The Ultimate Guide on How to Get Enamel Pins Made

Helping Pin Designers Bring Their Ideas to Life

If you’re a pin designer, finding the right supplier to make your enamel pin designs can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be.

You have two main options when you start your search. You can work directly with a manufacturer overseas or you can choose a custom enamel pin maker like Signature Pins that will serve as a liaison between you and the factory.

There are pros and cons to both of these options, and today we wanted to talk about what to expect when choosing one over the other. We’ll also cover how to submit your artwork for production so that you get the highest quality product, and shed some light on turnaround times and pricing.

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Soft enamel black metal lapel pins

How to Choose an Enamel Pin Maker

Some designers that are selling enamel pins online via Etsy and Shopify claim that working directly with an enamel pin factory in China is the best way to go, but over the years, we have learned that this isn’t always the case. The benefits of working with an enamel pin maker can seriously outweigh the benefits of choosing a factory overseas. Of course, it all depends on what you’re looking for.

Here’s what you can expect in both cases:

Working Directly With a Factory vs. Working With a Custom Enamel Pin Maker

When you work directly with a manufacturer in China, you will not receive any guarantees of quality for your pins. What you receive is what you get. If there are any pins with imperfections in shape, significant color shifts, or design elements missing, there are no systems in place to get replacement pins or your money back. Factories are not in the business of returns.

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Something else to pay close attention to when sourcing or working with a factory in China is the price of your enamel pin order.

You might think you are saving money going directly to source, but a lot of the time you’re not. Pay close attention to the exchange rates in currency for your country and factor in those costs to make sure you are getting a good deal. On top of that, some factories will try to add hidden fees disguised as import fees, exchange fees or shipping fees when you place your order.

Most factories say that they offer free shipping, but not all methods of shipping are the same. Standard shipping from China can take a few weeks or even a few months in some cases. Faster shipping is always available, but at a premium price.

These are some of the key areas where an enamel pin maker like Signature Pins offers advantages to designers who want to sell pins online.

We offer a 100% quality guarantee on all of the custom products we make. This gives you peace of mind, and security in your purchase. In the rare case that there are mistakes in the final product, we’ll replace the pins at no additional cost to you. This is not something you can negotiate with an overseas manufacturer.

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We also offer honest and upfront pricing and free overnight shipping on every order. As a custom pin maker, we do a lot of shipping and receiving every month. It’s common for us to submit orders for over 1,000 pins every day, making it easy for us to absorb the cost of shipping into our standard operations.

We’ve also been working with our production teams in China since the year 2000. We know the ins and outs of working with the best custom pin manufacturers and preparing designs for production so that every enamel pin comes out just right.

This leads us into the next important step in getting your pins manufactured: submitting your artwork.

Preparing Your Artwork for Custom Pin Manufacturing

We’ve had the pleasure of working with several high profile pin designers, as well as hundreds of indy pin designers on Etsy, Squarespace and several other e-commerce sites. The artwork they create is incredible, but it’s not always ready for custom pin production.

This is why we offer free artwork setup services. If you’re familiar with the minimums and tolerances required for manufacturing custom pins, then setting up files for manufacturing will be easier for you than most. If not, our art team will help get your artwork ready. The first thing you need to know is the type of artwork files to submit.

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The Best File Types for Your Custom Pin Artwork

Whether you’re setting your artwork up for a manufacturer directly or working with a custom pin maker like Signature Pins, the best way to submit artwork for pins is with vector flies. This includes .Ai files, .PDF files and .EPS files. We also accept bitmap files like .JPEGs and .PNGs, but that is because we will render them into vector files and get them production ready. Many manufacturers don’t offer this service, and won’t accept anything other than production-ready vector files.

The biggest things to keep in mind when you’re creating a custom pin are production minimums and tolerances. One of the biggest mistakes we see when artists send us their enamel pin design files is that the artwork is not created in the correct scale for production. Sometimes, scaling down the artwork simply isn’t enough. We can get into some of the production stuff shortly, but first lets discuss colors.

Picking Colors for Your Custom Enamel Pins

When it comes to color, all professional factories work with the Pantone Matching System. Be sure to choose colors from a Pantone color book and not from the options on your computer screen.

The colors displayed on your monitor will look different than the colors displayed on a printed page or on another person’s monitor. Even if the difference on the monitors is small, it can end up looking completely different than what you imagined once the enamel pins are produced. Using a Pantone color book to pick your colors, and including the color codes with your artwork, will ensure that your custom soft enamel pins end up looking exactly how you want them too.

You can buy a Pantone color book online from Amazon or several other websites. Having one nearby as you design a custom pin will always help you get the colors just right.

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Create Custom Pins That Meet Production Minimums

Let’s take a quick look at production minimums. Creating a custom enamel pin design on your own that meets all of the requirements for production can be tricky. As we mentioned earlier, a lot of the pin designers we work with create beautiful artwork, but the vector files they create are not to scale for the physical product they want manufactured.

When a custom pin design is resized for production purposes, it usually doesn’t meet all production minimums. This could mean that some of the text and artwork details are too small to hold color, or too small to even appear on the surface of the pin.

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Keep in mind that custom soft enamel pins have one raised and one recessed layer. If you add color to the design, it needs to be contained within a closed-off, recessed section of the design so that the enamel paint doesn’t flow into the wrong parts of the artwork.

A useful tip is to keep a 0.3mm dot with your artwork. This is the size of the syringe used to add enamel paint to the recessed sections of a pin. If the 0.3mm dot fits in the closed-off, colored areas of your design, you’re good to go.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process of preparing artwork for manufacturing, you’re in luck. Our Signature Pins team has years of experience creating custom pin designs, and we offer free artwork services to help get your designs production ready. Just submit a free quote form, upload a vector file of your custom pin design, and we’ll get back to you with a free price quote and a production-ready digital proof of your artwork within 48 hours.

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How to Order Your Pins

Once your artwork is ready for production and you have a pin maker you’re happy with, the only thing left to do is order your pins. Lapel pin pricing will vary depending on the custom options you add to the artwork like glitter enamel, cut outs, gemstones and others, however, the cost of your pins is mostly a matter of size and quantity.

Pricing Pins for Size and Quantity

Understanding the cost of making lapel pins is pretty straight forward. The most important thing to know is that the more enamel pins you order, the lower the unit price will be on your enamel pins. Unit price is the cost per pin in your entire order.

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When you order a quantity of 300 pins, you receive a significant reduction in the unit price of your pins. Price breaks occur at quantities of 100, 200, 300, 500 and then all the way through orders of 10,000 pins. For a more detailed break down on unit price, check out our pin pricing page.

The size of your pins will also play a role in pricing. The larger the pins, the higher the unit price will be. So, when you order your pins, you’ll need to balance the right size and quantity to get the best price, and if you’re working directly with a factory, be sure to set aside a little extra for shipping. If you want to learn even more about custom options and pin pricing, check out our blog on budget-friendly ways to order custom pins.

Important Things to Know When Your Create Custom Pins

So far, we’ve covered how to pick a pin supplier, how to submit artwork, and how to order your pins, but there are still a few important things to know about creating custom lapel pins. Whether you work with a factory overseas or a custom pin maker like Signature Pins, remember to consider turnaround times and copyright laws that may relate to your pin designs.

Turnaround Times for Custom Pins

Earlier, we mentioned that Signature Pins offers free shipping to all customers. Our turnaround time is 10 days or fewer. That means that when you order your soft enamel pins, our production team will set to work, and once the pins are finished, they’ll be on your doorstep within the next two days.

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As a custom pin maker, we do a lot of shipping and receiving from month to month, making it easy for us to absorb the cost into our standard operations. If you choose to order your pins directly from a factory in China, you will need to pay extra for the same overnight shipping that we offer, or you will have to stick with standard shipping that can take up to 12 weeks.

The next important thing to keep in mind when designing custom lapel pins is copyright.

Designing Pins Using Copyrighted Materials

We cannot create a custom pin design that infringes on copyrighted material or intellectual property without express written consent from the owner of said material. In the custom lapel pin world, designs featuring famous pop culture icons and characters from books and movies are very popular. However, unless you have consent to use copyrighted material in your design, we will be unable to manufacture the pins for you.

If you’re not sure whether or not your design is okay for production, just send us an email or give us a call. We’ll be happy to take a look and let you know if it’s ready for production or if small aspects of the design need to change before you put the pins into production.

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So, How Should You Get Your Custom Pins Manufactured?

At the end of the day, it’s up to you. Here at Signature Pins, our goal is to make the process of designing and manufacturing custom lapel pins as simple and straightforward as possible. If you want a custom pin manufacturer that offers free artwork services, honest and upfront pricing, free overnight shipping, and a 100% quality guarantee, we’ve got you covered.

Working directly with a factory overseas is preferable to some pin designers, but be careful if you decided to work with a factory on your own. There is no way to get a guarantee of quality. Also, between the time difference, language barrier and import costs, getting your pins delivered on time at a good price is not an easy task.

Choosing a custom pin maker like Signature Pins will give you more time to focus on creating fun and unique designs while we take care of production. Send us your artwork today, and get a free pricing quote!

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