An engineering club on campus was looking for some promotional items they could use to raise funds for projects. The club already had embroidered patches, so I suggested enamel pins. Enamel pins are smaller, allowing them to be more subtle than a large patch, as well as easier to install due to the pin back. The glossy finish and raised features of an enamel pin give them a premium feeling, too.
I was able to find a manufacturer in Asia I could work directly with, avoiding local middlemen. (Almost all enamel pin makers in North America source from Asia due to the labour-intensive process of enamel painting each pin.) I first sent them the design files as well as the geometry requirements and the plating options. I then requested quotes for quantities of 10, 100, and 1000 pins. I found obtaining quotes for different orders of magnitude to be a critically important step in the process, as it allows you to see how quickly volume discounts grow. After a quantity was agreed on, the mold was made (This incurred a mold fee, a typical charge to account for the machining cost) and some samples were done. A quick email approval followed by payment and the full quantity was produced.
I had a smaller quantity of cuff links made for a small additional cost. The same mold was used; only the backing was changed from a pin-back to cuff links. The cuff links were a hit with club executives and were bought immediately by them. (So quickly that I don’t have any photos)
This project ended up being a “Sourcing 101” course for me. Buying direct from the manufacturer is something I’ll definitely be doing more in the future.