Archive: Jan 2020

All About Engraved Nameplates


Engraved Nameplates

engraved nameplates

If you are looking for nameplates for your products that will fit your industry’s standards, you have probably stumbled upon engraving. You may be wondering if engraved nameplates are the right option for your business’s needs and how the process works.

Etched, engraved, screen-printed and embossed nameplates all have their benefits. But an engraving can offer many advantages, such as resistance to fading and abrasions and a superior aesthetic that will stand the test of time.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how engraved nameplates are made, their unique advantages and how they can work for your business.

How Are Engraved Nameplates Made?

Engraving nameplates is a precise science. First, you must choose the best material for your purposes. While some textures have a beautiful appearance, others are more durable and better suited to withstand the elements. After you choose a material, submit a design and select a shape, your nameplate will be engraved. A computerized process produces accuracy that’s impossible to get using other imprint methods.

Materials for Engraved Nameplates

The most common materials for engraved nameplates are plastic and metal. Popular choices for engravings include:

material for engraved nameplates

  • Aluminum: Aluminum offers a durable and cost-effective material. It’s more common than other pure metals and alloys, making it less expensive. Aluminum is malleable, which makes it great for logos, diagrams or custom fonts with intricate details. As one of the least-dense pure metals, it is easy to shape and adhere. Many admire aluminum for its natural coloration, which varies depending on the metal’s source and its finish.
  • Brass: This metal gives off a brushed finish and has many aesthetic nameplate applications. Plaques, mounted nameplates, engraved awards, and emblems all standout against its gold or scarlet color. In industrial settings, this zinc and copper alloy is durable and malleable when heated.
  • Stainless steel: A popular choice for almost any nameplate, stainless steel is stain resistant, anti-corrosive and sturdy. Impervious to most nicks and dents, stainless steel also provides a mill finish and a natural sheen, making it as attractive as it is tough.
  • Monel: Monel is an alloy of nickel and copper that offers another choice for outdoor use. With traces of iron, carbon, and silicon, monel is resistant to wind, rain, and other elements. The naturally dark bronze or the high-polished finish of nickel-silver offer elegant branding.
  • Phenolic: If you need a non-conductive material, try phenolic. Phenolic is a material made from a thermoset resin that is low-glare and scratch-resistantWhile it’s not recommended for outdoor use, it is a great option for nameplates on indoor electrical equipment.
  • Engraver’s stock plastic: Engraver’s stock allows for a two-toned finish, so the print will match your brand’s color palette. Plastic is a low-cost option that will work for most indoor applications.


How Engraving Works

Engraving creates a recess in whichever material you’ve chosen for the engraving. The process uses a rotary cutting tool synced with a computer, which creates a clean edge and cuts to a small depth.

Engravers might also use a carbon dioxide laser, which creates a more shallow incision. Laser engravings can also produce barcodes alongside custom text and graphics. With laser engraving, a high-heat laser beam cuts into the metal or plastic and vaporizes this material to reveal a cavity.

An engraving can be filled in with paint or left without fill, depending on your preferences.

If you have specific needs, you can choose to send a blueprint of your design and specifications to our specialists to confirm an engraved nameplate will meet your needsOr you may send an artwork file and select from a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials from our quote form. At American Nameplate, we accept AI, EPS, PDF, CDR, DWG, and DXF file types.

After submitting materials, you will receive a proof to ensure the plates meet all of your requirements. After your approval, the nameplates will go into production. Production time will vary depending on your order specific variables.

At American Nameplate, we offer some of the fastest turnaround times in the business, with a standard of two to three weeks. We also provide an Eagle Express service for time-sensitive requests. If you need to reorder a nameplate you’ve already ordered from us in the past, Eagle Express will send your order within three business days. For new requests, we will ship within six business days after proof approval.

Benefits of Engraving Nameplates

Between its durability and superior workmanship, engraving offers several key advantages. Engraving allows you to meet the highest standards, so crucial information will last as long as the products you manufacture do. Engraving is precise enough to carve bar codes, specific fonts, and logos.

These benefits combine to produce nameplates a cut-above those created using other techniques. Some of the most significant benefits of engraving nameplates include:

benefits of engraving nameplates


Some engravings carved in ancient Rome are still readable today. On the face of historic buildings or churches, you’re likely to find plaques that were engraved hundreds of years ago. Engraving stands the test of time. Engravings have a deeper and cleaner line than etchings or stamps, which helps them resist wear.

Thanks to detailed computer codes and precise cutting tools, engraving is more accurate than etching or silk screening. Against the right material, the crisp edge can endure many environments, including:

  • Extreme temperatures
  • Rough surfaces and abrasion
  • Demanding weather conditions
  • Corrosive substances

Customization and Flexibility

Engraved nameplates offer more customization. While you can stamp a nameplate, you’ll be limited to the typefaces that the nameplate manufacturer has in stock. But with engraving, screen printing, and etching, various fonts, graphic, or design you come up with can be engraved into metal or plastic.

You can carve essential safety procedures alongside illustrative pictographs, or serial numbers and contact information alongside a beautifully rendered logo.

With laser engraving, you will get even more flexibility. You can work with varying degrees of thickness for both materials and line depth. But, laser engraving also allows you to engrave onto rough, rounded, or uneven surfaces with ease.

Superior Quality

The strength, legibility and professional look of engraved nameplates make them so versatile. They also stand out for their distinct appearance, perceivable by sight and touch. It’s easy to see the craftsmanship of an engraved nameplate, and using one on your products will be a testament to their quality, too. Engraving has a long history, so engraved fixtures look old-fashioned, smart and sophisticated.

Because both rotary and laser engraving uses such precise cutting tools, you can expect the quality and accuracy of the engravings will be consistent, even on orders in the thousands or higher.

Common Uses and Applications for Engraved Nameplates

Many industries use engraved nameplates when their products or machinery need to be custom. Logos, branded graphics, informative diagrams and more look best engraved.

We often think of engraved nameplates for plaques, awards and mounted plates, but they are practical in the industrial space as well. You will often find engraved labels on motors, pumps, asset identification tags, and industrial machinery.

Engraved nameplates last for years, which makes them ideal for permanent signage and safety information. For example, industrial laboratories use engraved nameplates to label fixtures, such as eyewash stations, and to print safety instructions on the equipment. Engraved signage for fire exits, warning signs and traffic route labels on warehouse floors are visible and permanent.

Manufacturers, rental companies and businesses with lots of equipment to keep track of should consider laser-engraved asset identification tags. Engraved barcodes are peel and fade resistant, helping you track your assets for years to come.

Engraved metal nameplates are heat resistant and can provide readable instructions, even in harsh environments. In areas like boiler rooms that need quick in-the-moment instructions, engraved nameplates can provide quick operating instructions for valve plates or pump tags.

uses for engraved nameplates

Some other industries that can benefit from engraved nameplates include:

Automotive Industry

Vehicles must pass thorough inspections and federal regulations, so proper identification should be visible on all parts of an automobile. To keep up with competitors, branding that won’t fade with time is critical for the automotive industry. Because of this, engraving is an excellent way for automotive manufacturers to display information for dealers, mechanics, and customers. Serialized parts can help ensure replacement parts are correct for a car’s make and model.

Nameplates preserve records for companies and contractors, making it easy for them to keep track of parts and reference information during resales and accidents.

Aerospace Industry

Airplanes and airplane manufacturers face increasingly high standards for machinery and parts. In an industry where safety is paramount, proper labeling can save lives.

In the aerospace business, we recommend pairing your engravings with durable metal. Metal engraved nameplates can show inspectors and workers vital information, such as technical specifications, serial codes, dates, places of manufacturing and warning labels. This helps planes pass inspections and pilots avoid disasters.

Labeling lets employees keep track of parts, eases navigation through supply chains and aids in resales, organizational changes, and disasters.

Construction Industry

If you manufacture construction equipment and tools, your instruments are being used every day at job sites. Having branded nameplates will help associate your quality products with your name. Construction workers and site managers will be able to tell whose products they are using with a customized nameplate featuring your logo.

For construction businesses, engraved nameplates offer a way to improve communication with your employees. Having printed safety instructions, policies and OSHA regulations on heavy-duty equipment keeps your employees safe and increases trust. While you should always train workers before they operate machinery, it can be easy to forget information like weight limits or the proper PSI needed for tires. Nameplates make this information readily available.

Whether you are a manufacturer or a construction manager, engraved nameplates can help you clearly label your equipment and resist wear. Your signage can be read even in bright light, and will not fade even after years of harsh sunlight.

Furniture Industry

In the furniture industry, an engraved nameplate adds an elegant branded element to any piece that will last as long as the product does. Branding lets customers know who manufactured their goods years later when it’s time for them to redecorate. In addition to adding brand visibility to these pieces, a nameplate offers a space for contact, warranty or manufacturing information.

Proper labeling of furniture can offer a benefit to inventory management for both furniture manufacturers and furniture rental companies. They can help you record pieces during large production runs, or help you track and prove ownership of your rental collection to prevent property loss.

Original Equipment Manufacturing Industry

For original equipment manufacturers, nameplates are essential for helping end-users stay safe when working with new equipment and tools. For items that will withstand harsh weather or wear and tear, an engraved nameplate will ensure that all safety information and protocols stays firmly adhered to their surfaces.

Engraved nameplates can feature technical specifications, manufacturing locations, serial numbers and warnings for products. The durable markings of a recessed engraving ensure this information stays clean and readable, no matter the conditions. Original equipment manufacturers need to meet strict regulations on the permanence of markings and labels, so make sure to source your engravings from an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) recognized provider. Make sure to contact American Nameplates before selling your products to ensure proper labeling that meets the regulations of your industry.

Custom Designers

For custom designers, one of the most significant benefits of engraved nameplates is their high-customization. When you create one-of-a-kind commission pieces or limited-edition runs, an engraved nameplate offers a high-quality label or branded element to the finished product. The precision of engraving allows you to produce nameplates as unique as the work you create. Including sleek contact information that lets those who work with your product know who to call for their custom-design needs.

American Nameplates allows custom designers to order nameplates in batches as small as one, so you can give yourself credit for the work you produce without worrying about minimum order quantities.

Trust American Nameplates With Your Engraved Nameplates

trust american nameplate with engraved nameplate

Engraved nameplates can offer a superior appearance and a durable alternative to other nameplate options. At American Nameplates, we can work with you and the regulations of your industry to ensure an inspection-passing, long-lasting engraved nameplate.

If you are unsure of where to start, we can recommend materials that can withstand the necessary conditions and provide you with the most cost-effective options. If you already have a blueprint or the exact specifications you need for your plates, we can execute your engraving flawlessly in any quantity. Request a free quote today, or send us your artwork and specifications to get started.

Everything You Need to Know About Nameplate Metals

Leave a Comment

about metal nameplates

When you design a nameplate, you may not realize how essential it is to consider the material. You have different options for nameplate metals that provide varying appearances and practical benefits. The choice may seem overwhelming at first, but with some knowledge about nameplate metals, their benefits, and common applications, you’ll have a better idea of what to choose for your nameplate material. Take a look at our tips for choosing nameplate metals below to make the perfect selection for your business.

Common Metals for Nameplates

In looking for metal nameplates, you’ll find you have an array of possibilities with different appearances and purposes. Take a look at the options you have for nameplate metals below for some information about the materials and benefits of each to help guide your decision.


Aluminum is a lightweight and versatile material that’s surprisingly durable. The material is pliable and comes in many thicknesses depending on the particular application. Its appearance makes it suitable for decorative uses, while its durability makes it useful for various practical applications that expose the nameplate to the elements or harsh environments. Some of aluminum’s benefits as a nameplate metal that make it suitable for such conditions include its ability to be:

  • Rust-proof
  • Tarnish-proof
  • Chemical-resistant

Once aluminum is finished or sealed, it will have these durable properties that protect it from moisture, chemicals and more. You could choose a photo seal for your aluminum nameplate, or you could opt for other designs in a classic aluminum silver color. Achieve those looks with finishes like:

  • Anodized, in clear or color options
  • Brushed for a classic commercial look
  • Milled for a light grain finish
  • Polished for a shine

Consider where your aluminum nameplate will go and its purpose as you decide a finish. Polished aluminum draws attention as a decorative piece and may be easier to read indoors rather than bright conditions outside because of its impressive shine. Milled and brushed aluminum creates a natural aluminum texture, which makes an excellent background for text options if you need something easier to read in various conditions.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a sleek and popular choice, especially if you need a durable nameplate. Industrial and military applications are well-suited for stainless steel nameplates, especially uses that display model or serial numbers because this material offers a crisp look that’s easy to read. The durable material also comes with other beneficial qualities, such as resistance to:

stainless steel

  • Heat
  • Moisture
  • Chemicals
  • Abrasion
  • Corrosion

With these qualities, stainless steel tags will withstand a variety of harsh conditions. Though stainless steel has many practical uses, you can also use it for a decorative touch. If you want different looks for your nameplates, choose one of the various finishes that stainless steel comes in:

  • Brushed finish, commonly known as #4
  • Matte finish, commonly known as #2B
  • Polished finish, commonly known as #8

As you would with aluminum, think about where you’ll use a stainless steel nameplate as you decide between matte, polished and brushed options. Along with the finish, you’ll also have to consider the thickness and weight. You’ll find various options depending on the application. Choose from sleek styles with a low profile or something a bit thicker and more durable but that still has a refined look. Stainless steel is as versatile in appearance as it is in practical uses.


If you’d like decorative metals, brass nameplates may be the right selection for you. Brass nameplates often come in thicknesses ranging from 0.016 inches to 0.125 inches, depending on the application and the manufacturer. Despite its primarily ornamental use, brass has some practical benefits, including:

  • Tarnish resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Abrasion resistance

While brass has beneficial qualities, it may last longer in an indoor environment, making it well-suited for decorative purposes. If you choose brass nameplates, you can opt for a brushed or light milled finish for different textures. Because brass is malleable, it works with various nameplate styles and techniques, giving you more flexibility in your design, especially if you want a refined look. Brass often has a yellow- or gold-tone that enhances its potential for decorative use.


As a nameplate material, bronze is quite similar to brass, just with a more red or copper color. Like brass, bronze is a malleable and decorative choice for your nameplate tag. It comes with some benefits that make it suitable for different conditions. Those advantages include:

  • Corrosion resistance
  • Metal fatigue resistance

bronze nameplates

Bronze can stand up to stress and corrosion from various chemicals but is still best to use as a decorative nameplate. To enhance ornamental bronze nameplates, choose from brushed and light milled finishes, just as you can with brass. As with other metals, you have to choose a thickness. With bronze nameplates, you don’t have as many options as you do with other metals. The standard thickness option for bronze nameplates is 0.045 inches, but you may be able to find other sizes available in various styles.

Other Nameplate Metals

The four metals above are popular choices, but they are not the only nameplate metals out there. As you explore your material options, you may also find:

  1. Cold-rolled steel: Cold-rolled steel (CRS) comes in brushed or milled finishes for a textured look. Manufacturers create the blank CRS canvas by taking hot-rolled steel, allowing it to cool, then working with it more to get their desired size and surface. You’ll find CRS tags in 0.020-inch, 0.050-inch and 0.075-inch varieties, though other styles and manufacturers may offer other thicknesses.
  2. Monel: This material is a nickel-copper alloy that can have a brushed or milled surface. You’ll find certain types of monel nameplates in thicknesses from 0.020 inches to 0.063 inches. Monel creates nameplates with excellent corrosion resistance, and it’s also easy to form for various tag styles and applications.
  3. Nickel silver: You’ll also find brushed or milled finishes in this material and nameplates ranging from 0.020 inches to 0.032 inches in thickness. Nickel silver is a strong material that’s non-magnetic, which you may need for certain applications. This is commonly used for a decorative plate nameplate option.

You’ll find even more nameplate metals than the ones we’ve described, but these seven are popular options for their appearance and other qualities. With so many nameplate metals to choose from, it may help to know what other businesses commonly use each type of metal for as you make a decision.

Common Uses and Applications for Metal Nameplates

You can choose from a wide selection of metals for a particular nameplate purpose, but some options are more popular than others. Depending on what you want your nameplate to say and where it will go, you may want:

  1. Aluminum: Since it is such a durable material, aluminum is a smart choice for informational nameplates. When you provide essential information on or near equipment, you want it to be on a reliable surface that will last through time and the elements. Display serial numbers, instructions, boundary markers, computer information and more on the easy-to-read surface of aluminum. As a bonus, aluminum is lightweight, meaning you can mount it with an adhesive in certain applications. Aluminum is also an excellent choice for aerospace uses or other industries that have to follow weight specifications.
  2. Stainless steel: While the style of tag you select can impact readability, designs on stainless steel nameplates are often easy to read. It makes a great choice for instructions, etched serial numbers, and other important information. Use stainless steel nameplates in indoor or outdoor applications exposed to the elements and abrasions because this metal can withstand a lot. Stainless steel is heavier than aluminum, though, so make sure you plan to mount these nameplates appropriately.
  3. Brass: Zinc and copper usually create brass material, but the ratio of the components creates different qualities in the brass. Some combinations are more durable, and some take on a gold-tone. Because of the appearance, brass works well for decorative nameplates rather than informative tags with serial numbers, instructions or other essential information. Instead, use brass nameplates for ornamental purposes, such as displaying names or logos.
  4. Bronze: If you like the decorative purpose of brass but aren’t looking for something in a gold-tone, consider bronze nameplates instead. Bronze brings a copper or red tone to your tags that are for ornamental use. Include bronze nameplates on plaques or display names and logos with them.

If you still can’t decide between your options of nameplate metals, consider a few other factors to make the right choice for your business.

Factors When Choosing A Metal for Your Nameplate

As you choose a type of metal for your nameplate, you can take into account some of the differences above, but you have a few more factors to consider. These considerations will ensure that you make the right choice of nameplate style and material for your specific purpose. First, you should consider your industry or purpose, some of which include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Military
  • Aerospace

Your industry will guide the style of your nameplate along with the qualities you need from the material. If you work in a hands-on job or need an outdoor metal nameplate, you’ll need a more durable metal than at an indoor computer, for example., you’ll need a more durable option than you would at an indoor computer, for example. Along with the function of your tag, you should also consider the style and appearance, which also contribute towards practicality.

industry nameplates

Think about the style you’d like since some manufacturers are limited in the type of material they can use for various options. The types of nameplates you can select from include:

  1. Etched metal: Chemical or acid etching brings your design to life in the type of metal you choose without compromising the strength of the material. You can select a standard surface or opt to add epoxy or enamel fillings that protect the etchings and make them stand out better. Military products, manufacturing equipment, and directional signs inside or outside a building may use etched metal nameplates.
  2. Screen printed: Screen printed nameplates are durable enough to use on interior or exterior applications. Ink is applied to the nameplate using a mesh screen then apply a surface coat to the product to help it withstand different elements and environments. With screen printed nameplates, you can select from an array of colors. This process is often used for aesthetic purposes to create graphics and background colors, though it can have a purpose for various industries.
  3. Photo seal: Aluminum is used to create photo seal nameplates, screening on your text or an image with ink and sealing it with a finishing layer. The result is an aluminum nameplate with a design that can’t be removed. A durable, photo seal nameplate works for indoor and outdoor applications from equipment and utility tags to specification plates and an array of other purposes.
  4. Embossed: Think of embossed nameplates as the opposite of etched varieties. The process sandwiches the type of metal you choose between two die cuts, called male and female dies, pressurizing it all together to add your design. The text or image is raised on the nameplate, creating a three-dimensional tag that’s sure to capture attention. Embossed nameplates will outlive other varieties of tags, even in harsh conditions that would take ink or paint off a sign. They come in stainless steel, CRS, aluminum and brass options. Some regulations also require certain signs to be embossed, making this a smart choice that’s up to code.
  5. Engraved: Engraved nameplates are somewhat similar to an etched metal, but instead of chemicals manufacturers use a physical process. Options include using a computerized cutting tool or CO2 laser to engrave the nameplate, which can come in a range of materials.

The environment the nameplate will be in also influences the type of metal and style of tag you should choose. Will your nameplate metals be in a hot, humid or other potentially damaging conditions? In those cases, you’ll need to choose a durable material. Across various industries, nameplates are often exposed to:

  • Heat
  • Sunlight
  • Humidity
  • Rain or other outdoor elements
  • Chemicals
  • Abrasion and other physical contact

Think about your work environment to select the right nameplate material. Combine the considerations above, and you’ll get what you need for your business. Do the options still overwhelm you? Speak with a manufacturer, like us at American Nameplate. We’ll advise you on the right choice for your application and other needs, so you get a nameplate that provides information or decoration and is sure to last.

Get Nameplates With American Nameplate

If you need custom nameplates, we’re ready to make your creation a reality. Get the tags you need for your industry, whether you need something practical or decorative. At American Nameplate, we offer a variety of products that can meet your needs with one of the fastest turnaround times in the nameplate industry.

american nameplate creations

Make your workplace safer with informational tags that are durable and easy to read, or add a decorative nameplate to your business. Browse our custom nameplate options or contact us with any questions you have about the products we offer. We’ll help you get the professional appearance you need with nameplates that are sure to impress.

Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Nameplate

1 Comment

aluminum vs stainless steel nameplate

Nameplates are a necessary component for a wide variety of industries. They might be needed for machine identification, brand promotion, warnings, and much more. These nameplates could be exposed to harsh environments with physical risks like scratching, denting or covering up the plate with dirt or paint. Abrasive chemicals and moisture can also pose risks for a metal nameplate, so you need a material that is up to the challenge. Two materials stand out for their durability and versatility — aluminum and stainless steel. Both are great options for making a nameplate that lasts, but aluminum and stainless steel nameplates do have a few key differences, including their longevity, workability and colorizing options. You’ll want to consider your application carefully when choosing a metal for your nameplate.

Let’s go over how to identify aluminum vs. stainless steel, the characteristics of each and what their uses are in the world of nameplates.

Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Nameplate

Both metals are excellent in tough environments and can hold up to a variety of substances. They are easy to install with a specific adhesive or simple rivet holes. Text is readable, with high visibility and there are design options that help you display information clearly.

When we compare aluminum vs. stainless steel, three characteristics come to the forefront. Some significant features of aluminum and stainless steel are their durability, weight and the available methods of customization.

1. Durability

The durability of a nameplate is especially important for people working in rough environments. Highly acidic, caustic or chemically reactive environments can cause signs to wear away or stain. If you work with dangerous substances, nameplates are especially critical to identifying what is inside certain containers, which rooms are off-limits and more. They can prevent dangerous situations from happening by keeping everyone informed.

Less hazardous environments may have trouble keeping signs clear as well from general wear and tear, fading or spilling, which could cause stains or rust to develop and impede a sign’s legibility. Other environments that can cause excessive stress to metal nameplates include those where it may see scratches, dents or moisture. If operating procedures make scratches and dents a hazard, you’ll need a tough metal that is resistant to this kind of physical damage. Moisture can cause problems for some metals too, but both aluminum nameplates and stainless steel nameplates will not corrode in water.

The good news is that aluminum and stainless steel are both excellent in many harsh conditions. Aluminum is known for great durability and will hold up well in inclement weather and around chemicals and workplace wear and tear. It is resistant to corrosion and can last many years. Aluminum is particularly resistant to corrosion due to the layer of aluminum oxide that forms on its surface in response to oxygen. This extra layer helps protect it from damaging substances. The most notable downside to aluminum vs. stainless steel for nameplates is its durability in comparison. While aluminum is a highly durable metal, stainless steel is still stronger. Aluminum nameplates can dent more easily and scratch as well.

As for stainless steel, it is incredibly durable. It can stand up to harsh weather, dents, scratches, chemicals and other extreme environments, such as those that are acidic and caustic. Stainless steel creates a similar surface layer to the aluminum oxide one, but it contains chromium, which protects the steel further and can even repair itself at levels above 10.5%. It is very low maintenance and is resistant to being dented or stained. Stainless steel nameplates lack high UV resistance, so they may wear more quickly in long-term outdoor environments. One feature to consider with your nameplate is what kind of physical pressure it may undergo. If it is likely to be bent, stainless steel is probably the best choice since aluminum may break instead.

2. Weight

Another quality that concerns our two metals is that of weight, which is especially notable in aerospace and military applications. Often, aluminum is alloyed with small amounts of another material, like iron, to add strength. Aluminum alloys are well-known for their high strength-to-weight ratio, meaning they are as strong as many other metals at a fraction of the weight. For instance, aluminum has one-third the density of iron or copper. This allows it to have comparable durability to many heavier metals without excessive weight. Aluminum nameplates are excellent for applications where you need minimal weight but high strength. Aluminum is also easy to shape, making it a more versatile metal for unique applications.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, does not have the benefit of being lightweight. Its excellent durability comes at the cost of added weight, like many other tough metals. This characteristic limits the use of stainless steel in many aerospace or military applications, but is less of a concern for other applications. While it may not work in a newly constructed jet, for example, a stainless steel nameplate would be right at home as an informational panel on a stationary machine in a manufacturing plant.

3. Customization

Each metal is also distinct in how it can be modified. Depending on your application, you may need a bright sign that holds its colors in an outdoor environment, one that can be engraved or one that works with welding processes. Each of these tasks will work differently on the two metals.

There are two processes unique to aluminum that both involve the addition of ink.

  • Anodization: One of the most notable differences between aluminum and stainless steel lies in anodization. Anodization works with the process in which aluminum gains a thick surface layer of amorphous aluminum oxide. It absorbs colored dye effectively and makes it more corrosion-resistant. It allows you to add a variety of colors to a nameplate, which makes aluminum nameplates excellent for identification, organization, or straightforward visibility.
  • Photo sealing: Aluminum also allows for metal photo sealing, in which the ink is pressed into the surface and sealed in. It is resistant to scratches and great for adding specific vibrant colors to a sign. The result is a metal tag that has ink on an inner surface, not the top. It’s also permanently sealed, so the design of your tag or label is unable to be scratched off or removed.

how to identify aluminum vs stainless steel nameplates

Stainless steel cannot be anodized, so ink processes won’t last near as long. Instead, stainless steel works well for indenting the metal itself through serial stamping or chemically etching. These give you the benefit of being a part of the metal, so they won’t scratch off or fade on their own. Another approach to impart a design onto stainless steel is to chemically etch onto it. Chemical etching bathes the plate in special chemicals that remove material in certain spots to carve out the design.

One of the bonuses of stainless steel is its capabilities for welding. Several characteristics make it easier to work with than aluminum. Aluminum’s thermal conductivity is much higher than that of steel, causing it to solidify faster. It also requires you to work through the oxidized skin on the surface and doesn’t show color changes very well, which many people use to judge progress on a welding job. Stainless steel has no oxidized skin and reveals color more effectively. However, some applications may need to avoid carbide precipitation, which occurs during welding and may require special precautions.

It is important to note that some of these customization options can affect the nameplate’s durability. Screen printing, for instance, can fade or wear a sign quickly if it is placed outdoors in specific environments. The effects vary based on the metal, design process, environment, and other factors.

Common Uses for Aluminum Nameplates vs. Stainless Steel Nameplates

You can find metal nameplates in many areas of various industries. They are appropriate for labeling equipment, making identification badges, offering warning or navigation information and even promoting your brand.

steel aluminum nameplates uses

As mentioned, aluminum nameplates are great for various applications. They can be stamped, embossed, engraved, screen printed and etched. Here are a few of the items you can make with aluminum nameplates:

  • Equipment identification tags and labels
  • Decals
  • Barcoded nameplates
  • Valve tags
  • Asset badges
  • Fire Door plates

These items can help with identification, classification and showing important information to the reader. Part of the appeal of aluminum is its versatile color and texture. Its silvery-white color makes it an excellent backing for colors and high-contrast text while offering a unique polished, brushed effect.

Stainless steel provides similar uses, including, stamping, etching, and more. Its applications include:

  • Designation plates
  • Military Placecards
  • Instrument panels
  • Brand promotion
  • Compliance badges
  • Navigation panels
  • Control panels
  • Asset tags

Embossed tags are a common use for aluminum in which the information is raised up through the metal. The design can’t be worn off and you can paint over it as needed. Embossing stainless steel can be a bit more difficult due to the hardness of the material itself.

One factor that can influence the use of aluminum or stainless steel is the cost. Aluminum is more commonly available and tends to be cheaper than stainless steel. Thicker or more specialized applications may make aluminum a more costly option.

Industries That Use Aluminum Nameplates vs. Stainless Steel Nameplates

Industries far and wide turn to both metals for their various plating needs and many use them in different applications. The industries that frequently use aluminum and stainless steel nameplates include:

  • Aerospace
  • Industrial
  • Transportation
  • Government
  • Defense
  • Energy
  • Manufacturing

Aerospace applications are a significant user of stainless steel and aluminum plating due to their detailed standards and unique demands. They must be able to meet strict specifications and maintain high durability. Aluminum comes in handy with its low weight, but stainless steel offers higher durability for tough conditions, so each is useful in certain applications. Another benefit of stainless steel is its antibacterial properties, which make it useful in health or food industries.

All industries benefit from the reliability of aluminum and stainless steel nameplates. Many workplaces have regulations to adhere to that require them to place safety and security information front and center. For any facility that needs to keep important information highly visible, they turn to signage material that won’t wear away. With these metals, you can avoid paint chips and scratched-off images. Vital information stays legible and safe.

Another feature that applies to industries across the board is the opportunity for permanent branding signage. Whether you need a bright, durable sign to go on your lobby wall for years to come, a small plate to identify manufacturer information on a machine or anything in between, aluminum and stainless steel are excellent ways to keep your brand’s image bright, readable and a cut above the rest.

Types of Metal Nameplates That Use Both

While most nameplates are quite versatile, some methods work better on one material than the other. Some styles are a matter of personal preference and application. Let’s go over some of the nameplate types that can go on stainless steel or aluminum.

  • Etched metal nameplates: In etched metal nameplates, we use chemicals to remove specific parts of the metal, leaving behind the design. Then, the cut-out areas can be filled with colored enamels or epoxies. These nameplates work well with both materials, providing high contrast and color.
  • Engraving: Engraving cuts your design out of the metal with a rotary tool. Aluminum is easier to cut as it is not as hard as stainless steel, which requires dedicated, tougher tools. Stainless steel can also enlist the help of a CO2 laser for creating linear marks and two-dimensional barcodes.
  • Screen printing: You can screen print on both metals, but it may be less durable than some of the other methods. The inks are bright and work well for applications that won’t see wear and tear or long-term sun exposure, but they can fade quickly and be scratched off in harsher environments.

types of metal nameplates that use both aluminum and stainless steel

Both metals provide exceptional durability and a premium appearance. They are versatile in both construction and the designs that you can put on them. Serial numbers, QR codes, instructions, bar codes, and images can all be placed on these nameplates.

Explore Options With American Nameplate

Which is better; aluminum or stainless steel? Aluminum and stainless steel are both excellent choices for metal nameplates and work well across a variety of styles and applications. Aluminum offers a durable and lightweight substance while stainless steel can hold up against the toughest of environments. Whether you need nameplates for manufacturing, facility signage, branding, badges, informational panels or any other purpose, American Nameplate can help you get the job done right.

choose american nameplate

We can create metal nameplates in any size run and meet strict requirements while providing quality and environmentally sensitive work. We’ve been around since 1934 and are recognized by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), FM and Intertek, working to meet the needs of OEM providers, manufacturers, and distributors alike. Explore our product selections today to learn more about the nameplates we offer.