Common Award Manufacturer Shortcuts to Avoid

Samantha Mikos

When it comes to the design concept of a custom award, the possibilities are endless. To keep a competitive advantage, many manufactures work by the motto, “your wish is our command.”

Can’t decide between the elegance of crystal or the sleek quality of metal? No need to worry – just pair them together for a unique, modern design. Thinking your award would look great with a splash of color? Introduce an element of color fill and the sky is the limit.  

When it comes down to it, a recognition manufacturer can promise you the world. That is, until you receive your order and quality is compromised.   

The actual implementation of these processes is where things can get a bit tricky. With rising tariffs and the ever-advancing need to cut costs, it is common for suppliers to take shortcuts to save a quick buck.  

After being in the recognition business for twelve years, there isn’t a shortcut we haven’t seen. We broke down this list to take a deeper dive into the most common shortcuts that potential buyers must keep in mind when planning for an upcoming recognition project.  

1. Laser Etching Glass or Crystal

We picked this common shortcut first because although it may be done with good intentions, it is a very simple technique that can have a catastrophic effect. Instead of elegantly frosting the material, it creates small breaks in the decoration, and sometimes in more severe instances, it can shatter the material.   

This faulty process ultimately creates a personalization look and feel that is less optimal and does not have depth. To find out if a manufacturer uses laser etching, examine the graphic on the piece. If the resolution looks low-quality or you notice a pixilation, chances are, a shortcut was taken. 

To avoid this mishap, request a process technique called sand etching. This will highlight the details of the design and will heighten any personalization to a classic, elegant look. 

2. Spray Painting the Color 

When implementing a color fill on crystal or glass, spray painting has become a more regular approach. Not only does this save money, but it saves time and allows for mass scalability. Even though it can seem more efficient, spray paint results are inconsistent and thin.  

The proper method to introduce a color fill is with enamel paint. This will give the piece a high-quality color that is not see-through. The only downside is that this method is done by hand, leading to a more time-consuming project and most likely a bit more costly.  

Even with the time constraint, the results are incomparable. Enamel fill will not leave bubbles but instead a smooth, rich color finish. To top it off, these types of enamel paints can efficiently align with company branded colors through a procedure called Pantone Matching System (PMS). 

3. Flash Plating 

Electroplating is a process of binding a layer of one material onto another material. Manufacturers choose this process to protect the bottom layer material from oxidization, where the material can tarnish, lose color or even develop small cracks.  

With metal statues, it is very common for suppliers to take shortcuts and not properly electroplate. As a result, the final plating is thin, low quality and makes any personalization look fuzzy. Unfortunately, this shortcut causes the award to have a short shelf life before deterioration issues arise. 

4. Using Plaster to Add Weight 

Weight does not always equate to higher quality materials, but it is a popular requirement when specifying design details. We equate heavy weight to higher quality and will justify spending more on a project to make sure that a recipient feels that experience.  

There are three ways to recreate that heavy feeling with an award. The first way to achieve this effect is to create an entire base out of one solid material (usually metal). The second proper method is to input a slug of a thick, dense material into the base of a piece. Once this piece is capped, there is no noticeable difference. 

The third method is the cheapest method, clearly defining it as a shortcut. This method is performed by filling a base with plaster. Not only is this a cheap material, but it tends to crumble and fall out of the product. In the end, plaster fills cause more problems than good.   

To learn more about how avoid these shortcuts and ensure high quality design implementation, connect with our team of industry experts.