Nameplates are tools of identification, usually fashioned in the form of signs and symbols. They are found all around, from office doors and desks to bridges. Nameplates are not to be confused with nametags.
The main difference between the two is the fact that nameplates are usually mounted on something, such as a wall, a car, or a sculpture, whereas nametags are usually affixed to a uniform or another piece of clothing. Likewise, nameplates are not the same thing as name plaques, which are larger than nameplates and designed to communicate for in-depth information.
Mostly, rather than being used to display extensive amounts of information, nameplates are used for quick and concise indication. To this end, office nameplates, for instance, which announce the contents and occupants of offices and desks, typically only have one or two lines of information; usually, this information is a name and a job title.
Other bits of information nameplates often offer include the location of emergency exits, directions in a building or outdoor setting, the ownership of chests, suitcases, briefcases and trunks, the authorship, title and origins of artwork, and the name and title of an award recipient on a trophy, plaque, or memorial. Read More…
Nameplates may be made from many, many materials, and the prevalence of each material varies by industry. For example, nameplates made for the office tend to be made from plastics, wood, or metals like aluminum, stainless steel, brass, zinc, or copper.
Among the most expensive office nameplate materials are bronze, likely reserved for the office of a higher-up. Gold nameplates, the most expensive nameplates of all, are used both in the office and in institutions. For example, they are likely to be mounted on paintings, plaques and doors in museums, universities, cathedrals, and the offices of highly lucrative businesses.
Conversely, among the least expensive nameplate materials available is aluminum, which is much more widely used. Aluminum nameplates are found on consumer products, like lawn mowers and washing machines, where they offer instructions for operations and identify risks of use; they are also found in large buildings, where they identify offices. Still less expensive than aluminum nameplates are plastic nameplates, which also demand the least amount of maintenance.
Those nameplates that are designed to adorn something outside, such as building fronts or outdoor statues, are often made from brass that has been coated with a layer of weather-resistant chemicals. This treatment keeps the brass from tarnishing.
Those nameplates that fall into another category, personal nameplates, are more often made from wood; wood is safer and less expensive to produce for their largest market, children.
Other materials that nameplate manufacturers may use include rigid PVC, vinyls, foils, Mylar®, MetalPhoto®, and more.
In addition to material options, nameplates may also be imprinted or engraved with a wide variety of customizable designs. In fact, all nameplates, by virtue of their purpose, display some level of customization, whether that be individualized messages, labels, or instructions. There are a number of ways in which nameplates may receive their labels. These include laser or mechanical engraving, screen printing, sub-surface printing, hot stamping, etching, embossing, and photo anodizing.
- Laser engraving and mechanical engraving involving cutting into a nameplate with a laser beam or a rotary tool, respectively.
- Screen printing is a little more involved; the process consists of applying a photogenic stencil to a piece of tightly stretched, porous polyester or another mesh, through which enamel colors are forced. The stencil blocks the ink from touching the mesh where it sits.
- Next, sub-surface is a form of printing that is done below the surface or on the back of a substrate. It is used to create nameplates that need protection against harsh environmental conditions, such as UV exposure, salt air, and abrasion-causing elements and solvents.
- Hot stamping is a dry printing method in which dry paint or foil is pressed into a product. The process is aided by high heat and a die, made of metal or rubber, that presses down on the product and the paint or foil, which is placed in between them. Hot stamping is often used to impress nameplates with serial numbers.
- Etching, specifically chemical etching, works by first shielding certain areas of a nameplate with an acid resistant material, then exposing the uncovered areas to a corrosive material. This material engraves words onto the metal, per the design of the stencil, without harming the covered areas.
- Embossing is a bit different from the others; it involves applying heat and pressure as a nameplate is squeezed through both a female and a male roller die, each designed with the desired pattern.
- Finally, photo anodizing uses specialized aluminum sheets to print photo-quality images and words.
Nameplates can be mounted using one of three methods; they can be fastened, held with adhesives, or supported by another structure. If fastened, they will be drilled with holes through which screws, pins, and the like can pass through. Adhesive coating is a popular choice for nameplate manufacturers.
If they go this route, the adhesive they choose will have capabilities that match the environment in which they will reside. Other nameplates, especially heavy office and desk nameplates, are propped up on plastic, wooden, or metal stands. Nameplate manufacturers have many tools at their disposal; for the perfect nameplate, contact a manufacturer with your specifications.