EAST POINT FOUNDRY
How is a Custom Plaque Made?
Custom plaques are special. They are a big reflection of both the recipient and the giver. They tell you how important the recipient is and how honorable the giver must be. For such an important tablet, a lot goes into making it the beauty you so much admire.
Every plaque comprises three major parts. They are the backboard, the underplate, and the top plate.
The backboard is the foundation on which the custom plaque is built. It is most usually made of wood materials like maple, alder, oak, cherry and walnut. Wood composite can also be used. This would have been wrapped and finish to have a wooden look. It could also be painted black.
For the underplate, a piece of metal is cut to size and attached to the backboard with the help of powerful adhesive. This is what serves as a beautiful border for the main plate, which is the top plate.
The top plate is the most important one, on which words are engraved. This is where the award text is engraved with the name of the recipient. If there is a logo for the company presenting the award, this is also where it goes. Any other necessary information is added to this part of the custom plaque.
So, how do you engrave the information? Usually, this is done using a laser. This process is known as precision etching. It is how intricate designs are made with precision. There are also other times when the top plates are printed instead. The print method is usually done to add elements such as a photo, four-color logo, certificate, or newspaper article.
For glass plaques or acrylic plaques, a similar manufacturing technique is followed. The main difference is in the part that is replaced. While only the top plate is replaced with glass when glass plaques are made, the entire plaque could be made out of high-quality custom engraved acrylic for acrylic plaques.
Now that the plaque is almost ready, a design is done to help with mounting the plaque or making it stand. Sometimes, to make it mountable, the plaque could have a hardware installed to its back. Other times, the plaque itself could be designed in such a way that allows vertical or horizontal mounting.
Not all custom plaques are mountable. Some may have easel backs that allow them to stand on their own on desks or shelves.
What are the Differences Between a Cast Bronze and a Cast Aluminum Plaque?
Cast bronze plaques and cast aluminum plaques are some of the most common types of custom plaques. Each has its unique qualities. These qualities set the difference between them and determine their use.
Cast Bronze Plaques
The outstanding quality of the cast bronze plaque lies in how exceptionally durable it is. As an alloy made majorly of copper and tine, its strength and hardness surpass that of any other common metal alloy, except stainless steel. This is why cast bronze plaques are the ideal choice for plaques that have to be exposed to the weathers.
They make excellent commemorative plaques, standard signage, and memorials inset into the ground. They can adequately withstand different types of harsh weather conditions, especially with their clear lacquer finishing, which acts as extra protection.
Their strength also makes them suitable for heavy foot traffic, so they make fine plaques to be installed under foot. Between bronze and aluminum, bronze has been around for way longer in the business of plaque crafting.
So, bronze plaques are well known for their rich tradition and strength, while also showing distinction and class. The true chemical patina applied on them also creates an unmistakable luster. This patina is known to hold up better than either paint of stain.
Cast Aluminum Plaques
There are also many unique qualities you could find with cast aluminum plaques. One of the most unique benefits is how lighter in weight it is when compared to cast bronze plaques. This is because the aluminum material is a much softer metal.
This shouldn’t be seen as weakness, as aluminum plaques also hold up fine against various harsh weather conditions. Nevertheless, they cannot handle as much pressure as cast bronze plaques. So, it is recommended for them to be inset into the ground or fixed in high-usage areas.
Because of the beautiful silver coloring that aluminum plaques are known for, they look sleek and contemporary, making a perfect adornment in modern buildings that have a materials palette of steel and glass.
You can paint these plaques’ background virtually any color, giving them a nice touch perfect for corporate logo plaques. They also work great for any other design where it is important for the company’s color to be displayed.
Aluminum plaques make great alternatives when you can’t afford bronze plaques, but still want a large plaque that is durable. Aluminum plaques strike a perfect balance between durability and affordability.
What Are Examples of Memorial Nameplates?
Memorial nameplates are history markers designed to preserve a person or an event in memory. They are made in different designs and styles. Some of these are listed below:
Cast Bronze Memorials
These are memorials built from traditional and durable cast bronze. They can stand extreme weathers and are virtually maintenance-free. These work great as memorials because of how classy they can be and how strong they are, even when left in the open.
Engraved Brass Memorial Plaque
Brass has a long tradition of usage as material for memorial plaques. The engravings are made in script font with the letters unpainted. Sometimes, they can be filled with colors if they are deep enough.
Laminate Memorial Plaques
These are very durable, weather-proof, and UV resistant plaques made from flexible acrylic. They are great for maintenance-free memorial plaques. To show the color underneath, the first layer of laminate is where the letters are engraved. Usually, the appropriate look is silver and black.
Stone-like Corian Memorial Plaques
This is a modern material that is given a cold stone-like finish. It is highly durable and fade-proof. It is also virtually maintenance-free. With this, you can have your small inscriptions engraved and paint-filled. It comes in various colors. It also has the advantage of being able to engrave and paint fill, small letters.
Black or Colored Anodized Aluminum
These maintenance-free plaques look smart and ideal for memorial plaques. They are made from black or colored anodized aluminum. To show the silver color underneath, the letters are expertly engraved through the base black or colored layer of laminate.
Photo and Full Color Memorial Plaques
These are made from tough anodized aluminum on which photos and words are digitally printed. This is an increasingly popular way to keep the memories of loved ones fresh in our digital age.
Stone Lawn Memorials
These lovely stone lawn memorial tablets, as the name suggests, are designed to be set into the lawn. They are made from slate or thick granite of varying thicknesses.
Natural Wooden Memorials
Many people find the natural feel of wooden memorial plaques very beautiful, elegant, and appropriate. Oak memorials are beautiful applications of these.
Wooden Caskets & Urns
Usually made from solid oak or mahogany, wooden caskets and urns are designed to carry cremated ashes. These urns are considered the most appropriate for keeping the ashes of a loved one or burying the ashes in a cemetery.
Slate memorials are memorials made from traditional slate materials, with the lettering either sand blasted directly into slate or the background blasted away while the lettering is left proud.
Porcelain memorial plaques are made from translucent porcelain to provide a completely fade-resistant permanent outdoor memorial. These can be used alone or, if required, mounted onto wooden or stone plaques.
What Are the Commercial Applications for Castings?
Castings are very relevant in our industries today. They have helped reduce costs and eliminate the strenuous tasks of assembly and inventory. They are also more efficiently and completely recyclable than plastics. This is why it is being applied in a wide range of sector today. Below are a few of these:
Machine tools: Casting, forging, plastics molding, machining, forming and extrusion.
Heavy equipment: Farming, mining and construction.
Transport: Aerospace, automobile, railways and shipping.
Plant machinery: Petroleum, chemical, paper, textile, steel, sugar and thermal plants.
Electrical machines: Compressors, generators, motors, and pumps.
Household: Kitchen appliances, gardening equipment, furniture and fittings.
Defense: Vehicles, storage, munitions, artillery, and supporting equipment
Art objects: Idols, sculptures, lamp stands, furniture, and decorative items.
Municipal castings: Joints, pipes, valves and fittings
How is Bronze Lettering Made?
To make bronze lettering, you would need a flat sheet of bronze from which letters are out from. Even though they are lightweight, they are incredibly strong and hard. The bronze alloy C22000 is well respected for its strength and hardness.
When a bronze sheet is set on a table, the letters are cut out to precision using a computer-driven waterjet. This waterjet technique sends a high pressure stream of water that has been infused with powerful abrasive mineral. This then precisely cuts into the bronze plate to reveal intricate details on letters and characters.
To finish the bronze sign letters, they are bead-blasted for smoothness and stroke-sanded for the glowing natural satin finish. Sometimes, these letters are oxidized and treated further in a chemical black.
This oxidation process will turn them black, but a stiff sponge will be used to wipe the face and remove part of this black oxidation to reveal the yellow bronze. They could then be hand polished, if desired.
The last step is setting up the letters on a rack for them to be adequately coated with hardened acrylic polyurethane clear-coat before finally being baked in an oven. The final products are now carefully laid out for thorough quality inspection.
What you get as a result are letters that don’t fade, chip, or crack for a long time. Even when they start changing color because of exposure to various weather conditions, having them routinely rinsed with mild soap and water will usually restore the original appearance of the bronze surface.
How Do You Provide Laser Engraving and Sand Etching on Plaques?
To etch or mark the surface of a plaque through laser engraving, the use of a laser is required. One of the advantages of laser engraving is that it can be safely used on glass, marble, leather, plastic, metal, stone, and other natural materials. Laser engraving is a neat and quick process that leaves behind a clean, crisp, easy-to-see and permanent mark.
Sand etching is also known as sandblasting. Yes, it requires actually “blasting” and can go wrong if not handled by experts. To follow this process, a mask (stencil) of your message is required. The stencil can be applied on marble, onyx, wood, glass, crystal, or other material.
Sand is blown using the compressed air that is found in an airbrush, blasting the exposed area of the stencil. This causes the surface to be eroded or roughened, leaving behind what looks like a frosted look with a depth when touched. This process is done with care and skill, as a wrong move could make it cut through glass materials.
How is a Bronze Sculpture Made?
Bronze sculptures can be made in a number of ways. Below are two techniques of making bronze sculpture:
Sand Cast Bronze Sculpture
Sand casting is a cheap and fast way of casting metal. It requires little resources. To do this, you would start by making the mold. Sand is added to a flask made of metal or wood. This flask must register well and have the ability to withstand the pressure.
Then, pattern is pressed into the sand. This pattern is often made of wood, but can also be made of wax. Later, the pattern will be removed from the mold so that molten bronze can be poured in the cavity formed by the pattern.
After this is done, the next part of the process is to make sure the sand is compacted. A tool can be used to make sure the sand is super dense around the form. This is important for the sand to hold its shape after the pattern is finally removed.
With the bottom of the flask rammed well, talc can then be dusted well over the surface of that pattern and sand to serve as a sort of release agent. Now, you can put the flask together and sift sand over the pattern, continuing to evenly add sand until you are certain that the flask is full.
This part is really important. Make sure you ram the sand so much that there is no more space in the flask. Then, when it is filled to the brim, run a straight edge across the top edge of the flask to get rid of any excess sand.
Separate the mold and carefully remove the pattern. You should get good detail if you did a good job, and shape should be accurate. In case it falls apart, you probably didn’t do it so well.
Now, with your mold, carve some channels into the sand so that the bronze can find a way to enter and fill up the mold. With the channels cut into the sand, you can now put the flask back as they were together and get ready to pour.
Heat up the bronze till it is about 2,150 degrees Fahrenheit hot. Be careful with this. Needless to say, safety first! Now start filling up the mold slowly. Apart from the heat, this is the easy and fun part.
After it is full, allow the bronze to cool down. When it is cool, the bronze should separate easily from the sand. However, you’ll still need to get it cleaned up a bit. Maybe you might even fix some imperfections and minor errors in the casting. You can make it pretty by sand blasting or wire brushing.
Now the mold is ready for patina or, if it is a larger piece, casting. Start by fabricating the geometry around the casting if it is a wall hanging sculpture. Begin to tack-weld the forms together. Keep tack-welding the forms until you have the entire piece together. You can then weld the whole thing up, dress up the welds (if that is what you want) and generally make it nice.
Make sure the metal is clean before applying heat and chemicals like ferric nitrate, ammonium sulfide and cuprice nitrate for the patina. A patina can be used to achieve various colors or effects depending on which chemicals are mixed and used. This requires a bit of technical skills and know-hows.
Finish up the sculpture with a good waxing of carnuba-based wax applied a few times over, and there you have your beautiful bronze sculpture!
Lost Wax Bronze Casting
This is another way of making bronze sculptures. This is also an ancient art used when casting sculptures in solid bronze metal. Here is a simple break down of the process below:
The original art work is first crafted using a silicone rubber mold. If there are any details captured or missed while making this mold, they will be reproduced later in the bronze castings. The mold may be cut out into several sections for casting, depending on its size.
Molten wax is then poured into the silicon rubber mold to create an exact wax replica of the original model you are trying to build. Any flaws spotted after the wax is removed from the rubber mold are hand finished by a skilled craftsman.
Now, here requires a lot of care. The wax casting is carefully set in just the right positions when the wax rods and a wax-pouring cup are attached to it. This is to allow the bronze to be poured without trapping air in the mold. This is essential as air bubbles trapped inside the mold may cause gaps when the bronze piece is finished.
With the rods attached to the wax model, the wax model is now covered well in ceramic material. This will form the mold to be used for the final bronze pour. To get this done, the wax model is carefully dipped into investment liquid and then covered in a fine powder before leaving it to completely dry.
The model is then, for the second time, dipped into investment liquid before being given a coating of a coarse ceramic powder. When this procedure is repeated several times, a ceramic shell will be built up around the dipped wax model.
To melt the wax away from the ceramic shell around it, it is placed in a kiln and fired. The result after removing it from the kiln is a hollow ceramic shell mold in which the molten bronze poured, at 2,150 degrees Fahrenheit.
The casting is then allowed to cool down for several hours, and the mold carefully removed by hand from the now solid bronze model inside. If there are any fragments left of the ceramic shell, they are removed by sandblasting. The sculpture is then carefully inspected.
With the job done, all the attached cups and rods can then be removed by hand. If the sculpture is a large broken into sections, this is when they are carefully welded together. Any mark left by the welding and the rod can then be cleaned up and re-detailed by hand.
Now, what is left is polishing the bronze in preparation for the patina. Just like the earlier method, the bronze is heated up and the chemical patina is applied. To finish the sculpture, a wax coating is applied by hand and the piece is polished again to bring out the beauty of the patina.
How Long Do Bronze Plaques Last?
Bronze plaques are highly versatile and high quality metal plaques that have been used for hundreds of years as historical markers, decorative projects, commemorative signs, dedication signage, memorials and awards.
Bronze is an alloy of majorly copper and tin, which is stronger and harder than virtually any other metal. Its strength, durability and high quality material makes it able to last for decades when made up to standard.
This is why cast bronze plaques are the ideal choice for exterior signage outside a building. This is because of how well they can hold up against any harsh weather condition. In fact, cast bronze plaque is the only plaque type that is recommended to be safely inset into the ground to serve as permanent interior floor plates or sidewalk medallions.
When a long-lasting chemical patina is applied, it continues to retain its lustrous effect for a very long time without any risk of fading, peeling or chipping away over the years.