Embossing machines are a great example of a modern take on classic manufacturing methods. Typically, creating an embossed tag uses a die set to press a full design into metal. In comparison, a metal tag embossing machine uses a set of striking heads to add each character into the material individually.
There are many different types of machines used for marking. Some of them are small and portable. Others are large machines used to crank out high quantities or larger tag sizes.
They also specialize in different processes. Most of the machines use raised embossed characters. However, there are also machines which can stamp or indent the text.
In addition to stamping and embossing, there are machines which mark tags and equipment with repeated hammering from a stylus. This is referred to as dot peen marking.
How Do They Work?
Not all metal tag embossing machines work exactly the same way. However, they typically follow a similar process.
First, a loader is stacked up with blank metal tags. These tags need to be the right size for the machine, and as flat as possible to prevent jamming.
Next, the machine grabs the tags to be marked one at a time.
The tags are maneuvered into the correct position to emboss each character one at a time. Each stamping head strikes the tag individually. There is one for each letter of the alphabet and numbers 0-9. Think of a typewriter for a comparison.
Finally, after the metal is marked it is put into a collection bin to keep the tags in order.
How Do I Import My Information?
Imagine trying to manually typing out every single line just to produce it on the tag. It would be a daunting task. Plus, after logging all that info by hand it would be pretty easy to make a mistake.
So how does the machine know exactly what to mark on each tag?
The machine connects to a computer, which makes inputting information a breeze. You simply put your information into an excel spreadsheet. The excel file is transferred to the computer, which allows the machine to read it. It handles the heavy lifting from there.
For example, column A of the spreadsheet would have the information for line 1 of the tag, column B for line 2, etc. This helps keep your data organized. Plus, making changes is much quicker.
What are the Benefits?
With traditional embossing or stamping, variable information is a challenge. Since those processes use a custom made stamp for each design, multiple designs mean multiple stamps.
For example, if you need 50 different designs, 50 different stamps need to be made. This is not only incredibly time consuming to produce, but also astronomically expensive.
For these reasons, it is typically not cost effective to produce variable data using those methods. This is where embossing machines really shine. Since they mark each character individually, it doesn’t make a difference if every tag is the same or not. The production time and setups do not change.
They are often referred to as “variable data embossing machines” since they are used so frequently for this purpose.
Mark Your Own Tags In-House
One of the best reasons to get an embossing machine is to mark your own tags and nameplates.
For example, let’s say you are going to add a tag with a customer’s name on it when they place an order for your product. You won’t know what information needs to be on the tag until you get that order.
By owning an embossing machine, you are able to immediately produce that tag and move on with the order. There’s no waiting for a manufacturer or shipping times.
There are additional tag options such as multi-part tags which allows for quick marking of several items.
This is also perfect when you only need a few tags each week. Placing order quantities that small of custom marked tags would be cost prohibitive. By marking them in-house you save time and money. Your only cost is the blank tags for the machine.
As previously mentioned, quantity is key in the metal tag industry.
Small quantity orders are just not cost effective with traditional production methods. Creating custom dies and stamps is too time consuming and expensive for making 20 or 30 tags.
Embossing machines alleviate this constraint by providing a lower cost alternative. Smaller runs are much more manageable, and don’t require significant setups.
While these machines are very useful, they do have some limitations.
Want your company logo? How about a unique design?
Embossing machines are not your answer. They don’t produce any custom logos, images, fonts, or designs. The actual tags they can produce are much more standardized than other processes.
(Keep in mind, these guidelines may differ by equipment.)
To start, there are strict size and shape restrictions. They are typically designed for rectangle shaped blank tags.
The blanks themselves must also be as close to flat as possible. This is important to follow as they can get jammed in the device, damaging both the equipment and the metal material, as well as halting production.
As mentioned there are no custom designs or images. You must choose from a short list of fonts, and keep your data as simple as possible. The embossed tags can only feature a certain number of characters on them.
There also may be limitations when it comes to materials, but this will vary by machine as well. The most common materials are aluminum and stainless steel. Some machines specialize in non-metal substrates such as plastic.
In short, embossing machines fill a much needed gap within metal tag marking. They hit the in-between spot of short production runs and variable data tags.
For organizations which could benefit from marking their own nameplates, having an embossing machine in-house makes a lot of sense. It eliminates wait times for orders and makes production run on your own schedule.