Difference between Hard and Soft Enamel Pins – Which One to Choose

Updated on March 18, 2021

After finalizing the design of enamel pins for my college band, I knew there are two different directions to choose from, and I was not sure which one to select, whether I should go for a hard enamel or soft enamel pins. For this, I researched a lot and eventually found some helpful information that everyone should know. 

Mainly, the finished texture is the key thing that represents the difference between hard enamel and soft enamel pins. On the whole, soft enamel pins are not much durable though they are affordable and let you enjoy more design and color options. On the other hand, hard enamel pins are solid, scratch-resistant, and come up with great quality finishing.

Choosing hard enamel or soft enamel is the most important thing besides color options, artwork, or backer design.  

Significance of Soft Enamel Pins

So, how important soft enamel pins are?

Let’s find out: 

Soft enamel is one of the trendiest types of pins that have an elevated look, and many people like this feature. The enamel pins are baked in the oven other than hard enamel pins for making the enamel sturdy and cured. 

Do you know that the metal plating process is done before the enamel filling in soft enamel pins? However, it is a different thing in comparison with hard enamel pins. It simply shows that some metal finishes only on soft enamel.  

Soft enamel gives you a chance to choose more than one color as per your choice.

Significance of Soft Enamel Pins 

Let’s find out how crucial hard enamel pins are: 

Unlike soft enamel pins, hard enamel pins are made more robust, durable, and scratch-resistant. As they have a clean finishing look, that’s why people prefer them more. Well, many designs exist that are compatible to work with both soft enamel as well as hard enamel. 

So, in most cases, it mainly depends upon you. Both enamel pins go through different procedures. Let’s have a look at the process: 

Production Procedure 

Basically, both enamel pins’ production procedure is almost the same, starting from making a mold then punching it or forming the plating of pins. In the end, the pin perfection procedure diverges and appears in the form of different steps. 

Soft Enamel Pin Construction 

After the completion of plating, you need to follow three further steps for a soft enamel pin. 

  • Electroplating or Dying the Plating

In this process, you have to put an external layer of metal such as silver or gold in order to make the base of the pin. The base can be of iron or zinc alloy, and the plating can be done with color. 

  • Enameling 

Putting liquid-colored enamel in the cavities of the metal base is the next step. For soft enamel pins, you don’t need to fill up the cavity fully. Eventually, you can feel the elevated metal edges in soft enamel pins. 

  • Baking 

Lastly, the pin sets in an oven to bake, and it lets the enamel fix according to the design.

Hard Enamel Pin Construction 

The procedure of hard enamel pin construction is entirely different. 

  • Enamel Filling

In hard enamel pins, each cavity is not filled partially because you have to overfill it with enamel. Moreover, keep in mind that enamel filling needs to be done before electroplating. 

  • Baking 

Once each color of enamel is added, now it’s time to bake it. In case you want to add 5 or 6 colors, it needs to be baked 5 to 6 times.  

  • Polishing 

Once the overfilled enamel gets baked, it is time to polish. The plating needs to be leveled and smooth; that’s why the polishing procedure takes place.

  • Electroplating 

You tend to put a thin coating of metal on the exposed iron or zinc edges in the process. Also, remember that you are supposed to use glittery metals such as gold or silver. 

Let’s talk about some pros and cons of soft enamel and hard enamel pins: 

Soft Enamel Pin Pros and Cons

Soft enamel allows you to use any color to dye base metal, and it is one of the main benefits.

  • Considerably less expensive than hard enamel pins 
  • A bit thinner base metal is used 
  • Paint does not level with the surface 
  • Any color can be used to dye base metal rather than nickel, bronze, or gold 
  • Paint does not dry easily and bonds to metal 
  • Better Shiny enamels work 

Hard Enamel Pins Pros and Cons 

Quality is the thing that you can see easily in hard enamel pins. Generally, this process is preferred for uniforms, logo pins, and employee service awards. Basically, this process was introduced in the ’70s as a substitute for Cloisonne (a glass-based enamel process used earlier to invent epoxy enamel). 

  • Paint gets leveled with the surface 
  • The Quality feature is highly prominent 
  • About 40 percent more expensive 
  • Ideally matched with transparent enamels 
  • Has the feature of jewelry 
  • The Paint does not get dry soon
  • Tackles details better than soft enamel 

Bottom Line 

Now, you are much aware of soft enamel and hard enamel pins. You can choose easily by keeping the key differences in mind. You don’t need to worry about your pin’s looks; whatever enamel you choose, it will look nice and stylish. 

For professional pins, you need to follow proper safety measures after considering the different procedures of both enamel pins. In most cases, both enamel pins are worthy enough to invest

Have a great pin design, and enjoy wearing it! 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.