Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pins: Which To Go?

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What’s the difference between Soft Enamel and Hard Enamel Pins? Which one should I choose for my design? Many pin designers often wonder this when customizing their own pins. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two and how to choose the better option for your design.

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pins difference

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pins: The Essential Difference

Let’s make it simple, the most fundamental difference between Soft Enamel and Hard Enamel Pins lies in their appearance. A Soft Enamel pin has a textured surface with raised metal lines and a recessed enamel part. On the other hand, a Hard Enamel Pin has a smooth surface, when you touch it, you can feel its surfaces flat.

Regardless of whether it’s a Soft Enamel or Hard Enamel Pin, their colors are shiny and vibrant.

1. Exploring Design Differences

Soft Enamel Pins are suitable for both simple and complex designs. Hard enamel pins are suitable for simple designs.

Why? Because during the soft enamel pin production, plating first, then enamel filling.  However, for a hard enamel pin, after filling enamel, the pin needs to be highly polished, the details can easily be worn off if the color block is too small. so in hard enamel pins, the metal lines are thicker than the original design.

How do we judge the complexity of a design? We usually judge whether a design is complex based on the colors and details. Colors refer to the number of colors. Based on the common lapel pin sizes, if your design is with more than 9 colors, it can be considered a complex color.  If there are many color blocks, then the filling enamel process will take longer time.

In summary, if your badge design is relatively simple, then both Baked Enamel and Hard Enamel are suitable. If your badge design is more complex, Baked Enamel is your first choice.

2. Durability

Under normal use, both soft enamel pins and hard enamel pins can last for several years. Hard Enamel Pins can last for over 10 years without fading. After a few years of use, soft enamel pins may fade.

3. Use Cases

Hard Enamel Pins are suitable for military pins, company logo pins, Disney pins, souvenirs, etc.
Soft Enamel Pins are suitable for promotional gifts, sports badges, religious pins, schools pins, etc.

4. Understanding the Price Differences

Hard Enamel Pins are expensive than soft enamel pins because the production cost of hard enamel pins is more complex. If your budget is limited, soft enamel pins are more suitable.

5. Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pins for Metal

Both Hard Enamel and soft enamel pins use the same metal, mainly iron, zinc alloys, and copper. Iron is suitable for designs with regular shapes and no cut-out.  Zinc alloys are suitable for irregular shapes or products with cuts-out. In a word, metal does NOT make any difference on both.

6. Voting on Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pins

reddit vote

There’s an interesting poll on Reddit where people voted on their favorite between Baked Enamel and Hard Enamel Pins. Hard Enamel Pins were far more popular than Baked Enamel Pins. Which one do you prefer?

do you prefer hard or soft enamel?
byu/sysifuscorp inEnamelPins

7. The Production Process

In terms of production, both use the same molds and most of the production process is the same. The main difference lies in the order of electroplating and filling enamel process.

Soft Enamel Process: Hard Enamel Process:
1. Molding 1. Molding
2. Polishing 2. Polishing
3. Assembling Pin Backs 3. Assembling Pin Backs
4. Electroplating 4. Electroplating
5. Filling Enamel 5. Filling Enamel
6. Additional Process 6. High temperature baking
7. Quality control 7. Polishing
8. Packaging 8. Electroplating
9. Additional Process
10. Quality control – Packaging


The main difference in the process lies in the fact that soft enamel pin is electroplated first and then fill enamel. In contrast, Hard Enamel is filling enamel, polishing, then electroplating. This difference results in the fundamental differences in the product.

8. About Metal Finish

Electroplating is a process where a layer of specified metal color is coated on the metal surface through a salt-acid reaction. What is plating?
Hard Enamel metal finish options: Gold, Silver, Rose Gold, Antique Bronze, Black Nickel, etc.

In addition to the above metal finishes, soft enamel pins metal surface can also customize metal color, similar to customizing enamel color, such as white metal, purple metal, green, etc. It can also do rainbow electroplating. These are things that Hard Enamel cannot do.

Painted Black Metal vs Black Nickel

dye black VS black nickel

If you want black metal, the black metal surface of soft enamel pins can be painted black, or it can be black nickel. While hard enamel pins can be with black nickel plating, similar to gun color.

The difference between black paint and black nickel is that black nickel is electroplated, giving the metal surface a shine, while black paint is not shiny.

9. Soft Enamel with Epoxy vs Hard Enamel Pins

pin with epoxy vs hard enamel pin

Epoxy is a kind of transparent resin, Epoxy is adding on soft enamel pin. The resin can very well protect the soft enamel, but after a long time, the epoxy will become yellow. Epoxy is not necessary, this is a personal preference. After epoxy, soft enamel surface is smooth, sometimes, it is regarded as hard enamel by mistake. It’s not Hard Enamel.

10. Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel, Which One to Choose?

1. Design:

If your design is complex, go with soft enamel. Soft enamel pins are prefered by artists. The design is more diverse and flexible.

2. Durable: If you prefer the product to last longer, Hard Enamel Pins are the best choice.

3. Turnaround

The delivery time of Hard Enamel is longer than soft enamel. If you are in a hurry to use the product, then soft enamel is a good choice.

4. Budget: Hard enamel is more expensive than soft enamel, but it’s not too expensive, so both hard enamel and soft enamel pins are affordable. If your budget is very small, you can choose soft enamel pin.

5. Preference: Lastly, it’s personal preference. You can choose the process you like.


Learn more Different Type of Lapel Pins

How To Make Enamel Pins?

After reading this article, do you understand the difference between Baked Enamel and Hard Enamel? If you have different opinions or other questions, welcome to leave a comment to discuss

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