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 aluminum is 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.
Nameplate Etching Process
Just as there are multiple different metals suitable for making nameplates, there are several methods for creating etched 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 etched nameplate 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 etched 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 nameplate. 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 nameplate, 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.