When it comes to custom identification, versatility is key. Screen and digital printing allow for more customization compared to other processes.

Metal printed tags can feature nearly any full color design, allowing them to be used for a wide range of applications.

Marking Processes

Screen Printing

Ink is pressed through a screen, similar to how graphic t-shirts are produced. A custom made stencil guides the color only to the areas where it is intended.

After screening, a laminate or coating is sometimes applied for some slight additional protection.

The screen printing process offers many benefits, such as the ability to mark tags with a multiple color design. In addition, screening is a precise process, which results in a clear print on the surface.

Digital Printing (Decals/Labels)

While screen printed tags are perfect for some applications, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Some requirements call for the use of full color imaging, with gradients, shading, and more.

These applications are better suited for digital printing. This process provides the ability to cover a tag with nearly any image you can design.

In addition, metal is not the only material used for printed tags. Vinyl and polyester-based decals provide the appearance of a printed tag, with a more flexible and lower profile.

Decals like this are often used for easily labeling machines and equipment to meet safety and warning requirements.


Printed tags are used for many different applications across many different industries. This includes everything from marking inventory to industrial safety signage.

Since this type of nameplate can be completely customizable, there is no limit to the type of application they can be used for.


One of the few drawbacks to this type of nameplate is the durability. Some applications require ID tags to withstand chemical exposure or weather conditions, while others offer little threat of wear and tear.

The environment the plates will be used in should have a heavy influence on the decision of both material and process.

Screen Printing Durability

Screen printing offers fantastic customization. However, it is not the most durable process for metal tags. While the metal substrate provides strength and resiliency, the design is still printed on the surface level.

Topical ink is highly susceptible to wear and tear. While a scratch or two won’t ruin the design completely, over time the image will completely fade away. Since there are no permanent indentations or markings in the metal itself, after the ink is gone you are left with a blank piece of metal.

Using the screening process in the right environments is crucial to its success. The process is not suitable for harsh environments or outdoor exposure. Rain will cause the process to wear, and UV exposure will lead to fading until the ink is entirely transparent.

Instead, screen printing is best used for indoor environments, or short term solutions outdoors.


One of the benefits of screen printing is that printing on almost any surface is possible. There are few restrictions, allowing for countless uses.

In the world of metal identification, this translates to any printing on nearly any material. The most common material options include:

  • Aluminum
  • Stainless Steel
  • Cold Rolled Steel
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • And More


Utilizing printing as a process takes customization to new levels for metal nameplates.

Permanent processes such as embossing or stamping are heavily limited based on the nature of the processes. Custom designs for these processes cannot feature highly intricate details as they will be hard to show up well when indented directly into the metal material.

In addition, pressed designs must also adhere to specific shapes, sizes, material types, and thicknesses. Whereas printing does not abide by the same set of rules. As the ink is just applied to the surface, it can be effectively used for any kind of material.

Full color designs are also a great bonus for using printing instead of stamping. With full color graphics, warning labels can pop, sights can stand out, and assets can be color coded.


Some examples include:

  • Transportation
  • Energy
  • Government
  • Industrial Applications
  • And Many More!

Industries across the nation utilize screen printed tags for various solutions. As mentioned, the best use would be an indoor application such as a custom warning sign. Full color designs are eye catching, and help the plates stand out.


Metal printed tags are an excellent identification solution for many types of applications. The versatility of full color designs offers a slew of potential uses.

While durability concerns can’t be avoided, putting this type of tag in a non-harsh environment will ensure it gets the longest use possible.