Award pins are special kinds of lapel pins which purpose is to mark a person’s achievements or milestones in his chosen field as well as appreciation from organizations and peers. These are a more practical, as well as lightweight and wearable, way of showing one’s pride and honor for having his achievement recognized or being simply appreciated for his work; thus can be a good alternative to the bulky and hard-to-carry trophies and plaques.
Award pins are given by companies to their employees as signs of recognizing their work accomplishments and contributions as well as productivity and morale boosters. These pins also serve as alternative prizes for employees for winning in company sporting events as well as exemplifying sportsmanship instead of medals because of its low manufacturing cost.
Award pins are commonly made of copper sheets but iron sheets can also be used as a cheaper alternative. Traditionally, pin designs are transferred on the metal sheet through stamp-molding and then cut according to the shape of the design. The cut pieces are plated with gold, silver, nickel, or brass. For classic yet monochrome die-struck pins, textures are incorporated in the design to differentiate details from each other – raised areas are polished (except for iron-based pins) while recessed areas are given a sandblasted texture.
Enamel is used in making traditional colored pins. This metalwork technique dates back from the time of the ancient Egyptian empire and then flourished up to the times of the Roman, Byzantine, and ancient Chinese empires. China is well-known for its enameled objects and also artifacts that date back from the 14th century up to present which made them become the top producer of enameled products.
For cloisonné-style pins, the painted enamel is fired at very high temperatures; while soft-enameled pins are bake-dried. Clear epoxy is applied on the pin’s surface to protect the enamel layer. In lapel pin shops, enameled pins are the most expensive due to the high level of craftsmanship applied to them.
Modern pin-making techniques are now used in order to make award pins more affordable. In offset digital process, the pin design is directly printed to the metal base using the traditional CMYK printing process; thus even photos and fine-detailed graphics can now be made into pins. Silkscreen-printed pins are made by layered printing of design details sorted out by color. Photo-etched pins which are said to be cheaper versions of enameled pins are made by transferring the design first using acid and then colored using ink.
Embellishments can be added to lapel pins to add special effects to them. A pin can now have a three-dimensional look by adding another pin on it while dangles or bobbles can be added to a pin to make it more dynamic. There are also pins that are added with movable parts like sliders and spinners as well as pins with LED bulbs although rarely produced these days because of its bulkiness.
Tack-back pins can be secured using butterfly or rubber clutches that are provided for free with the pins. The more secure jewelry clutch can be requested to be provided with the pin for as low as a quarter of a dollar per pin as well as safety pins for just a dime per pin. There are also magnetic and screwed clasps that can be used for the pins instead of tacks and clutches while some pin designs can also be made into cufflinks, key chains, or tie tacks.
Recognizing a person’s exceptional work in his chosen field will never be the same again with the award pins that can make recipients proud of their achievements in their careers as well as their accomplishments in their lives.