Ever wondered how a personalised keyring gets made here at Sheridan’s Badges and Engraving? Well, the process is actually quite similar to how we make a badge! Essentially, key rings are a larger lapel pin (badge), but also come with a small ring (loop) at the top so that a key ring fitting can be attached; in fact, the process for making medallions work in a similar way, as a circular badge with a hole or a loop where a ribbon is attached.
So, with that in mind, let’s start with how we make badges. The badge itself begins as a design concept, either from a pre-existing design (a company’s logo, for example), or a design that’s been especially created for this purpose. This design must then be converted so that it will be suitable for the finished metal product. Most badges are either embossed (in other words, stamped from a metal die) or cast (from a mould). For simplicity’s sake, we will stay with the traditional embossed badge in this example.
Stage 1: Design
The badge design must be created or converted so that metal lines separate each individual colour. The design will involve very fine detail, and most of the text used in the design will be represented via solid, raised metal. The finished design is then engraved, in reverse, into a steel block. There are several depth levels involved to help with this stamping process. After the engraving process is finished, the steel die is heat treated in a high temperature furnace which will harden the steel; the steel die is then tempered in a low temperature furnace to avoid cracking.
Stage 2: Stamping
Next, the hardened die is placed into a powerful embossing press for stamping. A suitable back die is set above the hardened die that incorporates the design. The two are brought together with up to 80 tons of force per square inch. (FYI: the metric equivalent is 1,100 megapascals, a unit of pressure measurement that most people outside relevant industries may not have heard of, but is widely used in materials science and engineering. Want to know more? Wikipedia has the answers.) In between these dies is a strip of metal, usually brass; we also use iron to make our keyrings. The strip of metal is squeezed so that it will take the form of the design and pushed out to the sides slightly. In layman’s terms, the stamping process is a bit like playing with playdough stamps as a kid; press a material (metal) using a stamp of a particular shape (a hardened die with your custom design) onto a hard surface (the back die; in the playdough analogy, this would be a hard surface like a table). Of course, the major difference here is that the force of the embossing press is high enough to reshape a piece of metal! That strip of metal will eventually become a badge, which will eventually be used to make a keyring. This process is called “stamping”, and the end result is a piece of embossed metal.
Stage 3: Cutting
After the stamping process has taken place, the embossed brass will be placed onto a custom-made cutting tool that also required many hours of work to make. The cutting tool trims away the excess metal from the edge of the design (the portion of the metal that was pushed out to the side during stamping). Next, if the badge if to be used to make a keyring, another tool is now used to pierce the hole in the top of the badge that will be used to attach a keyring fitting.
Stage 4: Barrelling and Polishing
At this point, the badges have any sharp edges removed in a barrelling process using ceramic chips and soapy water; after all, you don’t want metal with sharp edges in your pocket or handbag! The barrelling process takes a few hours, after which, your badge is dried and, depending on the design, polished by hand.
Stage 5: Electroplating
After the engraving, stamping, cutting, barrelling, and polishing processes are all completed, the badges are hand wired onto special jigs for electroplating. Electroplating is the process of plating one metal onto another by electrolysis, and most commonly takes place for decorative purposes or to prevent corrosion. Part of the electroplating process includes scrupulous cleaning in soapy and acidic solutions. The (generally, brass) badges are finally electroplated in the desired finish, usually gold or nickel silver. The electroplating finishes available at Sheridan’s Badges and Engraving for keyrings are bright gold plating, satin gold plating, nickel silver plating, antique nickel plating, and antique copper plating; we can also do dual plating.
Stage 6: Colouring, Baking and Glazing
Once your badge is electroplated and dried again, it’s ready for the colouring process – which is quite exciting stuff! This is done by hand, usually with liquid enamel paints applied with a fine needle and syringe; it’s quite an artistic process which we greatly enjoy, and it’s also easy for less experienced badge makers to get wrong especially in the case of more challenging design briefs – we love to rise to the challenge!
There is an option to use coloured epoxies, which is referred to these days as imitation hard enamel, which is relatively complicated to apply and finish. (Incidentally, true hard enamel is powdered glass fired [melted] in a kiln. However, this type of badge needs to be made from copper to cope with the very high temperatures used, so cannot be used with brass badges). The colouring process is done in a step-by-step fashion; each colour is applied to all the badges at once, then the next colour is applied until all colours are done. The soft enamel paint needs to dry off before any excess is cleaned from the surface.
Now that the colouring process is completed, the enamel paints are baked hard in a low temperature oven before a clear resin glaze (quite like honey in consistency) is spread over the top. Once the resin has been cured, the badges are given a final check for quality and errors in colouring.
Stage 7: Turning The Badge Into A Keyring
Finally, the badge becomes a key ring! At this point, the key ring fitting is attached to the loop at the top of the badge and is packed up ready for the client. There are a variety of key ring fittings – some more hardy than others. Our keyrings come with a very durable figure-8 fitting as standard because we build our keyrings to last.
Purchasing Personalised Keyrings? Trust The Experts
Here at Sheridan’s Badges and Engraving, our custom metal keyrings are embossed with soft enamel paint with up to 4 colours (more colours are available as an optional extra) or printed. Just choose your preferred keyring size and fill in the form to request a quote (or get in touch!). We will need to know your desired size & quantity where possible, and we will need you to provide your logo/artwork. When we receive your request for a quote, we will be in touch to discuss the project, including any additional costs for artwork, optional extras, etc.
Our minimum order quantity is 10 keyrings; personalised keyrings come in standard sizes 32mm to 42mm but can be made to any desired size.
Once you have approved the quote, we will get to work!
Depending on factors like quantity, size, design complexity, etc. your personalised keyrings will be ready within 4-5 weeks.
You can pick up your order from our address in Jolimont, Perth, or we will post your order to you.
Why Should I Have Personalised Keyrings Made?
With over a century of experience in badgemaking, we’ve worked with many thousands of clients from Perth, across our great state and beyond. The reason why people and organisations have personalised keyrings made is for their existence and reputation to be seen far and wide by customers, visitors, etc. Not only do they make for great advertising with a professional look, they are a conversation starter. It also makes a great gift for your customers, especially around Christmas time. It’s a functional, stylish item that lets them know how much you value their patronage. Personalised keyrings are also a popular choice for clubs (sports, service organisations, etc.) and associations to build a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
Want to know more? Check out our Personalised Keyrings product category page, and visit our blog for more great insight including our showcase on personalised keyrings. We love making beautiful, high-quality and durable personalised keyrings, and we’d be delighted to turn your design into personalised keyrings that the owners will proudly treasure for years to come.