Every day we get questions from new and previous customers exploring our vast range of custom promotional products and we always get hit with new questions. These ‘Product Overview’ blog posts are a series of posts exploring our vast custom made product range, we go into serious detail so you leave wiser and more prepared to make decisions on what type of custom merchandise will be best for your business. This posts looks at the differences between soft enamel Keyrings and hard enamel Keyrings. Let’s go!
“What Is the Difference Between Soft Enamel Keyrings and Hard Enamel Keyrings?”
We get asked this question a lot. As well as:
“What Is the Difference Between Soft Enamel Badges and Hard Enamel Badges?”
Firstly, it’s worth noting custom enamel Keyrings and custom enamel badges are the same product. The only real difference is the enamel Keyrings have a loop or keychain attachment usually on the top of the metal base added during the molding stage. And enamel badges have a pin shaft soldered onto the back of the metal badge after molding. The soft and hard ‘enameling’ stage is the exact same for both custom products. So:
What Is the Difference Between Soft Enamel and Hard Enamel?
The big difference between soft and hard enamel is the look and feel of the final product as well as price.
Hard enamel keyrings and hard enamel badges start off as soft enamel products, in that hard enamel is an additional step after the soft enamel stage has been achieved. Soft enamel products have recessed enamel into specified die lines in the shape of your design, perhaps 0.3mm to 0.5mm below the metal lines. These die lines form the outlines of your design, they separate all of your enamel colours from merging. The smallest we can make these lines is 0.2mm for soft enamel and 0.4mm for hard enamel, roughly speaking. S consider this when designing your badge or keyring in design software. If you are sending in a sketch, we will take care of that.
The Big Step and Difference Between Soft and Hard Enamel!
The big step comes when the enamel badges are sanded and polished down to form what we call ‘hard enamel’ (keyrings or badges). The keyrings or badges are placed on a large grip in large numbers and very carefully and gently sanded down, bit by bit sanding the top layer metal off of the badge or keyring base. This slowly but surely makes the metal flush with the enamel paints and this is what we call hard enamel. It’s the same process of polishing scratches out of your car paint, just on a large scale!
Slight Drawback with Custom Hard Enamel Products
One drawback to hard enamel pins and keyrings is the die-lines become slightly ‘softer’ in appearance and this is why we can not have as much detail due to the sanding stages. But don’t worry about this, you can still achieve great detail with our custom hard enamel products. If you are unsure you can always send in your design and we can best advise you.
Soft Enamel is Hard Enamel!
Soft enamel is not ‘soft’ by any means, it’s the same stiffness as ‘hard’ enamel products. The term ‘soft’ was coined as a way to distinguish a newer type manufacturing process for enamel badges many decades ago, i.e. ‘soft enamel’. You can read more about that in this History of Enamel Pin Badges article we wrote!
Soft Enamel Keyrings
- Soft enamel keyrings (and badges) have a textured feel to the design
- Cheaper to produce
- Faster turnaround time
- Designs can be more detailed and intricate
- Can have epoxy coating to protect enamel and achieve a certain look
Hard Enamel Keyrings
- Hard Enamel Keyrings are more luxurious looking when done right
- Less prone to chipping
- Can have screen printed details on the surface of hard enamel products
- High quality feel in the hand
Which Product Should I Choose? Hard or Soft Enamel?
There is no right or wrong way to go about choosing hard or soft enamel keyrings or badges. It all comes down to personal preference. But if you did want some advice here is what we can suggest.
Both hard and soft enamel products look amazing and serve the same purpose and achieve the same goals. So how do you decide which one is for you?
Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges Analysis and Review
Hard Enamel Keyrings for Rugged Environments
As mentioned above, our hard enamel keyrings start off as soft enamel keyrings, and without the sanding and polishing stages they would remain soft enamel. The hard enamel process begins by sanding and polishing the top layer of the metal badge flush with the enamel. This also secures the hardened enamel in place more so than soft enamel products. Remember we mentioned the die-lines becoming ‘softer’ in appearance? When we polish down the metal these lines ‘spread out’ on the top sealing in the enamel which makes it virtually impossible for the enamel to either fall out or become chipped and cracked. Don’t worry, this does not happen to soft enamel, but under certain circumstances it could happen (but we have not had any complaints yet).
Hard Enamel Keyrings for Luxurious Environments
Our hard enamel keyrings and badges have a super luxurious feel and appearance to them! This is a huge benefit to those companies and brands who are dealing with clients’ who like the finer things in life. Our polishing on hard enamel keyrings and badges go through extra stages to ensure that not one scratch is present, leaving your finished enamel products more like a mirror than enamel. If you did want a super super luxurious looking keyrings or badges, we suggest our die struck or die cast badges or die struck or die cast keyrings. These have no enamel inlaid and instead are simply plated in one of over 21 plating options such as silver, gold, nickel, black nickel to name a few. But if you do need colour in your high quality luxurious keyrings and badges, hard enamel is the way to go!
Target Audience for Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges
We would suggest hard enamel keyrings and badges to outdoors companies whose customers will be putting their keyrings and badges through the elements Sporting brands whose clientele will be active and carrying lots of sporting gear. Estate agents selling and renting property and who want to show their customers they value their business. Offering hard enamel keyrings to new home owners is that finishing touch class on a £500,000 sale.
Student accommodation companies who have 1000s of students every year come and go, we can number each keyring sequentially that corresponds with dorm or room numbers. High end property management agents who are dealing with properties of £500,000 to £1,00,000+. The costs of 100 or 300 hard enamel keyrings are a drop in the ocean but they are able to make big waves. It’s those small details that humans remember. Remember, business is about people, show them that you care!
Soft Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Soft Enamel Keyrings for Graphic Designers and Illustrators
We love soft enamel keyrings and badges due to their playful nature. We have found over the years our graphic designer and illustrator clients’ certainly prefer our custom soft enamel keyrings and badges over hard enamel. This may be due to the fact we can always achieve more detail and add more colours with our soft enamel products, as there is no sanding and polishing stages as mentioned above. Soft enamel keyrings and badges are slightly more affordable than hard enamel keyrings and badges, this is due to there being no requirement for sanding and polishing, so less production time needed. This means a faster turnaround time and a more cost effective approach.
Soft Enamel Keyrings and Badges for Corporate / Charity Fundraisers
Why? We are able to turn soft enamel keyrings and soft enamel badges around much faster if required. 2 weeks’ time if the requirements call for it! This is our super rush service and you would need to enquire about it via email or phone. As well as speed, the soft enamel products as mentioned above have a more colourful and playful look to them, this could aid greatly in attracting purchases from event attendees and staff alike. Soft enamel has a much less serious feel to them and the aim of raising money for charity is to make people feel good about supporting an important cause in need of financial input. Choose soft enamel products for this.
Target Audience for Soft Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Once again there is no hard and fast rule here. It’s all down to personal preference but we would suggest our soft enamel products for those in the graphic design community, or those who run brands and businesses that need to get attention quickly. Soft enamel products have a more playful and pop culture feel to them. They are less serious looking than their hard enamel counterparts. As well as having a much faster turnaround time (2 weeks if required). For clients on a budget soft enamel will be the option as they are generally 10% to 15% cheaper than hard enamel.
Other Options to Consider When Customising Soft Enamel or Hard Enamel Keyrings or Badges
The customisation does not stop there! Studio Dais was one of the first companies to allow you to take your customisation further and make it even easier to do so. On most of our custom product pages we have an award winning live price feature which shows you an up to date price as and when you change ANY of the options.
If you switch from 30mm to 40mm, we let you know right away. If you switch from gold plating to black nickel plating, it tells you EXACTLY how much you would be charged! No hidden costs, no black hat salesmanship, just good honest easy to use customisation software we have developed from the ground up!
If you look at the picture above, you will see a screen grab from the soft enamel keyrings page, you can clearly see all the options available to you, and as you change the options, the live price feature changes so you know exactly what it will cost. Let’s take a look at the ‘extra options’ which is a secret drop down box for further customisation.
Epoxy Coating for Soft Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Why would you epoxy coat soft enamel products?
The epoxy coating starts life as a thick gooey substance, it is carefully placed over your soft enamel product and cured over time. Once dried the epoxy becomes hard and crystal clear, meaning your soft enamel product now has a protective coating over the entire badge. This adds a little touch of luxury and can be added to your order for as little as £0.03p per badge or keyring. Not bad!
Sequential Numbers for Soft and Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Sequential numbers are can be used in a number of different ways for maximum effect!
If you run a small coffee shop, you could have 100 keyrings handed out to special customers and those who return on a regular basis. With the keyrings or badges being sequentially numbered you can keep track of the most valuable customers who are liable to get more free cake or coffee! Nice! Or if you are a students’ accommodation provider, and you have 500 rooms to offer, each year all of the 500 students would each get a keyring with your estate agent branding on both sides.
For example, 001 to 250 and up to 500. We can laser etch these on for £0.25p per item. If the keys are lost and handed in, you know exactly who to return the keys to. You might be an independent clothing brand and you want to give out 100 die struck keyrings to the first 100 people to purchase a limited edition item of clothing on your website. The first to buy the products get the keyrings such as 001, 002 etc. We can also etch personalized greetings on each item. Please get in touch and enquire about this today!
Glow in The Dark Effect for Soft and Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges
This is a great option and one we are seeing becoming more popular. Glow in the dark effect when used correctly is very effective. You could highlight important details of your design such as the eyes, teeth or text. We find this option is popular around the Halloween time, for obvious reasons.
Glitter Effect for Soft and Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Glitter effect for soft or hard enamel keyrings and badges is a great option for those who want to stand out a little. The glitter is mixed in with the enamel for a highly translucent and shiny look. Glitter bounces light around for a truly sparkling effect that no one is going to miss. We can do small parts of your badge or all of it. If you select ‘1 colour’ glitter option, any part of your badge in that colour will be with added glitter. You just need to specify this in your artwork, or if you don’t have finished artwork, tell us via email.
Back Stamping for Soft and Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Back stamping your soft and hard enamel keyrings and badges is a really effective way to maximize dead space. The back of your keyrings or badges is prime retail space and an opportunity to say something more about your business or brand. You could have your slogan, maybe your website or even your logo or anything else. We will help you understand what is possible during our emails after you have purchased, or get in touch now and ask us about this option. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a little more of your investments!
Silkscreen Printing for Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Silkscreen printing is for hard enamel keyrings and hard enamel badges only. We can not silk screen details onto soft enamel products. Silk screening works by using a fine mesh (silk screen) and pushing paint through specified holes that only when viewed from a distance do you see what it adds up to (your design details). We will silk screen small details like eye colour, text, line details onto your hard enamel products. We can not do gradients or blends with silkscreen printing. If you are unsure about this option, please get in touch and ask us how you could benefit from this option.
Backing Cards for Soft and Hard Enamel Keyrings and Badges
Although backing cards are normally associated with our custom made badges, we can also offer them for your custom made keyrings. Due to badges having pins, we can pierce the backing card with the pin and close the clutch on the back of the card. This looks great when presented to clients and the backing cards have contact information as well as key branding messages. With custom enamel keyrings we can simply place the keyring in a clear pouch with backing card and keyring all in one nice ready to hand over package. For this option just select backing cards in the drop down menu or ask us about this option through email.
To Conclude on Soft Enamel Vs Hard Enamel Keyrings
That brings this article to a close. We hope you have found it enlightening and it has cleared up some confusing things regarding soft enamel and hard enamel keyrings.
If you still have other questions not answered here, please feel free to get in touch with us and we will happily answer your questions in-depth. We love to guide our clients through the wilderness of custom made merchandise!
You can contact us HERE!