as such, we should consider them all separately.
With this in mind, here are some of the top causes of nameplate damage as well as a few corresponding metal nameplate maintenance tips.
An abrasion is just a fancy name for a scratch, scrape or some other type of contact surface damage that might mar the smooth finish of your metal nameplate. It might happen if you drop your nameplate on the floor, or perhaps if a heavy object crashes into it. Either way, this might look like a crack, a scar or a scratch. Because nameplates see a lot of handling, they’re quite susceptible to this type of damage.
The problems with this type of damage are twofold. Firstly, they’re unpleasant to look at. They cause a scar right across the plate and detract from the simple attractiveness of the plate. Secondly, and arguably more seriously, these abrasions can obscure your name, making it difficult or impossible to read.
While there are some treatment methods once an abrasion has occurred, the best way to fix this problem is to avoid it in the first place. Search for specifically abrasion-resistant metal for your nameplate and see if this doesn’t prevent this type of damage before it happens.
We’re all likely familiar with corrosion in a passing sense. This is a term for the gradual breakdown of metals through natural chemical reactions with their environment. In other words, corrosion is when moisture, dirt or some other chemical contacts the metal and sits on its surface, slowly eating away at the finish.
If the air in your facility is hot and moist, corrosion will almost certainly occur at a faster rate. If water contacts your nameplate, this will also speed corrosion. Salt, saltwater, and bacteria can all also hasten the spread of corrosion, damaging both the beauty and legibility of your nameplate.
Because corrosion is a product of the environment in which your nameplate exists, the best way to curtail this damage is to control that environment. If your nameplate is going to be exposed to saltwater, or road salt, clean your nameplate regularly to wipe away the dirt and bacteria that may be collecting there. Finally, if you have any control over the climate of your facility, try for a medium temperature with low humidity, as these conditions help slow or halt the spread of corrosion.
Yes, some chemicals are responsible for corrosion, but there is also a whole host of other substances out there that can cause a variety of different types of damage to your nameplate. Depending on which chemicals are likely to be prevalent in your building and industry, it might be worth investing in a material that’s designed to be resistant to those chemicals.
Just a few of the chemicals to be aware of are those found in materials such as gasoline, alcohol, and acetone. These chemicals and others may be responsible for ruining printed labels, causing adhesion problems, removing ink, and generally causing plates to become unreadable.
First, you can avoid this damage by investing in the correct metal for your nameplates. If you know you’ll constantly be around acetone, for example, it’s worth finding a metal designed to resist the chemicals contained therein. Otherwise, take care to clean your nameplate regularly, giving it particular attention after you know it’s been splashed or coated in some foreign substance.
Temperature is the final of the four most common causes of damage to your nameplate. Any type of extreme temperature, whether at the hot or cold end of the spectrum, it’s important to bring these conditions up to our nameplate specialists to help determine the best material or adhesive for your use.
Interestingly enough, both extreme heat and extreme cold lead to the same primary problem — lack of adhesion. In low temperatures, the wrong adhesive materials will shrink, gaining a brittle quality and losing their stickiness. High temperatures, on the other hand, cause materials to soften and droop, resulting in a loss of adhesion. Additionally, high temperature can cause poor material chosen nameplates to fade and images to become distorted.
The best way to prevent this damage before it happens is to bring your facility’s extreme conditions to our attention prior to production altogether. Maintain your facility temperature at a comfortable mid-range, and avoid exposing your nameplate to any heaters or freezers. If this type of exposure is unavoidable, you may need to look into nameplates specifically designed to resist these conditions.
Methods to Clean Your Nameplate
We’ve referred to the process of cleaning metal nameplates several times now. It’s essential, since it helps get rid of any chemicals, dirt or bacteria that may have found their way onto your nameplate. By cleaning them off, you stop the damage before it even has the opportunity to happen.
Of course, it’s one thing to talk about the importance of all the ways to maintain metal nameplates, and another thing to do it. To help you figure out how to keep your plate clean and tidy, we’ve got a list of metal nameplate cleaning tips. Try these out and see if your nameplate doesn’t look a little brighter and cleaner.
How to Wash Your Nameplate
It’s important to note that there are different nameplate materials. Even among metal nameplates, there is variety. Some may be stainless steel, while others are aluminum. In light of this, let’s examine how to clean each type separately.
1. Aluminum Nameplate Cleaning Tips
Aluminum is a common nameplate material, firstly because the metal itself is so affordable, but also because it naturally resists tarnishing and corrosion, which makes it highly durable.
To clean aluminum, try using a clean rag and warm water. With the damp rag, gently rub at the surface of the plate, making sure to work the cloth into any nooks and crannies. If the dirt is stubborn and resists this gentle cleaning, don’t be afraid to attack it with a little more force. Add a mild soap to the cloth and continue rubbing with the damp cloth. Once you’re finished washing, be sure to dry and buff the plate with a final pass from a soft, dry cloth. Be sure this cloth is gentle, to prevent it from causing scratches.
2. Stainless Steel Nameplate Cleaning Tips
Another common choice for metal nameplates, stainless steel isn’t quite as inexpensive, but it offers the bonus of being exceptionally durable in caustic and acidic environments that might damage other metals. Additionally, stainless steel resists corrosion, intrusive chemicals and high levels of heat, as well as dents and abrasions. All these factors work together to create an impressive resume for the stainless steel plate, making it great for a variety of working environments that might be hazardous to other metals.
Despite all these qualifications, however, stainless steel isn’t invulnerable to damage. When the time comes to give your stainless steel plate a cleaning, we recommend a solution of warm water and a gentle detergent. Use a cloth to rub this into the plate, and the soap should help cut through any grease marks, dirt or grime that have collected on the surface. Having completed this step, next use a dry cloth — cotton or any other soft material should do the trick — to wipe off any excess moisture. Remember, standing water will damage your plate.
3. Special Cleaning Tips for Etched Plates
Etched plates are the same as ordinary metal nameplates in that they’re made of a metal such as aluminum or stainless, steel and need the same approach to cleaning. What makes them different, however, is that they have letters and characters etched directly into the metal, which creates a whole world of crevices and nooks for dirt, bacteria, and grease to hide in. Worse, these crevices are almost impossible to clean thoroughly, as a surface wipe-down will almost never be sufficient.
The good news, however, is that there is a method to clean out these etched layers.
Begin by using a dry, soft rag to give the surface of the plate a general wipe down. This step won’t touch the etchings, but it will help get the surface clean of any clinging dirt or grime. Next, you’ll want to mix a solution of gentle dish soap with a half-bucket of warm water. This mild soap is ideal for cleaning, as it will be effective at cutting any grease on the plaque’s surface, but not so abrasive that it might scratch the plate.
Soak a soft rag in this soapy solution and use it to wipe down the surface. Then, to get into the crevices of the letters themselves, use a cotton swab. Dip the cotton ends of the swabs into the soapy water and then run the swab down the channels of the letters. Repeat this until the swab comes out clean and there doesn’t appear to be any more dirt in the letters.
Once the letters are clean, be sure to give the surface another once-over to clean away any dirt particles that may have emerged from the cracks of the letters. Give the plaque a final rinse as well, with a rag dipped in clean, warm water. Finally, complete the process by using a soft dry cloth to remove any excess moisture. We recommend grabbing another cotton swab, as well, and using it to dry out the letters.
Learn More About Our Nameplates Today
Perhaps you’ve thought about metal nameplates in the past, but have always been worried about the effort and care in maintaining them. If those have been your concerns in the past, we hope we’ve been able to alleviate some of those worries and convince you metal nameplates are a highly viable solution. With just a little care and attention, these elegant plates can quickly become an attractive addition to any industrial facility.
Ready to get a nameplate of your own? Browse our full selection of metal and etched nameplates today.
When it comes to the world of nameplates, there’s an impressive amount of variety. There are paper nameplates, cardboard nameplates, wood, cardstock, and metal nameplates. You might even see printed or embossed nameplates. There’s nothing wrong with any of these options and, given the right situation, they may be the perfect solution for your company. But we think there’s nothing more beautiful, classic or functional than an etched metal nameplate.
What is an etched nameplate? What’s the process of making one? What advantages do they offer over other sorts of nameplates? Whether you’re thinking of getting one or have already gotten one and are looking to learn more information, this guide will be valuable for you.
What Are Etched Metal Nameplates?
A nameplate is often an identification label with many uses, such as equipment identifiers, instructional directions, valve tags, serial numbered plates, labeling fire doors, indicating OSHA or ASME regulations and many more.
Manufacturers use a few different options to create etched metal nameplates. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Brass: Brass gives your nameplate an elegant gold sheen.
- Bronze: While brass gives more of a true gold color, bronze offers a color that’s closer to reddish-gold.
- Aluminum: This metal is an incredibly plentiful resource, meaning it’s easy and inexpensive to acquire and extremely cost-effective to work with.
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel offers the advantage of being the most durable material to work with, as it boasts resistance to corrosion, scratching, extreme heat, acids and more.
Finally, the etching element refers to the way the information or design gets written onto the plate. The letters themselves get etched onto the metal, creating a copy or background indent. That copy then either remains natural or gets filled in with a specific color of your choice. The overall finish is sleek, classic and highly refined, presenting a more polished appearance than a typical label plate where the name is on a sticker or glued to a piece of paper.
To define an etched nameplate, then, we would say it’s a small metal plaque with a word, phrase or image etched directly into the metal.
How to Make Etched Nameplates
Just as there are multiple different metals suitable for making nameplates, there are several methods for creating the elegant etchings you’ll find on these nameplates. All these methods have their pros and cons, and some are more practical in one situation, while others may be more practical in another. While these different methods have their place, we create etched nameplates here at American Nameplate using chemical acid etching.
What does the acid etching process entail? First, we create an artwork film based on the proof approved for your metal nameplate. The film is then carefully shot in our film room onto a silk screen using vacuums and UV light to burn it into our industrial mesh screen. A specific emulsion compound is used to block parts of the copy intended to be left natural, while the rest of the design remains exposed. The plate is then prepped to be dipped into our acid tanks for etching. Submerging the plate in acid allows it to wear away the exposed sections of metal, “burning” the design right into the metal’s surface and creating the finished etched look. Once we have reviewed the finished metal sheet thoroughly for the correct copy and any other defects, the plate can either be finished with different fabrication options, like polishing, rounded corners, added adhesive or holes, or sent back to production and filled in with a specific color of your choice.
Common Applications of Etched Metal Nameplates
Wondering when to use an etched nameplate? They’re appropriate for industrial companies looking to mark their products with information such as model numbers, manufacturing dates or serial numbers. They can also be found on products displaying specific safety information or directional instructions. You’ll often see them on fire doors, aircraft and even military vehicles, submarines or weapons. Many companies offer plenty of opportunities to use etched metal nameplate applications.
Some of the most common places where you might expect to notice these types of etched plates include:
- Manufacturing equipment
- UL-approved or certified products
- Military products
- Company branding products
These are all familiar places where employees or the public might look for confirmation that they are following the appropriate protocol or safety precautions. As such, it’s a courtesy to provide these helpful nameplates to let people know they’re moving in the right direction.
Just a few of the industries that commonly use nameplates such as these include:
While these industries are some of the heaviest users of etched metal plates, these nameplates can be useful virtually anywhere there’s a need.
Although information and labels are the most common things to get etched onto plates, they’re far from the only things. It might also be appropriate to etch out the company’s logo, as well as the company’s name. Even a phrase such as a company’s motto could be an excellent choice.
The Benefits of an Etched Metal Nameplate
Etched metal nameplates represent the very best, offering advantages and benefits comparable types of plates can’t provide. Every material has its pros and cons, and it’s up to you to evaluate those and decide what’s best for your setting. Despite this, we think an etched metal plate is the clear choice in almost every situation.
Here are a few of the reasons that’s true, and some of the advantages of etched metal plates.
1. Cost Efficiency
A good nameplate is an investment. Because of this, when you buy one, you want to choose one that’s going to stand up against years of life without fading, staining or succumbing to the natural wear and tear of life. Often, this means paying slightly more up front to make up for the cost of replacing the nameplate or having it repaired year after year. Rather than going for a cheaper model, it makes more sense to buy the best quality and watch as it lasts for years.
Because etched metal plates are so durable, there isn’t a lot that can truly damage them. They’ll easily outlast the competition, making them the smart and economical choice.
The durability of these plates is, of course, inherently tied to their cost-effectiveness. Still, this is a benefit unto itself as well. These plates are difficult to damage, vandalize or deface, even if you wanted to. Because of that, you can be sure they’ll remain shining brightly, no matter how rough your environment is.
It’s also worth mentioning that durability is tied to the specific metal you choose for your plate. Stainless steel is inarguably the most durable and sturdiest choice, although aluminum and bronze are also suitable choices.
3. Minimal Stress to the Metal
Stamping, punching, water-jet cutting and many other practices are available when etching. Metal nameplates are very durable and can be fabricated during production to fit your needs. Whether it’s water-jet cutting to fit within a specific panel or stamping serial numbers, metal nameplates are your go-to choice.
4. Capacity for Fine Details
Etching has earned a reputation as one of the best methods for creating fine and intricate details in the design of the plate. Whether you’re interested in displaying your name in an elegant and complex script or wanting to show your company’s logo, etching will be your best bet for getting this done accurately.
5. Option for Colors
When you choose an etched plate, you have the choice to either fill in your design with color or leave it natural. Because the design gets imprinted directly into the metal itself, it will remain clearly visible even if you choose not to add colors.
However, the option also remains open enough to allow you to add color if you prefer. Sometimes, this addition of color can even help make the design pop a little more, creating an extra level of dynamic beauty and interest.
How to Maintain an Etched Nameplate
Once you’ve got your beautiful etched nameplate, it should last you for years to come. To help it do this, however, it will benefit from a little care and attention on your part. And while the surface of the plate may be easy enough to clean, it can be a bit tricky to clean down in the groove of the letters. Follow these etched nameplate maintenance tips to get the job done.
1. Create a Schedule
To keep your etched nameplate clean, you’ll want to get into the habit of regular maintenance. Maybe you’ll clean it once a month. Perhaps you’ll clean it once every season, or you may even maintain it once a week if you feel it gets dirty that quickly. The important thing is to develop a regular schedule, so your plate doesn’t go years without attention.
2. Clean the Surface
To clean any grease prints, smudges or stains off the surface of the metal, mix a solution of warm water and a mild detergent. Wet a soft cloth with this solution and use it to gently wash away any grime off the surface of the metal plate. Beware of using a rougher material, as it may cause scratches to any non-scratch-resistant metals.
3. Clean the Grooves
Of course, the trickiest part of cleaning your etched plate is to clean out the grooves and channels that form the plate’s design. To do this, we recommend using the same gentle soap solution you used to clean the surface. However, instead of a cloth, you’ll need a narrower tool. A cotton swab works well for this gentle application. Experiment with what works for you and your company.
4. Dry the Plate
Because excess moisture can lead to corrosion over time, it’s essential to remove all water from the plate. Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe down the surface, and/or a dry cotton swab to make sure no tiny water droplets are hiding down in the indents.
5. Spot Clean
If you notice any evident damage to your plate, it’s a good idea to clean this up right away, before it has time to stain. Wipe these marks off with a cloth, or, if they seem more severe, go for your usual soap-and-water clean.
Purchase Etched Metal Plates for Your Building Today
Interested in giving your company a little extra bit of class and sophistication with the addition of an etched metal plate? We invite you to take a look through our catalog of products here at American Nameplate. Our nameplates are available in a range of materials, including stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, brass and even more, allowing you the freedom to choose the color, design and material that best represent the look of your choice.
Learn more about our etched metal plates today and how you can customize them for your business.