Pin Manufacture

There are several methods of pin production each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.





Soft Enamel

Die Struck

Photo Etched

Silk Screen Printed
Offset Printed

Base Metal

Copper or Brass
Copper or Brass

Chemically etched

Colour Material
Coloured powdered glass
Coloured resin
Enamel paint
Enamel paint
Photosensitive chemicals

Hard, flat, smooth
Hard, flat, smooth
Raised edges unless covered by epoxy resin identified as a dome across the pin
Hard, prominent relief to form the pattern
Raised edges (less evident than soft enamel pin)
Hard, slight relieft due to layed inks

Individual colours are hand applied one or two at a time and baked until hard at 800F
As for cloisonné pins apart from colour being epoxy resin rather than glass
Paint is applied by hand, but in one go rather than one colour at a time
Base metal is struck to form the patterns and then polished
Several images of the same design are coloured and baked. Covered with a clear epoxy coating for protection
Layers of ink are applied using screens to 'mask' areas of the pin building the design
Image is photo printed onto the base

Durable and scratch resistant
Valued by collectors
Perceived value similar to cloisonné
More colours available than cloisonné
Shorter production time than cloisonné
Greater scratch resistance than cloisonné
Less expensive than cloisonné
More colours available than cloisonné
Shorter production time than cloisonné
Greater pin design detail than cloisonné
Easy to produce. High quality appearance
Higher levels of detail can be reproduced with thinner lines in between colours
Shorter production time
Cheaper to produce
Cheaper than hand painted pins
High levels of detail and colouyrs can be reproduced

Expensive to produce
Least amount of pin design detail
Fewest colours available
Longest production time
Glass can be chipped if hit hard enough
Less scratch resistant than cloisonné
Can be confused with cloisonné
Perceived value less than cloisonné
Chips can occur unless covered with resin
White colour can 'yellow' over time
No colour pattern possible
Thinner than other pins
Lower perceived value than other pins
Less durable than other pins
Not as desirable as enamel pins
Not as desirable as enamel pins


The manufacturer has a number of methods to produce a pin, but they break down into 3 main areas...

Stamping / Cutting / Plating
An actual size drawing of the pin is used to cut 3 steel templates or dies. One for the shape, one for the design and one for the backstamp. Following this, squares of the base metal are cut and the dies used to stamp the front and back designs and then cut the shape (removing excess metal) around the design. This results in a metal pin with raised metal edges on the pin surface. These edges then enclose and retain the colour to be applied in the next stage. The base pin is then plated as required - possibly, gold, silver or nickel.

The design is coloured using either enamel paint, powdered glass or coloured resin. Depending on the design and the material to be used a single colour or multiple colours are applied and then baked until dry. In soft-enamel or photo-etched pins, all of the colours are applied in one go and baked at apporximately 100F until dry. In the cloisonné process where powdered glass is used, individual colours are applied and baked at 800F. In the semi-cloisonné process coloured resins are applied one or two at a time and baked until hard.

Each pin is polished to remove excess glass or paint and for soft-enamel or photo-etched pins, a clear epoxy coating is applied to protect the colours from scratching. Then the finding post (or pin) is attached with glue or solder.

Thanks to the '1996 Olympic Games Countdown - The Official Book of Olympic Games Pin Collecting'
for assistance in providing the information on this page