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Guide to Namplates

Guide to Nameplates

guide to nameplates

We’ve all seen them. Yet few know the intricacies of their creation, materials and types — or fabrication, substrates and make in industry speak.

They’re metal nameplates, and today we’re outlining everything you need to know about these manufactured products to make your ideal selection.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore metal nameplate types, uses and base materials, and the detailing that transforms these items into hyper-custom products curated for a range of applications — as well as what to consider when it comes time to pick a metal nameplate.

What Are Metal Nameplates?

Metal nameplates are a form of labeling commonly uses in commercial, industrial and aesthetic applications. They’re a bold way for businesses and individuals to imprint and mount messages, whether relaying product identification information per compliance rules, mounting safety instructions or — most commonly — branding names in a unique and long-lasting way.

Depending on the nature of the nameplate design as well as its intended application, metal nameplates can be fabricated from nearly a dozen substrates, molded to multiple sizes, scales, and thicknesses, attached with various adhesives and finished with many polishes and treatments. Their versatility is their hallmark, as is the branding potential for businesses employing them.

metal nameplate industries

Metal nameplates are particularly many in the following industries and for the following products:

  • Automobiles: From metal door plates and car logos to the serialized parts, makers and manufacturers place within their vehicles, metal nameplates are a mainstay in the automobile industry.
  • Warehousing: Regulatory requirements outline rigid standards within warehouse environments to display warning signs, safety instructions, and other security messages. Depending on that warehouse environment, metal nameplates become the perfect wall-mounted option for durable instructions signs that can weather dents, knicks, moisture exposure, chemicals, and high and low temperatures.
  • Appliances: It’s virtually standard for appliances to come with metal product tags and IDs displaying their brand or make. These machine labels constitute a popular application in the industry and one that sets the trend for other product identifiers, both household, and commercial.

Types of Metal Nameplates

Metal nameplates are a prime choice when you have a sign or message requiring durability — but you don’t want to sacrifice appearance. At American Nameplate, we frequently see orders for the following metal-based products:

type of metal nameplates

1. Corporate Nameplates

Leave printed posters behind. Your company’s name grabs attention and imbues presence and power through a metal nameplate. With the right adhesive backing or wall fastener, corporate nameplates can be mounted in strategic branding locations beyond just the lobby. What’s more, the right metal nameplate partner can scale down larger versions of company branding signs into smaller logos or machinery, boxed products, and more, keeping branding consistent and further elevating metal nameplate impact.

2. Permanent Safety Signs

Fire-exit labels, warning signs, eyewash station designations, PPE-outfitting areas, traffic route labels on warehouse floors — the list of ways metal nameplates can be turned into long-lasting, regulatory and compliant safety signs is vast.

3. Operating Instructions, Tags and Plates

Metal nameplates are a dynamic way to add weatherable instructions on tools, equipment and more. This is particularly great for items installed in harsher environments, near heat or those requiring in-the-moment, on-hand instruction, such as certain metal valve plates or pump tags in boiler rooms.

4. Machine Labels

As noted above, machine labels are staple applications for metal tags and nameplates. From household and commercial appliances to industrial equipment and machinery, this high-use, highly robust pieces of equipment require equally robust branding.

5. Engraved Tags

From small run or large runs, metal and plastic tags engraved with your company name, information and logo are stand-out paraphernalia. They’re fade-resistant, and engraved plates can come in a range of metals or 2 toned engraver plastic colors picked to complement your brand.

6. Serialized or Product Identification Plates

For products used in demanding and harsh environments, things like product identification information, serial numbers and company information cannot fade. These directly comply with industry regulatory standards as well as are required for proper machine handling and maintenance. Metal plates ensure product and printed or stamped serial IDs last as long as the machine does, regardless of surrounding conditions.

Common Nameplate Materials

There are nearly a dozen base materials that can be manufactured into metal nameplates. These substrates provide the foundation for your nameplate selection, as different metals will come with different strengths, weatherability and reactive properties that must be keenly considered to choose the right nameplate for you.

1. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the most common nameplate substrates in today’s metal etching and plate fabrication market.

Stainless steel is incredibly long-lasting. It is stain-resistant to the vast majority of environmental taints, corrosions, and moisture-related damage, and hyper-durable. It will take a lot to dent or nick a stainless steel nameplate.

What’s more, the natural metallic sheen and clean finish of stainless steel are attractive in a number of environments, ensuring you get the most for your money without forgoing appearances.

2. Aluminum

Aluminum is the next most common nameplate base metals — and for good reasons.

The metal is relatively common, making it a more cost-effective alternative to other pure metals or alloys on the list. It is also on the malleable side, ideal for custom nameplates where intricate detailing, etching or shaping work is required. Finally, aluminum is one of the lightest and least dense of pure metals. Depending on your plate application, this can provide benefits when it comes to shaping and hanging the finished plate.

Many are attracted to aluminum’s natural coloration as well, which can vary depending on geographic sourcing as well as treatments during the fabrication process.

3. Brass

Brass is notable for applications such as plaques, mounted nameplates, designated awards, emblems and more. It comes across as more luxe and decorative than other metal nameplate types, namely because of its distinct coloration that can range from gold to scarlet.

For commercial and professional uses, brass’ copper and zinc-alloy base gives it solid durability and malleability when heated. The more zinc used in the mixture, the stronger this nameplate substrate will be.

4. Bronze

Bronze, like brass, is a copper-based alloy mixed with other metals such as tin, aluminum or manganese to increase its natural strength and bolster its resistance properties. It is one of the darkest naturally dark substrates that can be used with metal nameplates, more commonly applied on aesthetic or branded features rather than signage or metal posts meant to be read quickly.

5. Cold-Rolled Steel (CRS)

Cold-rolled, or cold-formed steel, is a common fabrication technique that uses low temperatures to morph steel into its finished form.

In the case of metal nameplates, cold-rolled steel allows a blank steel canvas to be the base for insignias, apparel labels, tags and more. It’s a maintenance-friendly and tough substrate with a variety of nameplate uses.

6. Zinc

Zinc nameplates give off an industrial look with an equally industrial level of durability. Considered a “living” metal, pure zinc changes color over time and will react to moisture, chemicals, and other environmental factors, turning soft shades of green, brown and blue. However, it’s malleable and rather soft, rendering zinc nameplates more likely to scratch yet also more responsive to decorative embellishments, detailed lettering, iconography and more.

7. Nickel-Silver

Also known as German silver, nickel-silver is a cost-competitive nameplate substrate close to brass in the alloy family tree. The two alloys carry similar properties, including high malleability but some susceptibility to nicks and dents. Nickel-silver is a popular choice namely for aesthetic reasons, as its natural silver sheen and polished look adds clean and bright pops to nameplates even before they have their finish.

8. Monel

Monel is a nickel-dominant alloy comprised mostly of nickel and copper. It also contains traces of iron, carbon, and silicon, contributing to its durability and strength as well as its strong anti-corrosive properties. It is stronger than both pure nickel and pure copper.

For nameplate applications, monel is often used for signage and plates in outdoor applications, where materials need to hold up to wind, rain and other exposure to the elements.

Things to Consider When Selecting a Nameplate

Nameplate specifications are critical when selecting the right, long-lasting metal nameplate. While the principal factor that goes into picking a metal nameplate will be its intended purpose, application is only the first of a few key considerations:

things to consider with nameplates

  • Product material: The intended use of a nameplate goes hand-in-hand with what substrate you select. For example, any nameplate that will be outside and exposed to the elements needs an anti-corrosive, elemental-resistant metal base like stainless steel, while an indoor metal nameplate can prioritize color and malleability over durability.
  • Dimensions: Height, length, shape, and nameplate thickness are also essential to relay during ordering. These variables will further determine which substrate is right for your desired dimensions, as well as what detail work can be added to the finished product, such as squared, scalloped edges or rounded corners.
  • Finish: Depending on the decal or nameplate’s application, it may be pertinent to apply a protective coating or laminate to increase both the product’s durability and the lifespan of the overall plate. Finishes can also be for visual effect, making a nameplate stand out that much more.
  • Environmental conditions: How and where the metal nameplate will be on display directly influences all of the factors above. You will need to review the wear-and-tear your nameplate will be subjected to across its lifespan — think water, air, chemicals and oils from hand contact — plus any industry-specific conditions beyond these.
  • Adhesive or fasteners: How do you plan on mounting your metal sign or nameplate, if doing so? Adhesive backings or holes for wall fasteners bind your nameplate to a surface and influence its feasible dimensions, substrates or alloys. Different finishes such as a wood, plastic, or powder coat surfaces can affect the way your adhesive choice will adhere to the product over time.

What Are Metal Nameplate Manufacturers?

Metal nameplate manufacturers are your partners in the design and creation of commercial, industrial or aesthetic nameplates.

metal nameplate manufacturers

Our operations provide full-service, custom plate fabrication to cater to both small and large nameplate runs. We can consult with new and existing clients that require assistance on what kind of nameplate to choose, navigating the various types and understanding the lifespans, affordances, and technicalities of each.

The best metal nameplate manufacturers can assist in end-to-end nameplate production. From reading blueprints and mockups to submitting final proofs and mass fabrication, our sales representatives give expertise and guidance across the entire production process to ensure you’re getting the product you need, when you need it.

Tips When Choosing a Nameplate Manufacturer

Metal nameplates are more than etched words or mounted signs. They relay what’s important, who you are and what you’re about, convey branding messages and instill a personality or set of characteristics into the goods and products associated with your name.

Whether you’re an small or large manufacturer of your own products or merchandise, there are a few tips and tricks to bear in mind when picking a metal nameplate supplier.

  • Stay on-brand: Overly-embellished nameplates can appear unprofessional. On the other hand, unadorned plates or tags may work against the brand you’ve curated or even make your products appear bland and simplistic. Match your metal nameplates with current branding aesthetics, finding a supplier with the customization capabilities to do so.
  • Research vendor run specialties: What is a potential supplier’s average production capacity? Will you be ordering tags, nameplates, signs, and plaques at run rates that exceed what they’ve done before — or potentially worse, are so small your orders aren’t given proper attention? Run capacities are imperative to know from the get-go to assure you don’t see production and delivery hiccups hurting your bottom line.
  • Look for supplier certifications: Nameplate manufacturing has its own industry certifications that indicate independent parties have vetted a company for nameplate quality, compliance, transparency, and production protocol. There are numerous certification agencies to inquire about when vetting potential metal-fabrication partners, including FM ApprovalsUL Marketing and Labeling Systems and UL Authorized Label Suppliers, Intertek Quality Assurance and RoHS 2 compliance.
  • Check your own certifications and requirements: Will your nameplates need to adhere to OSHA or ANSI standards? Do they require inclusions like QR Codes or barcodes? What about military-grade industry specifications listed on the drawing or blueprint? If so, have the suppliers you’re vetting produced similar products in the past — or at least proven they’re capable of meeting these production demands?

Take Your Metal Nameplates to the Next Level

take your metal nameplates to the next level

With American Nameplate, you get a metal fabrication partner that knows the importance of information and brand display — and has made a business of it for over eight decades.

We’re industry leaders in etched, engraved and screen-printed metal nameplates and decals, as well as many other metal-based substrate products produced to make a mark.

Explore our portfolio of metal nameplate work or contact us today to get started on your ideal metal manufacturer partnership.

Screen Printing Process

Screen printing is the most economical process for producing aluminum, stainless steel, brass, or bronze. A wide variety of colors are possible and durable coats of baked varnishes are added to ensure long-lasting serviceability. Through the screen printing process, all of your screen printed metal labels and nameplates will withstand multiple environmental conditions, so you can use them inside or outside as needed.

Take a quick look at the informative photo describing its process involving a squeegee, film negatives, photo emulsion, ink, screen, and the material of your choice.

screen print example

A mesh screen acts as a stencil and covers the metal surface, while a squeegee-type applicator applies inks and epoxies to your tag. The final step in the process is where a surface coat is applied to the nameplate, creating a seal for your color and extending your decal’s lifespan.

Fill out our online form to request a quote — you can list any specific details you know in advance as well as upload an image of your design, and one of our specialists will be in touch. Reach out to our team today for more information about screen printed nameplates and labels.

Chemical Etching Process

Similar to an engraving process, American Nameplate can offer the unique process of Chemically Etching your parts.

mainwood etched brass black nameplate

While engraving is usually produced manually one piece at a time, Chemical Etching has the benefit to produce large run quantity nameplates and generate the permanent impression needed for your parts. Our etch depth typically ranges between .003” to .007” deep, depending on customer requirements. Customers have a few options to choose from. The first option is either Etch the copy into the metal and fill it with a color or to etch the copy and leave its natural color. Another option is to Etch the background, which results in a slightly raised and bumped up copy/logo. Customers again have the option to fill in the etched background with a color for a specific contrast or leave it natural for a subtle hoe nameplate

There are many benefits to getting an etched metal nameplate. This type of nameplate process can be done on a various number of materials including (but not limited to): aluminum, stainless steel, brass, bronze, nickel silver, CRS, Monel, and Zinc.

Secondly, while it is similar to engraving, etching can be done to many pieces at one time and sheered to size. This is important when comparing the cost and turn around time with a manual engraving machine.

Another additional added benefit of Chemical Etching is the permanently etched impressions built to last the lifetime of the nameplate. We recommend Chemical Etched parts to companies that need a permanent marking and may be exposed to harsh environments. Companies will rest easy knowing that their parts will always be identifiable when needed. While their natural environments may eat away at the surface, paint, or ink, rest assured that the etched copy or background is a permanent marking that will always remain.

Contact our sales team to speak to a specialist about what nameplate process is best for your company and product. Call us at 800-878-6186 or email us a blueprint at: 

Before ordering a Nameplate – Here are some things to consider…

There are many different aspects to consider before buying a nameplate, decal, graphic overlay, dial, or label for your company.

First, consider its main and primary function. Will this be used for product identification, safety, serial numbering, or just branding purposes?

Determining the use can help narrow down the process which works best for you and your company. For example, if you’re looking to have your brand “stand out” above the rest, embossing is a great way to create a lasting 3D impression. Keep in mind that embossing a nameplate can have its drawbacks for its impeccable style. Some of these draw backs will be highlighted later in our blog, but one main concern is the cost produce a male and female die set special for your 1 of a kind nameplate. Perhaps you’re looking for a nameplate that’s main focus is safety or legibility? This type of nameplate may be better suited for an Etched process. Etched nameplates can hinder fading or illegibility over generations of use.  Looking for a more economical route with a bit more color? Check out our Screened nameplates as an alternative.

Second, consider is how the nameplate/label will be handled?

This is essential in determining if any corner fabrication is needed. For example, is the nameplate being handled daily by workers? In these cases, rounded corners are often preferred. We here at American Nameplate have various corner radius sizes to fit your needs including scalloped, squared, rounded, and if a specific size/shape is needed for your design, our specialists can always quote a specific tool for the job at a premium cost.

Lastly, Where and how will the nameplate/label be displayed?

We offer multiple fabrication options such as holes and a variety of adhesives. Concluding the final placement of your nameplate is imperative to configuring location and size of holes in order to mount your nameplate with screws/fasteners. If you don’t have a need for holes, we stock various types of adhesives that may work best for your product and surface. Different finishes such as: paints, bare metals, power-coats, wood, heated surfaces, and etc can affect the way your adhesives bonds to the surface.

Our specialists can help you determine which nameplate will best fit your needs based on quantity, purpose, needs, handling, and surface material. Call our office today to speak directly with a member of our sales team!

Important Nameplate information and data

 “Understanding Nameplates are essential to a company’s process and environment.”

Nameplates can be located on all different types of products. While some nameplates may be very simple and straight-forward, others may seem as though you are trying to “crack the code”. Here are a few of the most common information listed on a product nameplate.

Common equipment nameplates can be listed with:
Company Name and Address
Company Logo
Serial Number
Product Number
Year manufactured

Safety and Caution Nameplates can display information such as:
Load capacity
Maximum height
Crushing Hazard
Cutting Hazard
Shock Hazard
Hot Surface Hazard
High Voltage Hazard

Electrical Nameplates display information such as:
Amperage (A, Amps)
Frequency (Hz)
Voltage (V)

All of this information is essential is finding out how to the product operates, finding out more information from the original manufacturer, and/or protecting the safety of yourself and employees. Common nameplate abbreviations and language is vital for workers to rapidly understand and focus on the task at hand. With Metal Nameplates your company won’t have to worry about the content’s durability. Etched, embossed, screen printed, or engraved nameplates have the ability to withstand the harsh and strict conditions they may face out in the field. Employees and future employees will be able to read the important nameplate information for years to come.


Call us today to talk with our nameplate specialists to decide what material, finish, and/or adhesive may work best for your usage.

Various adhesive options for Nameplates

American Nameplate stocks many different types of adhesive backings for your nameplates to ensure the proper bond. Picking the right adhesive is crucial in ensuring that the application is successful post-production in the field. Despite their similar properties, not all adhesive products are the same. Depending on the surface material (plastics or metals), temperature ranges, the rigidity of the surface, and the exposure to certain environmental elements, your nameplate needs to be able to withstand different conditions. Take a look at the descriptions below to see which adhesive best fits your usage or product environment.

3M-467 (0.002 in.)       |      3M-468 (0.005 in.)
Permanent acrylic adhesive for longterm bonding applications. Peel adhesion values are outstanding, and generally increase as a function of time and temperature. It offers excellent chemical resistance. Products with greater thickness provide higher bond strength to smooth surfaces and substantially higher bonds to rough or textured surfaces. Suitable for bonding graphic nameplates and overlays to metal and high surface energy plastics (ABS, Acrylic, Polycarbonate, PVC) and glass in the aerospace, medical and industrial equipment, automotive, appliance and electonic markets.

3M-9471LE (0.002 in.)       |       3M-9472LE (0.005 in.)
Permanent acrylic adhesive that is designed for applications requiring greater initial adhesion or high bond to low surface energy plastics (polypropylene and polyethehylene). It also offers an excellent bond to powder coatings. Because it “flows” quickly, it is ideal for lamination to porous fabrics, foams, and wood.

3M-9469 (VHB-0.005 in. )      |      3M-9473 (VHB-0.010 in.)
This “Isotac” acrylic adhesive is the highest performing adhesive in the 3M laminating adhesive line. It offers a very high temperature resistance and exceptional shear strength. VHB tapes are ideal for many interior and exterior industrial applications. VHB tapes are ideal for bonding a variety of substrates, including most metal, sealed wood and glass, as well as many plastics, composites and painted surfaces

3M-Y966 (0.002 in. – High Temp)
This “High Temperature” arylic is designed for exposure up to 450 deg F., and has a high chemical resistance. This adhesive has has excellant “shear” strength even at elevated tempuratures. It offers adhesion peel characteristics slightly higher than most other acrylic formulations. It extremely low “outgassing” properties are important in the electronic and aerospace industry

Arlon/Viscor (1/32” Foam)    |      Arlon/Viscor   (1/16” Foam)
This synthetic rubber adhesive is a high performance double-coated “closed cell” foam tape that combines high initial bond strength with excellent shear and cohesive strength. This foam tape bonds well to most metals and plastics.

Still unsure of which adhesive is best or most cost effective? Contact our  specialists to help identify the suitable tape for your nameplates.

Click here for more information: American Nameplate Adhesives

Benefits of an Etched Nameplate

Having a Metal Nameplate can benefit your company in numerous ways. Not only does it provide stylish and attractive branding, it’s also a great investment!

Your custom artwork is deeply etched into the metal of your choice. Typically etched into Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Brass, Bronze, Monel, Nickel Silver, CRS, or Zinc, we are capable of helping you make the best decision depending on usage.

Check out our various Etched Product Materials/Specifications here

After you have decided the best material, size, application method, and shape of your nameplate, our specialists can help quote your product accordingly. Once production begins, we take the time to fill in your etched product with long-lasting, colorful baked enamels or epoxies to ensure durability. Etched Nameplates can withstand the harshest conditions, guaranteeing that your logo, brand, product identification, and general safety warnings will not fade for years. This is may be dire for certain information related to the product such as: serial numbers, company contact information, make/model numbers, or other important safety identifications. Knowing that you won’t be forced to replace these nameplates for many years due to UV light, water, or other harsh conditions can lower your costs and increase your profit.

Contact us today to discuss your unique conditions and specifications needed for your next name plate.

800-878-6186 or email us at:

Custom House Nameplate Company – Chicago, IL

American Nameplate is a custom house shop located in Chicago, Illinois USA.

We are flexible to adhere to your exact specifications and unique designs for your parts. Tell us about your specific needs and our staff, who are experts in the product identification field, can tailor your nameplate exactly how it requires to be. We have major success in the branding field providing unique logos and catching the eyes of consumers to help products fly off the shelves. Whether your need label or metal nameplate, we can help find the best fit for your usage.

Maybe you need a unique shape or perhaps need to meet tolerances that are very strict and tight? Not a problem with American Nameplate as your supplier we can capable of finding the best method to die cut, waterjet cut, or fabricate your part to fit your needs. Display your logo, company name, website, serial number, model number, or manufacturing date directly on the product itself.

Since 1934, American Nameplate has been manufacturing custom nameplates in-house to ensure our customer’s product is identified correctly and proudly. Contact our highly trained sales team today! 1-800-878-6186 or email your blueprints to:

What is a Nameplate?

You may be thinking, ‘What is a nameplate?’. The industrial term Metal Nameplate spreads across the manufacturing industry as a whole in various formats. What one company might consider to be a ‘Nameplate’ part differs from product to product and industry to industry.

Your specific industry might refer to a common nameplate part as:

  • Hanging Tags
  • Graphic Overlays
  • Safety Labels
  • Instruction Plates
  • Valve or Pump Tags
  • Dial Plates
  • Faceplates
  • ASME Code or OSHA Plates
  • Machine Labels
  • Engraved Tags
  • Fire Door Labels
  • Serialization Plates
  • Product Identification plate

Here at American Nameplate, we can identify with all of these types of parts across the manufacturing industry that suits any and all of your specific product identification needs. From metal labels to plastic tags, and everything in between, American Nameplate is a one-stop custom house source for your Nameplate needs. We offer a variety of different materials, thicknesses, adhesives, sizes, and processes that are widely used in the industry today.

Whether you’re looking for a new product or need your nameplate to uphold to specific certifications / military specifications, American Nameplate’s specialists can help you determine the best product for your needs. Our sales team will be sure to ask the necessary questions to ensure your nameplate is going to be sufficient for various conditions.