Metal business cards are a winning investment in yourself and your business, elevating a common interaction to a truly special one. They are truly one of a kind and can be made in a variety of metals, colors, and finishes.
But how are they made?
The idea of the card starts with you! Your business, company, or personal information and logo that you want to bring to life on a metal business card. When you decide that you want to up your game with a metal card, you contact us and we walk you through the design process. From your vector design, we create a film proof, which will be used once the card is ready to be processed.
The physical card starts out as sheet metal. The most common type of sheet metal is stainless steel, because it is very strong and wear-resistant. However, brass, aluminum, copper, and titanium are also used. To add extra dimension, there are different finishes available on the card as well: brushed, which helps disguise any wear and tear, frosted, which hides fingerprints and isn’t quite as shiny, and matte, for a fully non-shiny effect. Each of these, when combined, bring a special dimension and unique quality to your business cards.
The sheet metal, when it arrives to the factory, is thoroughly cleaned, de-greased, air-dried, and sealed with a thin lamination to keep the surface in pristine condition. Once the sheets are ready to be used, the lamination is peeled away, and the sheet goes through the cleaning process again. By keeping the sheets perfectly clean and particle-free at all times, it ensures that there is as little damage, flaws, and waste as possible.
The design that you have finalized with our design team is created as a photo film for the final proof. The film protects any part of the metal that shouldn’t be touched, so it is almost like a negative print of your design. The photoresist is applied to both sides of the metal to protect it as much as possible. Then, the metal is sent through our automatic dry film LED exposure machines, and the design is done using a photo tool.
The photo tool is created from your unique vector design, and it’s a thin, transparent sheet with your design printed on it. Kind of like an overhead projector transparency sheet, but it’s printed with special ink. The ink interacts with UV light, so when it is sent through the automatic dry film LED exposure machine, the laser direct imaging technology UV light hardens the photo resist areas upon exposure. The parts that are protected remain unchanged. The areas that are left exposed are developed away to reveal the raw metal, while the exposed photo resist remains and protects the metal underneath.
Next, etching! Etching is what creates the background texture. Photo etching is a complicated process that is affected by a lot of different things, including the type of metal, thickness of the metal, and type and speed of equipment used. The etching is an extremely delicate process, so that the proper depth is achieved into the metal card but does not cut too far or cut through the card. Once the etching is complete, the photo resist is removed, and the cards are – you guessed it – cleaned again. By keeping them constantly clean, there is a much lower chance of dust or other small particles creating flaws in the design.
However, the card can go through the photo resist and etching steps multiple times. Similar to multi-colored screen printing, where each color is printed on the fabric with its own screen, each layer of the etching is done with its own photo tool and photo resist. By utilizing multiple layers, the designs can achieve great depth and interest. The etching is done in order of most shallow to most deep, and the deepest etching and cut-outs are done last. Some cards have cut-outs within their design, but even if not, the final cut is cutting out the cards from the overall sheet. At this point, the final card starts to come together, and you can start seeing it to take shape!
Unless the final card is stainless steel, the cards go through a plating process. We offer a variety of beautiful colors, including gold, silver, copper, brass, and rose gold. Each type of metal conveys a different personality, so finding the right type of metal for your business is crucial. Stainless steel and silver are sleek and modern, gold and brass are more traditional, and rose gold is the ultimate trend-setters statement.
Sometimes, the design stops here. However, a lot of designs need a few more steps. Most designs need some content added, which can be done a couple of different ways. We have a serigraph printer that can print the content on the card, and we also have a laser engraver that can engrave the content. This choice depends on what the best choice is for your design and what you want the final design to look like – our expert designers can help you make that decision. The serigraph printer is very similar to a screen printer for fabric, which prints long-lasting enamel paint on the surface of the card. Laser engraving, on the other hand, exposes the base metal so that it shows through the plating, creating a nice contrast.
Almost done! The final step is quality control. We inspect each card to make sure that it looks exactly like the proofs finalized by you. Even with our meticulously clean factory, some flaws do happen, so this final inspection is crucial to make sure that you get a perfect final product. Once this step is complete, they are packaged and sent to you, so you can start knocking those first impressions out of the park.
We hope you enjoyed learning about our process to create the best metal business cards. If you have any questions or are interested in getting your hands on some, contact us! We’d love to talk to you about it.