The question we get at least a few times every day is "How much will it cost?"  Like so many other things in life, the answer is "It depends!"

Every project is unique, but the following general guidelines are intended to help you decide if investing in nameplates is the best use of your restoration budget.  The reality is that new tags can be costly to make from scratch, and sometimes it's better to put money into other parts of the machine.

STEP 1: ETCHING MASK ARTWORK

Getting to the first new copy of an old plate requires high fidelity artwork in vector format.  Creating an etching mask for a small tag with a modern computer font and no graphics may take less than an hour.  A mask for a vintage lathe gearbox plate with lots of text and numbers outlined by graphics can take a full day or more to recreate faithfully.  The better the art, the better the plate, and there are techniques we have learned to incorporate into the artwork to offset the effects of undercutting in the etch process.

Von charges a flat rate of $50/hr for artwork time.  We have yet to find a professional graphic designer who charges less who can produce the quality of art we require.  If you have experience in this area and would like to try making your own etching mask art, we're happy to work with you to reduce cost.  In the end, however, we have to judge whether or not what you provide will get the plate through the etching process and give you the results we both want for your machine.

STEP 2:  MASK & ETCH

The key to a good etch is a good mask.  It is common for the first etch to fail on plates with a lot of fine detail.  When this happens, we never charge for re-etch.  We adjust the mask art, re-mask, and proceed with making your plate.

The cost for this phase of the process is primarily driven by plate size, material, and qty ordered.  The first copy of a new design may be as low as $50 or as high as $600 depending on the material size, material choice, thickness, masking process required, and etch depth.

Additional copies of the same design are nearly always a lot less than the first copy.  We will quote any qty range you want.  However, Von is not set up for mass production and we will recommend a commercial etching process for large orders.  We have relationships with multiple etchers who do fantastic work from our art.  We can work in between you and the etcher if you like, or we're happy to provide you with ready art that you can send to the etcher directly.

Keep in mind commercial etching requires a nominal setup charge to get from artwork to the masking process they use.  Generally speaking this is a one-time charge and you won't be required to pay the setup charge if you order more tags later.

Note:  Aluminum plates are very difficult to etch using traditional processes.  We have recently started outsourcing aluminum plates for fiber laser etching with fantastic results and fine detail deep etches.  We have to pay for the laser time, but we save time on the traditional masking and etching here at Von.

STEP 3:  COLOR FILL

Color makes any new plate beautiful, and there are many options available to get the right appearance.  Von primarily uses powdercoat paint for machine tags, but enamels are an option for hard to match colors.  We also have experience with hot and cold patinas to make a new plate appear older.

The cost for color fill can range from a few dollars for a batch of single color powdercoat fill to $50 or more for multi-color fill that requires work under the microscope.

 

If your quantity requires a commercial etch order, the etching house will do the color fill.  The exception to this statement is most etching houses don't do patina work.  In that case, we bring the commercially etched plates back to Von for patina and finishing.

STEP 4:  FINISHING

Finishing refers to the steps required to separate the tag from its parent material, polish the face and edges, round corners, and drill mounting holes.  Nickel, chrome, or gold plating can be applied by a local plating shop at this point if required.

In general, square shapes are cheaper than rounds, ovals, or irregular outlines.  Holes cost more than no holes.  Rounded corners are no fun to make and we charge accordingly.

REFERENCE EXAMPLES (Mobile users scroll down for photos)

EXAMPLE 1:  Motorcycle Builder's Plate

Material:  0.032" Brass

Artwork:  Simple Text in a modern computer font (0.5 hrs)

Color Fill:  Black Powdercoat

Mounting Holes:  Yes

Rounded Corners:  Yes

Finishing:  Clear Powdercoat Topcoat

Qty:  1 ea.

Cost for first copy:  ~$150 plus shipping

EXAMPLE 2:  Faux Vintage Bank Vault Builder's Plate

Material:  1/8" Brass

Artwork:  Developed from scratch from a customer napkin sketch (3 hrs)

Color Fill:  None

Mounting Holes:  Yes

Rounded Corners:  Yes

Finishing:  Faux aged cold patina

Qty:  1 ea.

Cost for first copy:  ~$500 plus shipping

Example 3:  Reproduction Steam Locomotive Data Plate

Material:  0.040" Brass

Artwork:  Detailed trace of original including faux stamp text (8.5 hrs)

Color Fill:  Black powdercoat

Mounting Holes:  No (customer to match drill to new mounting location)

Rounded Corners:  No

Finishing:  Clear powdercoat

Qty:  1 ea.

Cost for first copy:  ~$600 plus shipping

Example 4:  Reproduction Mori Seiki Lathe Gearbox Plate

In-house etch for first copy, handoff to commercial etcher for batch of six

Material:  0.032"" Brass

Artwork:  Detailed trace of original plate (12 hrs)

Color Fill:  Dark blue enamel

Mounting Holes:  No (end user to match drill with old plate)

Rounded Corners:  Yes

Finishing:  None

Qty:  7 ea.

Cost for first copy etched in house from Von art:  ~$850 plus shipping

Cost for batch of 6 ea. commercial etch from Von art:  ~$1,350 plus shipping

Cost to reorder commercial etch w/minimum 6 ea. batch size:  ~$1000 plus shipping

 

Note:  All examples shown are general representations of past work.  Costs subject to change.  Let us know what you need and we will provide a firm quote with all the details for you to decide if investing in new tags is right for your project.

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