30 second summary:
- Plaques are used for so many purposes – to celebrate, to commemorate, to thank and much more!
- Engraved plaques have been in use since ancient times, and were once incredibly expensive – but today, they’re accessible to anyone wanting to remember someone or something that matters.
- Plaque making and engraving technology has changed so much, from engraving techniques to digitised design and much more.
You’ve probably seen tens of thousands of plaques over the years, but not thought much about the part they play in our daily lives: whether its a name plaque on your doctor’s desk, a plaque commemorating the loss of a loved one or celebrating a new life, an informational plaque telling the story of an important place, or an award plaque thanking someone for their achievements.
Even though we see them every day, people don’t often think much about plaques. Except, of course, us – because we manufacture great ones, we love showcasing our work, and we love geeking out over history! Because of how multi-purpose and multi-faceted plaques can be, we’ve had the opportunity to create some seriously cool ones like this:
The man, the legend, the commemoration!
Laser Etched Stainless Steel Plaque
And we’ve used plaques to celebrate those big moments in our lives:
|Direct Printed Rosewood Ultra Premium Piano Finish Plaque||Direct Printed Woodgrain Piano Finish Plaque|
Our clients use plaques for many important purposes, from acknowledgement of country:
To recognising the hard work of employees and volunteers, and celebrating prominent Australians past and present.
|Printed Brass on Rosewood Ultra Premium Piano Finish Plaque||Printed Polished Brass On Woodgrain Piano Finish Plaque|
Plaques throughout history
So, what exactly is a plaque? Cambridge Dictionary defines a plaque as “a flat object, often of stone or metal, with text that records information about a person, place, or event”. Broadly speaking, plaques inform, they commemorate, they teach, they celebrate. Plaques have been used for these purposes since ancient times, and because they’re generally made with sturdy materials, a lot of them are still around. Check out these bronze plaques from around 500 BC, written in a dialect of Ancient Greek. What an extraordinary piece of history!
Times have changed a lot. But throughout the ages, mankind has always sought to create items that tell important stories, markers of what mattered to them. However, the technology we use today is very different. Can you imagine what the makers of these plaques would think about what is possible now, the wonders of digitisation and the fantastic machines?
Plaques of today
Making a plaque today is a very different kettle of fish. The main methods we use are traditional cast bronze, printed anodising, laser etching, photo etching, rotary engraving and diamond tip engraving, and the main materials we engrave onto are plastic; metals such as brass, aluminium, and stainless steel; and timber. You can see some examples of our engraved metal & plastic plaques, and our timber plaques.
- Traditional Cast Bronze remains the Rolls Royce of commemorative plaques. They have stood the test of time. The deep detail makes for easy reading even when decades old. Modern technology has allowed for beautiful three dimensional imagery as well as the ability to use any style of text. Because the method still means pouring molten bronze into a sand casting, very fine detail will be compromised but the end product remains stunning.
- Printed anodising uses photographic techniques to lay down UV resistant inks into specially prepared aluminium. Multiple primary colours can be used. After printing, the aluminium is dipped into a heated acidic solution that leaves a clear and durable aluminium oxide coating.
- Photo etching is also called acid etching, which is much more descriptive. A photographic, acid-resistant film is laid onto the metal prior to dipping into an especially aggressive acid bath. The unprotected areas are slowly etched away. The method allows for excellent detail on brass, stainless steel and aluminium. The depth is not as deep as other processes but is great for complex detail.
- Rotary engraving uses a high speed, rotating cutting tool. The tool cuts deep enough into the material so it can be paint filled later with soft enamel paint. This is used mainly on brass, stainless steel or anodised aluminium where the customer wants coloured text.
- Diamond tip engraving uses a very sharp cone shaped diamond tip. This is sharp enough to leave a lasting mark on the material. Multiple passes can deepen the impression a little.
- Laser etching uses a high energy beam to mark the material or a special coating applied to the material. The detail is very sharp and usually very shallow or flush with the surface, depending on the material. This is used mainly for stainless steel, plastic and wood. The laser either vaporises the plaque’s surface, or bonds the ceramic powder, with astonishing precision; and is able to render incredible detail: from beautiful fonts to digitised photos and more.
For most of human history, plaques were expensive – kings might use them to commemorate battles, but they took a very long time to make and were out of the price range of ordinary people. But today, that’s no longer the case – the tools we have access to save time, and mean that you can order a gorgeous plaque at a very reasonable price. These high-tech engraving tools also mean that the quality of plaques we can create is amazing – previous generations would be amazed with what’s now possible!
Our range of plaques
With so many uses, and so many materials and styles to suit your tastes, it’s safe to say that there are plenty of occasions in your life (or those of your loved ones!) where a plaque is just the ticket. Have a relative graduating university and thinking about what could be the perfect way to celebrate her or his hard work? Have a new bundle of joy in the family? Want to name your dad/mum as parent of the year on Father’s/Mother’s Day? Is your desk missing a little something like a beautiful name plaque? Are you personally missing Johnny Cash? (We know we are.)
Get in touch with Perth’s plaque experts
Check out some examples of our beautiful engraved plaques, and remember: these are incredibly customisable. Bring an image (or an idea), and get in touch with us to see how we can turn your vision into reality, and a heirloom that you can hand down from generation to generation. And if you already have a plaque that you’d like to bring back to its former glory, review our plaque restoration service.
For more of our great work and insights into what we do, keep an eye on our blog!