How We Create and Customize Our ID Products

At Inland Products, we have over 75 years of combined experience delivering high quality identification products—including tags, metal labels, and nameplates —at competitive prices. Equipped with decades of industry experience and a manufacturing facility stocked with state-of-the-art etching, engraving, and printing machines, our expert team has the expertise and equipment necessary to offer customization options and timelines that vastly exceed our competitor’s offerings.

Our ability to craft superior products derives in part from our willingness to explore different manufacturing methods as they suit various products. Some of the processes we use to create and customize our identification products include:

  • Laser etching
  • Mechanical engraving
  • Digital printing
  • Coining
  • Tool and die manufacturing
  • Metal stamping
  • Metalphoto printing
  • Aluminum anodizing

Laser Etching

Laser etching is a versatile marking option suitable for use with a wide variety of metal materials. The process begins with a digital file representing the desired text or design. Once the customer approves the design, computerized controls guide a precise laser across the surface of the metal to impose the design. As the laser passes, it superheats portions of the metal, removing the exact amount of surface material necessary to achieve a lightly etched, high contrast design. While a laser etching has little to no physical depth, the markings produced on a tag, nameplate, or other ID product are permanent and resist wear over time.

Laser Etching Applications

Some of the typical parts produced through our laser etching operations include:

  • Electrical panels
  • Name badges
  • Parts with logos or images
  • Promotional items
  • Tags and serial numbers

Mechanical Engraving

Similar to laser etching operations, mechanical engraving operations involve guiding a tool across a metal workpiece according to a computerized design. The main difference is that mechanical engraving yields deeper markings since the process uses physical cutting tools rather than lasers. As their markings are deeper, mechanically engraved ID products last for decades, even under extreme conditions.

Mechanical Engraving Applications

Mechanically engraved products find application in many locations, including:

  • Chemical plants
  • Harsh environments
  • Heavy machinery
  • Tools
  • Valves

Digital Printing

Etching and engraving operations physically alter the surface of the metal workpiece. If such alteration is undesirable or if more complex designs are necessary, digital printing serves as a more suitable manufacturing process.

At Inland Products, we use an advanced digital printing system—DuraPrint™—that allows us to replicate intricate and complex designs on anodized aluminum. Once the design is printed on the surface of the ID product, we use a state-of-the-art sealing process to render the print permanent. A sealed digital print resists abrasion, corrosion, moisture, humidity, and graffiti and can be cleaned using standard industrial solvents without fading.

Digital Printing Applications

Digitally printed products we produce include:

  • Barcodes
  • Full-color designs
  • Machine data plates
  • Permanent anti-theft labels
  • Product labels and nameplates
  • Safety and warning labels

Coining

Coining is a closed die forging process that employs a die and high pressures to produce permanent marks on a metal workpiece. The use of a die allows for efficient and consistent replication of the custom design. The coining process is primarily suitable for applications requiring durable components or high volumes.

Coining Applications

Some of the products we produce in our coining operations include: • Cable line markers

  • Equipment tags
  • Industrial meters
  • Machine and tool identification parts
  • Tree and plant IDs
  • Valve tags

Tool and Die Manufacturing

We maintain a team of expert machinists to accommodate requests that call for custom fixtures, dies, molds, and other manufacturing tools. By employing these professionals on-site, we are able to reduce lead times and expedite custom orders, resulting in lower prices and faster turnaround.

Tool and Die Manufacturing Applications

Our on-site tool and die making team regularly makes:

  • Custom shapes
  • Molds
  • Machine and cutting tools
  • Special fixtures

Metal Stamping

Thus far, we’ve primarily discussed techniques used for adding a design to the surface of an ID product. However, before we perform these customization operations, we first produce the base products. To accomplish this task, we use metal stamping. Metal stamping operations use stamping dies and heavy-duty punch presses to produce large quantities of stamped tags, nameplates, or other ID products. Compared to manual manufacturing processes, metal stamping generates parts with greater efficiency. As an additional benefit, the method is extremely consistent and achieves more predictable results. Even where a custom size or shape is required, it’s often more cost-effective to create a custom die than to manually cut individual components by hand.

Metal Stamping Applications

Metal stamping is suitable for projects that require:

  • Large production runs
  • Custom sizes or shapes
  • Consistent part sizes and shapes
  • Tight tolerances
  • Low production costs

Metalphoto Printing

Metalphoto printing—also known as photosensitive anodized aluminum printing—is a digital printing process that uses silver halide instead of ink. Similar to other digital printing techniques, designs produced through metalphoto printing are sealed into the aluminum surface to ensure corrosion, abrasion, temperature, and chemical resistance.

Compared to other digital printing processes, metalphoto printing offers:

  • Greater resistance to fading even under direct sunlight, making them suitable for outdoor applications
  • Higher resolutions
  • Better durability and longevity

Metalphoto Printing Applications

The metalphoto printing process is used to produce a wide range of durable products, such as:

  • Barcodes
  • Control panels
  • Graffiti-proof surfaces
  • Machine data plates
  • Military-spec compliant parts
  • Nameplates
  • Non-color outdoor products

Aluminum Anodizing

Many ID product customization processes begin with anodized parts, including digital printing, metalphoto printing, and etching. The reason for this requirement is simple: anodized aluminum is harder and more durable than its raw counterpart, allowing it to perform more effectively and for longer.

Anodizing is an electrochemical process that results in the formation of aluminum oxide on the surface of the workpiece. The oxidation serves as an additional surface layer that grants the metal its enhanced durability and anti-corrosive characteristics. Although we primarily recommend the aluminum anodizing process for its strength and durability benefits, it also remains the simplest way to apply a solid color to a nameplate, tag, or other ID product.

At Inland Products, our in-house anodizing capabilities allow us to achieve clear or custom-colored finishes, translating to greater part design flexibility. Our manufacturing facility is equipped with anodizing tanks capable of accommodating parts up to 24 inches by 120 inches.

Aluminum Anodizing Applications

Products we process in our aluminum anodizing operations include:

  • Control panels
  • Identification tags
  • Machine data plates
  • Nameplates
  • Non-color outdoor products

Let Inland Help You Create Your Custom ID Product

At Inland Products, we manufacture a wide range of custom tags, labels, and nameplates. By partnering with us for their identification product needs, customers benefit from our:

  • Advanced creation and customization capabilities. We create ID products with non-color and full-color custom designs using several different processes, including anodizing, laser etching, metalphoto printing, digital printing, and more.
  • Quick turnaround times. We offer competitive turnarounds from the moment you submit your RFQ, often generating an accurate cost estimate within minutes. From there, we draw on our extensive stock, tooling specialists, and advanced machinery to create your order in as little as 24 hours.
  • Quality products and superior services. Whether you’re seeking a permanent engraving or a cost-effective, high volume production run, we work with you to fulfill your order with a lasting, affordable product that meets your specifications.

To learn more about our custom identification products and the processes we use to create and customize them, contact our team today. For project pricing and lead time information, request a free quote.