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A member's of 109th Congress lapel pin

A lapel pin (also called "button" or "badge") is a small pin often worn on the lapel of a dress jacket. Lapel pins can be purely ornamental or can indicate the wearer's affiliation with an organization or cause; for example, American Flag lapel pins became very popular in the United States, especially among politicians, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Contents

Popular Usage

Lapel pins are frequently used as symbols of achievement and belonging in different organizations. Fraternities and sororities use lapel pins as the primary symbol for their organizations. Members wear the pins to meetings and special events to show their belonging to the organization. Lapel pins from the organization are often collected by members and non-members alike.

Businesses also use lapel pins to designate achievement and membership. Lapel pins are a common element of employee recognition programs, and they are presented to individuals as a symbol of an accomplishment.[1] Like fraternity and sorority pins, these lapel pins instill a sense of belonging to an elite group of performers at the organization. Businesses also award lapel pins to employees more frequently to boost employee morale, productivity and employee engagement.[2]

Cultural Significance

In the USSR and the People's Republic of China, the prominent lapel pins with portraits of Lenin and Mao Tse Tung, respectively, were worn by youth as well as by Communist party members or people who felt like showing their official political credo. In Czechoslovakia the Mao badges/pins were worn in the late 1960s and early 1970s by non-conformist youth as a prank and a way to provoke the "normalisationist" reactionaries of the purged post-1968 Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.

In the 1970s, initiates of Guru Maharaj Ji extensively used buttons, sometimes quite large, with images of the guru's face on them.[3][4]

Modern Manufacturing Process

Almost all manufacturing is currently done in China, specifically in and around Kunshan, a satellite city in the greater Suzhou region that is administratively at the county-level in southeast Jiangsu, China, just outside Shanghai. Inexpensive labor in China has made U.S. production of lapel pins non-existent.

In the die struck manufacturing process there are five basic types of pins: cloisonné, soft enamel, photo etched, screen printed and 4-color printed. In all processes, the outer shape of the pin is stamped out from a sheet of steel, aluminum, copper, brass or iron. In the case of cloisonne and soft enamel, the shape and the design are stamped out.

Cloisonné
Sometimes called epola or hard enamel, cloisonné is stamped out from a sheet of copper. The stamping leaves recessed areas, or pools, which are filled with enamel powder and high fired at 800 - 900 degrees[5]. After cooling, the surface of the pin is ground down to a smooth finish and then the copper is plated.

Soft Enamel
This process is like epola and cloisonné in that strips of metal separate areas of color. Unlike cloisonné, the areas of color rest below the metal strip surface, which can be felt when you run your finger over the surface. Like the photo etched process, the top can be covered with protective epoxy[6] so that the piece appears smooth.

Photo Etched
In the photo etch process, only the shape of the piece is stamped out. The design on the face of the pin, is chemically etched into the base metal, then color-filled by hand and baked before being polished. In the final step, a thin coat of clear epoxy can be applied to the surface[7].

Screen Printed
Screen printing, a.k.a. silk screening is produced by applying each color to the metal base using a "silk screen" process. These are blocks of solid color.[8] A very thin epoxy coat protects the color material from scratching.

4-Color Process
4-colors process, a.k.a. offset printing, allows for bleeds and blends of colors, as is used in magazines. The colors are printed in the traditional CMYK process. This style is can be used for complex art and photo reproduction. An unlimited amount of colors can be used[9].

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Lapel Pin: The Real Story"
  2. ^ "Esurance Uses Lapel Pin Recognition to Boost Associate Morale"
  3. ^ Elman, Richard. "Godhead Hi-Jinx", Creem, March 1974
  4. ^ Levine, Richard (March 14, 1974). "When The Lord of All The Universe Played Houston: Many are called but few show up", Rolling Stone Magazine, pp. 36–50. Also in Dahl, Shawn; Kahn, Ashley; George-Warren, Holly (1998). Rolling stone: the seventies. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 102-105. ISBN 0-316-75914-7.
  5. ^ "Custom Products". Condor Creations. 2009-02. http://condorcreations.com/price/. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  6. ^ "Materials". Delta Spark. 2008-01. http://deltaspark.com/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=37. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  7. ^ "Photo Etched Lapel pins". All About Pins. 2008-08. http://www.allaboutpins.com/photoetched.html. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  8. ^ "Silk Screen Printed Lapel pins". Lapel Pin Express. 2008-08-01. http://www.lapelpinsexpress.com/silkscreen.html. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  9. ^ "Printed Lapel Pins". Kunshan Huain Lapel Pins. 2009-01-05. http://www.hilapelpins.com/printed-pins/printed-pins.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
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