Virtually all manufactured equipment requires an identification. This could be something as simple as a company name to model number and serial numbers as well as instructions of operation and safety warnings. Besides the practical information a manufacturer wishes to relay to the end-user, a nameplate is a signature for the company making the machinery. Traditionally, a company names its equipment as a source of pride. If you put you name on a product, then you’re proud of the quality and function of the product you make. It’s your good name and reputation on the line to the consumer or at least that’s how most manufacturer’s feel.
Nameplates can be generalized into two groups. Decals or stickers are often placed on less durable products or in areas of durable goods that are enclosed within a product housing where conditions such as environmental exposure or temperature extremes are a concern.
PMA manufactures several types of industrial nameplates for many applications. Here are some guidelines for design applications:
- Where will it go? How much room does it need? What information is going to be placed on the identification plate? This determines size.
- How will it be fastened? Adhesive or fasteners?
- What kind of environment will the equipment see?
- Is there a need to serialize? Is traceability necessary for warranty or other liabilities?
- How many pieces are needed. This may determine the most economical process.
Types of Metal Nameplates and Uses
Nameplates can be manufactured in several metals. Aluminum is the most common type followed with stainless, steel, brass, and zinc.
Stainless steel is the king of the nameplate world. If stainless is etched, there will always be an image on the metal. Stainless is often specified for temperature and environmental extremes. In specifying “etched stainless steel”, depth of the etched image will determine contrast longevity. In lieu of paint-filling, some products are surface etched and then silk screened. This is a inexpensive way of offering an etched product to avoid more expensive paint-fill processes. The paint may come off but there is usually a latent image left. As stainless is etched deeper, paint colors can be introduced as an in-fill. This process will often outlive the product that it’s on since the etched area will take a considerably longer time to wear off in extreme conditions. Thinner stainless nameplates may be permanently fasted due to its material strength.
Aluminum nameplates can be photo-imaged either by encapsulation into an anodized surface or chemically etched with raised or sunken copy. Thin aluminum, when given an adhesive back, can conform to curved surfaces. Generally the threshold for adhesive use is .032 thick. Any other nameplate .032 or thicker should be fastened to a product. Aluminum nameplates can also be silk-screened or printed if the surface is anodized. Raw aluminum does not hold ink or paint very well.
Imaged and anodized aluminum nameplates offers durability comparable to etched processes.
Brass and other metals can be etched in several thicknesses and are usually cosmetic in nature.
Cost Considerations: Quantity generally determines price. Etched products that offer longevity and environmental resilience can be quite economical in durable goods. Short run applications can be expensive due to the set-up and processing of etched metals.
Longer runs of 1000 or more are often silk-screened if the equipment environment is not a challenge. Stickers of decals are often used in home products where large numbers are manufactured. For shorter runs with a need for durability, PMA offers a photo-imaged anodized aluminum product without expensive set-ups or cleans-ups. This process is second only to stainless steel for long term use. The metal is photo-imaged and lends itself to fine, crisp details including barcode markings.