Soft Vs Hard Enamel Pins: What Makes them Different and How they’re Made

Enamel pins are back with a vengeance and they’re here to help you to create an impact or make a statement. They’re leaving their mark on everyone! From corporate businesses to local breweries, national sports leagues to communities trying to make a difference, people all over the world are gravitating towards customizing apparel as a way of showing a bit of personality and enamel pins are front and center. We’re here to discuss the differences between soft and hard enamel pins, how they’re made and the benefits they offer. So let’s dive in!

What’s the Difference between Soft Enamel & Hard Enamel?

This is one of most commonly asked questions and the answer is fairly simple. The short answer is,  soft enamel pins have a textured/ridged feel when you can run your finger across them compared to the hard enamel pins that have a smooth, flat finish. The biggest difference between hard and soft enamel is the finished texture. So which one do you choose?

Soft Enamel Pins

You decide what pin type works best for your brand. Soft enamel pins are definitely the most common. This could be because of the way they look and feel. Think of a soft enamel pin like a stamp. They have the raised outline of the design, which prints the design on paper, and the white space from recessed areas. The difference between a stamp and a soft enamel pin is that you have the option to fill the recessed spaces with color enough to keep that textured feel and dimensional look. The raised portion or metal mold acts as a border to keep the enamel dyes from mixing and bleeding into one another.  Now you’re probably wondering how are hard enamel pins any different?

Hard Enamel Pins

So we know that soft enamel pins have raised edges to keep the dye from mixing, right? Hard enamel pins are created in a similar way but instead of keeping the dye below the outline of the design, the enamel dye is added over and over, raising the enamel higher so it’s level with the metal edge, to create a flat finish. It’s then heated at a very high temperature to harden and cure the enamel. It is then polished smooth so it can be at the same level as the metal dye lines.

The differences between soft and hard enamel pins infographic

How are Enamel Pins Made?

Here’s a simplified step-by-step process of how both soft and hard enamel pins are made.

  1. The metal stamp is die-struck or molded into the desired shape and size.
  2. It is then cut into an exact outline of the design.
  3. An attachment is soldered onto the back of the custom design.
  4. The mold is then soaked in the plating liquid.
  5. The coloring is then added to the mold. Soft enamel pins receive one round of added dye whereas hard enamel pins go through several rounds until the dye is flush with the mold’s raised edges.
  6. The enamel pins are cleaned and impurities are removed.
  7. Pins are then sent through an oven to bake.
  8. Finally, a clear epoxy is applied to the pin’s surface to protect the enamel’s color from fading and cracking.

What are the Benefits of Soft & Hard Enamel Pins

Soft enamel pins are versatile and cost effective. They allow for more complex designs compared to hard enamel. For a high quality look and feel, soft enamel pins are easier to produce, making them less expensive for the consumer. However, these pins are not as durable as hard enamel pins.

Hard enamel pins last for years. Although they are slightly higher in price, the quality speaks for itself. They are polished, smooth, and have a bubble-like finish. These pins don’t lose their shine or color over time.  Hard enamel pins do take longer to produce because of the several rounds of coloring involved in the intricate paint application process, thus making them more expensive.

The Diehard Custom Pin Process

The Diehard Custom pin process is authentic comparatively to other design processes. We take pride in our design process, the customer feedback, and the final product that comes from it.

The differences between soft and hard enamel pins infographic

01. Pricing & Info

Now that you know what makes soft and hard enamel pins different, why not start looking into pricing. The price of the product is always dependent on two factors: the size of the pin and the quantity or amount  you’re looking to purchase. Sizes range from 0.75 of an inch to 2 inches and the quantity starts at 50 and can go up to 2,500 pieces.

Looking for pricing? You can find this information here, on the soft enamel pins and hard enamel pins pages.

02. Fill out the form

The form is fairly simple, once you select the pin size and quantity.  If you want to skip a few steps, there are a few things to include in your initial request like:

  • Your team, brand or community logo
  • The amount of colors you would like to see in this design (you can choose up to 8)
  • Additional text you would like to see
  • Any other special requests

03. Design Discussion

Once Diehard Custom receives your request, there is a Q&A series of emails depending on your requests, that will address more design-related topics.

04. Diehard Custom Provides Designs

Depending on the logo or design, we will provide you with 1-2  pin variations for you to review and give feedback on. Fact: Pin designs are free of charge and there are unlimited revisions.

05. Final Design

Once your design is finalized, the production process begins, and soon your order will be shipped directly to you.

06. Put Your Passion on Display

Your order will be delivered about 3 weeks later.  Once you receive your custom products, now it’s time to sport it, sell it, or fundraise for your group, team, or club. Custom pins are simply an excellent way to get your message across.

If you have created custom apparel or accessories with it, share it with us on social @diehardcustom or @diehardscarves and use hashtag #teamdiehard.

A few of our product categories
Custom Scarves
December 8, 2014
Custom Scarves: Why You Need Them and How to Order
January 26, 2015
Supporter Groups: Who are they and why do they exist?
March 6, 2015
The Fundraising Idea You Didn’t Think Of