Secrets of Selecting the Perfect Metal Tags


Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock... The clock is ticking... You have worked months, or years, (or maybe even just days), but the important thing is you have worked!! You accepted the challenge and are getting close to the finish line. Now it is time to tie up the loose ends and finish out this project - Victory is near!

Time for Tags... (Ugh) Those pesky little things that drive everyone nuts. Labeling what seems like a bazillion pieces, and checking, and re-checking, and re-re-checking!

Take heart – There are a few things you can do to make the process a whole lot easier…

Let’s take a look, then we will explore each a little deeper:

  1. Choose your material wisely. Since this post is highlighting Metal tags, we will limit ourselves to that, but you still have several options: Stainless Steel tags, Metalphoto, Aluminum tags, Anodized Aluminum tags, Brass tags…
  2. Choose your process: Metal can be marked in a variety of ways – Laser engraved, rotary engraved, chemical etched, or photo processed.
  3. Communicate well: Having your needed information in a drawing with specs is the easiest way to guarantee you will get what you need. If that isn’t an option, at least provide your supplier with data in a clear, concise, organized manner.
  4. Choose your supplier wisely. Building a relationship with a supplier that consistently provides quality work, delivers on time, (or better yet - early!) and works within your budget will save you all kinds of stress and frustration! A good supplier will also help you with all of the above. They can help you choose the right material and process, and should be proactive on communication, making sure all the details are covered.

These 4 little actions will go a long way in assuring your metal tags will be perfect, do their job, and once again… make YOU the hero! (Well, we can dream can’t we? Grin.)

Let’s move on to hero training, to make sure you are successful... 

Material choice: Metals are a popular choice for many identification needs, because they provide durability. Here is a rundown of the characteristics:


  • Durable - suitable for harsh indoor/outdoor environments
  • Chemical, solvent & corrosion, rust resistant
  • Heat & scratch resistant
  • Available in various alloys and thicknesses
  • Applications include tags, nameplates, serialized ID plates, panels, valve tags, etc


  • SUPER DURABLE – 30+ year exterior guarantee
  • Photosensitive anodized aluminum – silver halide image permanently sealed within anodic layer.
  • Resistant to chemicals, heat, abrasion, salt pray, UV… almost indestructible!
  • Meets an array of commercial, government, and military specs
  • Finish options: Matte, satin, gloss, and #4 (resembles stainless steel)
  • Thicknesses from .003” to .125”
  • Applications include tags, barcode labels, ID plates, variable data nameplates, panels, industrial applications, machine and equipment tracking, sales and service plates, etc.


  • Light, durable, strong
  • Corrosion, oxidation resistant
  • Wide variety of finishes and colors
  • Well suited to fabrication and machining
  • Available in various alloys and thicknesses


  • Increased resistance to corrosion and wear
  • Better adhesion of paint primers and glues than bare metal
  • Variety of Color options: red, blue, green, gold, copper
  • Variety of thicknesses available
  • Great for color coding and identification


  • Will not produce spark, often specified in mining industry
  • Visually appealing
  • Durable - chemical, solvent & corrosion resistant
  • Available in a variety of thicknesses
  • Suitable for industrial and decorative applications

More Hero Training: Know your processes! We will go into the details of these engraving/marking processes in a future post, but this hits the highlights of each.

  • Laser engraving: CO2 lasers can mark metal using a ceramic spray that creates a permanent high contrast marking. It does not cut into the metal.
  • Chemical Etching: A controlled chemical process that selectively removes metal. Once etched you can choose to paint fill the etched area for greater contrast, or leave as is. Extremely versatile, great for small detail information.
  • Photo Processed: Metalphoto is a photoprocessed anodized aluminum used to create extremely durable metal tags or nameplates.
  • Rotary Engraving: Uses a carbide bit to engrave into the metal an average of .003 to .007" deep. Engraved letters can be paint filled for greater contrast.

OK – you are now armed with the knowledge you need to get those metal tags ordered and get this project complete! Congratulations! ...and if you are looking for a supplier to fit the bill on #4, give us a call. We would love the opportunity to help you be a hero!

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