“How much does it cost to make enamel pins?” Well that is sort of a loaded question. It varies depending on what you need. But, the answer from a simple google search of enamel pins might say something like, “price as low as $0.46 cents per pin”. And yes, that would probably get you excited. But a little research reveals that $0.46 cents relates to the smallest size enamel pin at a quantity of 10,000 pieces. So, unless you are a large corporate customer, you probably need a little more information to understand the full cost of an order of say 100 pins.
Enamel pins are considered a fully customized product. In other words, you design it and the pin manufacturer makes it. With any custom product the cost is based on several factors such as: artwork, quantity, size, thickness, mold/setup, base metal, type of pin, finish, colors, add-ons, attachments, packaging, and shipping method. And since no one batch of pins is the same, the cost of each batch of custom pins is going to be different.
So, let's discuss each factor in a little more depth. Each factor will be phrased as a question since these are the exact questions you will have to answer when you order your custom enamel pins.
The base cost of a pin is determined by quantity and size. The bigger the quantity you order, the lower the price. Likewise, the bigger the size you order, the higher the price. Most pin companies will display a chart on their website that covers pricing ranging from .75 inch up to 2-inch size and quantity ranging from 100 quantity to 10,000 quantity. The quantity options will be listed in a row across the top, and the size options will be listed in the column to the left. As an example, if you were ordering 500 quantity, 1.25-inch size enamel pins you would find the 1.25-inch row on the left side and follow the row over to the 500-quantity column and that would be your base price.
You might ask, what is the minimum pin order? The answer is typically 100 quantity, but some companies will sell a minimum of 50 pins. There is the rare company that will sell one pin, but the cost will be $50 to $100 for a single pin which is not reasonable for most people.
In one word, FREE. One of the best things about buying custom pins, you don’t have to pay for the artwork. Artwork is a necessity so pin companies provide this free service to make the process easy. All that is required from you is some level of description of what you want. FREE artwork makes ordering custom pins a no brainer as you are saving hundreds of dollars in artwork fees. And just to clarify, most artworks are not finalized until they have been through 1-3 revisions. Revisions are also FREE.
Size was briefly discussed above, but there is more you should know. In relation to price, the bigger the pin, the higher the price. The reason is more material is needed to produce the custom pin. Also, the bigger the pin the thicker the pin needs to be so it will not bend. Pins typically range from .75-inch to 2-inch. There is typically a big increase in the base price at 1.5 inch and then again when you go over 2-inches. Most pin companies have standard equipment to handle up to 2-inch pins, but, above that requires special equipment, more material and extra labor thus increasing the cost.
Now let’s answer the question of what is the right enamel pin size? The most common size of lapel pin is 1 or 1.25-inch. This is a good size for most purposes like trade show give-away pins, corporate pins, club pins, organization pins, etc. If you are creating a trading pin you probably want to go 1.5 to 2-inches as bigger is better.
Rarely will you be asked how thick do you want your pin. In the pin world thickness is primarily determined by the size. 1-inch pins are typically 1.2mm thick. 1.5-inch pins are typically closer to 1.5mm thick. However, you can specify a thickness that just costs about 10% more. A thicker pin gives more substance to the feel and quality of the pin so some customers might request a 2mm thick pin even for a 1-inch size pin.
The reason most companies do not sell a single custom pin is because of the mold. Whether you make one pin or 10,000 pins there is the same mold and setup cost. A mold/setup cost is typically $50 for the average pin. So, if only one pin is ordered, the company has to charge at minimum $50 to cover the mold/setup cost. You can also see that the more pins you order the more that $50 can be spread out.
This information is shared just to help you understand there is a mold/setup cost, but in most cases pin companies do not charge you a separate mold/setup charge rather they just absorb the cost in the base price of the pin. One trick a company often uses is when multiple designs are ordered at the same time, they will reduce the piece price of the second pin and just charge the mold cost plus a little extra. This saves you money.
There are 4 standard base metals used in pin manufacturing: iron, brass, copper, and zinc alloy. Iron is the cheapest metal, brass and copper are the most expensive, zinc alloy is the least expensive for large quantities but is most expensive for smaller quantities under 500. The reality is you cannot visually see any difference in a pin based on the base metal used as it is covered with gold or silver. However, there will be a significant difference in price between iron and the other metals so it is good to ask what base metal is used for the price quoted.
Next to size and quantity, pin type has the biggest impact on price. Each type of pin will have its own price chart listed on a company website. Since there are too many prices to list in this post, here is a list of the four primary pin types and the relative cost compared to the other pin types. The more stars the more expensive. In addition, the number to the right of the stars will compare the cost of 100, 1-inch size pins to give you an idea of the variance in cost based on pin type. The prices are only an estimate at time of writing.
Die Cast Pin – 5 Stars - $2.97 per pin
Hard Enamel Pin – 4 Stars - $2.77 per pin
Photodome Pin – 3 Stars - $2.64 per pin
Soft Enamel Pin – 2 Stars - $2.49 per pin
Typically, the cost of the plating is already factored into the price listed on the price chart. However, some companies charge more for gold plating as it is much more expensive than all other plating. Having said that, you might wonder if you have a valuable piece of jewelry (pin) if it is plated in gold. The answer is no. Most custom pins are plated with a very thin layer of gold or silver. Most pins are considered costume jewelry which has about 10 mil thickness of plating. A jewelry quality pin would have close to 100 mil thickness of plating. Jewelry is typically worn against the skin and is susceptible to rubbing so it is made thicker to avoid the gold rubbing off. With costume jewelry (enamel pins) they are not worn against the skin so rubbing is not an issue. If 100mill was used on lapel pins, the price would increase dramatically.
It is worth noting that besides gold and silver finish there is also dyed metal finish. This is a powder coating of sorts that can be done in any color like black, blue, green, red. There is no extra cost for this type of plating, but it is useful to understand because it can really change the look of a pin.
The good news is that most pin companies offer up to 8 colors FREE. In most cases you don’t want to go more than 4-6 colors as that keeps the enamel pin clean looking. At 4-6 colors there is no extra cost. But, in the event you do exceed the eight colors you will pay about $0.04 cents more per color per pin. $0.04 cents may not sound like a lot, and it isn’t, but there have been pins done with 24 colors and that does get a little pricey. And increases the time of production.
When we speak of add-ons, we are referring to extra pieces that get attached to a base pin. People often refer to them as moving parts. You may have heard of danglers, sliders, spinners, blinkie lights, hinges, and chains. Hopefully the words are descriptive enough to help you visualize what it is. Add-ons can get a bit expensive. With the exception of the chain, all the other pin add-ons can add anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 per pin. Why is the cost of pin add-ons so expensive? The answer is easy, you are creating two pins and attaching them together so you are basically paying for two pins.
Last but not least are pin attachments. You can’t have a pin unless you have a way to pin it. Because this is an assumed feature of the enamel pin it comes with a FREE attachment. The most standard attachment is the butterfly clutch or military clutch. These are gold or silver and are FREE. The next most common, and quickly becoming the most popular, is the rubber clutch. The rubber clutch is also FREE. Either of these clutches holds equally well.
As with most products, there are upgrades and other options to consider. The deluxe clutch and magnet back are the most prominent. The deluxe clutch is a locking clutch and ensures you will never lose your pin because the clutch fell off. It typically adds $0.35 cents per pin but is strongly recommended if the pin will be used as a tie tack. The magnet back is exactly that, two very strong magnets that hold the pin to the clothing. One magnet is secured on the back of the pin, the second is free to be removed to go behind the clothing. Typically, a magnet set costs $1.00 per pin. It is a little more expensive but for those that are concerned about poking holes in clothing it is a perfect solution.
You’ve heard packaging can turn a $5 trinket into a perceived $25 gift. This is very true with custom pins. Because most pins are used for promotional purposes and purchased in bulk, packaging is not common on most orders. However, if the purpose of your pins is to sell, gift, reward, or recognize adding nice packaging will really make your presentation. There are several packaging options to consider: backer card, plastic hinged box, and velvet hinged box. It just depends on your presentation as to what option you choose. Custom pins are by default packaged in small individual poly bags. This prevents them from being scratched in shipping and allows them to be distributed easily.
Backer cards are a great way to package for resell because they can be hung or provide excellent branding. Backer cards work best if bought in large volume but for an order of 100 pins the cost is roughly $175 flat fee. This includes assembling the pins on the backer card and covering with a clear OPP bag to protect the pin and the card. Plastic boxes add $0.50 cents per box and typically have a clear top so the pin can be seen while the lid is shut. Velvet boxes do not have a clear top, but have a more jewelry quality look and feel. Typically, you can expect to pay about $1.50 per black velvet box.
This is it, the last thing you need to consider. Pins are made, double checked and packaged and now you just need them delivered to your door. Pin companies handle shipping in different ways. Some price their pins lower and then charge for shipping. Others build their shipping cost into the price of the pin and offer FREE shipping. Either way, the pins will arrive in the same amount of time. So, it is fair to say shipping is FREE and you won’t have to worry about shipping them from China and paying customs and duty charges as all this is handled by the pin company.
The only time you may need to pay extra is if you have an urgent required date and need special shipping to make it happen.
If you have made it this far, good for you, you will be much smarter than the average bin buyer. Or if you just jumped to the end because you can’t bear to read all the above detail, here is a quick summary.
The best pin companies offer a single price that includes most of the basics. The worst pin companies offer a low price, then nickel and dime you for what should be included standard. You be the judge.
Artwork – FREE
Quantity – pricing ranges from quantities of 100 to 10,000+ in increments of 100. See price chart.
Size – pricing ranges from sizes of .5 inch to 3+ inch. See price chart.
Thickness – Included in price, unless you request a non-standard thickness.
Mold/Setup – FREE
Base Metal – Included in price, depending on type of pin chosen.
Type of pin – pricing ranges depending on type. See specific price chart.
Finish – FREE
Colors – FREE
Add-ons – pricing ranges depending on specific add-on.
Attachments – FREE unless you upgrade.
Packaging – pricing ranges depending on the specific packaging.
Shipping - FREE