Metal Tags: Making a mark that counts

Laser cutting of metal sheet with sparks

Whether you’re using them for industrial asset identification, premium brand labels or anything in between, there’s little that can match both the durability and the prestige of metal tags.

At Southern United, we have been making signage, badges, labels and custom plates for clients for many years, primarily out of brass, aluminium and stainless steel. We’re experts in understanding which metal and type of printing is the most appropriate for every environment and would like to share some of the details with you.

Material choices

As we’ve mentioned, at Southern United, we work with brass, aluminium and stainless steel. These each have different properties that can be benefits or drawbacks in different applications. For example:

Brass

  • Easily machinable into a variety of shapes
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Relatively low melting point (may be unsuitable for industrial applications)

Aluminium

  • Resistant to weathering, corrosion and high temperatures (although not as robust as steel)
  • Easy to cut and shape
  • Inexpensive

Stainless Steel

  • Very strong, resistant to rust and corrosion
  • Exceptional heat tolerance
  • Ideal for tough environments, marine atmosphere etc.

Marking techniques

 

Laser Marking

Laser marking will create a chemical reaction to change the appearance of a metal through charring, foaming, melting or a similar process. This may affect the surface texture and/or the colour of the laser-marked area.

Laser engraving can be expensive, however, the lack of inks or physical contact with the metal surface means that there is no need to regularly replace worn-out parts.

Engraving

Engraving can be done with a laser or mechanically. Either way, it involves using a tool to ‘hollow-out’ specific parts of a metal plate into text or shapes, usually following a computer-generated guide. This means that the design is easy to precisely replicate thousands of times and can easily be configured to incorporate variable data.

Engraving leaves a durable mark which is very difficult to tamper with, and which can be enhanced with coloured lacquer to make text stand out from the background.

Anodisation

Anodising a metal (typically aluminium) involves oxidising its surface to make it porous and suitable for accepting ink. Once anodised, the plate is suitable for text, photo-quality printing or an all-over dye.

To ensure this print does not fade or wash out (and to protect the metal from corrosion), the anodised surface is then sealed using heat or a combination of heat and a sealant.

If you require custom metal tags for your organisation, business or products, please get in touch. At Southern United, our team have worked with a broad range of briefs and would be happy to help you choose the best design for your application.