What Is The Difference Between Hard And Soft Enamel Pins?

Posted by Craig Davidiuk on 11/6/18 1:34 PM

 The primary difference between the two enamel pin manufacturing processes is that they use a lot less paint in the soft enamel process and the cost is substantially cheaper than hard enamel. Our 20 second video demonstrates the difference OR do a deep dive and learn more about how we paint our pins with our detailed article. 

Use Soft Enamel When.....

If you are enamel pin designer who is seeking higher margins in your online store,  pick this process. Company logo pins and sport trading pins are also common users of the soft enamel process.


Use Hard Enamel When....

If your application is for years service programs or corporate promotion,  go for the hard enamel if you can afford it. There is defiantly a "wow" factor with the hard enamel process and it avoids any perception of being "cheap". Pins are comparatively cheap to other award products like plaques and trophies.




Soft Enamel Pins

  • Thinner Base Metal
  • Paint Is Not Level With Surface
  • Substantially Cheaper Than Hard Enamel
  • Paint Is Not "Soft"

Hard Enamel Pins


  • Thicker Base Metal
  • Paint Level With Surface
  • Costs About 40% More
  • Paint Is Very Hard 


Both Made With Die Struck Process

Both hard and soft enamel pins are made using the "Die Struck" process. That means we stamp them out of metal. Your design is engraved into a steel mold. Then a strip of zinc alloy is placed over top of the mold and a hydraulic press applies thousands of pounds of pressure so that its rendered with crisp and clean lines. Soft and hard enamel pins are stamped the same way: The Die Struck Process. 

Die Struck Lapel Pin Manufacturing Photo


Both Coloured Using Liquid Epoxy

 Once that is done, we decorate your pins. There are two ways in which we add colour to your customized pins. A liquid epoxy paint is injected into your pins.Either hard enamel or soft enamel. They both dry quite hard but on the soft enamel version the paint is much thinner. Hard enamel pins are made with the paint level with the surface. 

Hard Enamel Being Applied to Custom Pins

Soft enamel pins are about 40% cheaper that hard enamel pins depending on the quantity you buy. They use less paint, less metal and weigh less so shipping costs are lower.
So it boils down to personal preference. Chances are the pin recipient, won't be able to tell the difference. 


Art Can Decide Process For You

Sometimes you are forced to use one process over the other because of the art.  For example, black dyed nickel (the most popular electroplate with artists) is only available in soft enamel. 

If you want to silkscreen  details over epoxy or require engraved numbers or text, you might have to use the hard enamel process.  


Our advice: don't get your heart set on one process over they other until you talk to us first. 




Tags: enamel pin trend, die struck pins, cloisonné pins, hard enamel pins, enamel pins, Custom Lapel Pins, DIY Enamel Pin Design


About The Author


Craig Davidiuk has been in the promotional products his entire life. His family owned and operated a pin factory until 2002 and he eventually took over the company in 2012. He also has a diploma in Media Resources from Capilano University. Today his company is one of the leading suppliers of custom pins, medals and swag in Western Canada.

He is a father of one son with his wife, Courtney. Craig enjoys skiing, mountain biking, DJing, playing saxophone and world travel.  The Davidiuk family resides in 100 Mile House, BC. 


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