Screen printing on metal tags is highly customizable and versatile.

When you think of screen printing, your first thought might be graphic designs on t-shirts. However, the screen printing process can be used for many purposes and on many materials (including metal).

The process involves pressing ink through a screen. A stencil with a custom design keeps the ink confined to the areas where it is supposed to go (and prevents it from the areas where it isn’t). The ink is printed onto the surface of the material. Finally, an optional protective coating can be applied for increased durability.


Printing on metal has its fair share of shortcomings. Compared to other custom metal tags, it has significantly reduced durability. The ink is printed directly onto the metal material. This leaves it vulnerable to wear and tear. Exposure to tough work environments or weather conditions will not be kind to the design. The ink will fade overtime, and it will eventually get worn away entirely.

Protective coatings are an option to consider with screen printed tags. There are various coatings options that are able to be applied on top of the printing. There are coatings that protect from scratches, UV light, chemicals, etc. They aren’t a substitute for more durable tags options, but will add some increased durability to the printing. However, this will also contribute to additional cost.

Without a protective coating, the ink will get worn away after use. Unlike engraving or etching, there is no indent or cut in the metal that holds your message. After the screen printing ink wears away, you are left with a blank tag. This is something to keep in mind when selecting your tag process.

Screen printed tags are not made to be subjected to heavy amounts of wear and tear, weather conditions, or chemicals. If the tag is something that is needed short term or in a harmless environment, screen printing is an option to consider. If the tag is going to be used in a tough work environment, you are typically better suited for other solutions, such as embossing or MetalPhoto.

Screen printed tags are only going to last approximately 1-3 years outdoors. This is a major difference between screen printing and something like MetalPhoto which is rated to last for 20+ years.


  • Aluminum

  • Stainless Steel

  • Cold Rolled

  • Brass


As mentioned, screen printing is not the most durable process. That said, there are still certain applications where it is great fit.

For example, let’s say you need to put metal warning tags on something indoors. The trick is you want people to notice them. By choosing screen printing, you can utilize a vibrant color design that stands out and catches attention.

Since the tags won’t see a lot of wear and tear, and isn’t exposed to the elements, the printing should last for a reasonable amount of time.


  • Transportation

  • Energy

  • Government

  • And many more!


The main benefit of screen printing is customization. You can have a tag spec’d the way you want it. Shape, thickness, and size are all configurable. Serialized and variable data are both available, but can have a significant impact on cost.

Holes, corner shapes, and any other specifications can fit exactly what you need. There is even the option for adhesive backing. It all comes down to the design you want and the usage you need it for.

The best aspect of screen printing is the ability for full color. Your design can be as elaborate and vibrant as you wish. The only other process which can compete is a decal, which is printed on plastic or vinyl.

Some applications call for full color designs, but plastic or vinyl is not durable enough to do the job. This is where metal screen printing makes the most sense.

Be as specific as possible when talking to your manufacturer. The more they know, the easier it is for them to figure out the right solution for you.

If you are not looking for a colorful design, you should consider other tag solutions that are more durable or cost effective for your needs.


What is a screen printed metal tag?

Screen printed metal tags is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It very heavily depends on your usage or application of the tag. The tags are not made to hold up in tough work environments. However, there are certain applications in which they are a great fit.

The ability to use full color designs is rivaled only by plastic decals. Weighing the pros and cons can be challenging, but your tag manufacturer should be able to point you in the right direction to best fit your needs.