Given the steady increase in commercial dog tag websites it's clear that the popularity of dog tags for people is on the rise. From individuals to businesses, dog tags are being used to promote various events from birthdays and weddings to new business products and special events. Unlike finding dog tags and dog tag supplies online, dog tag machines can be a little more difficult for two reasons: fewer vendors offering quality dog tag machines compared to dog tag supplies and the many models available from manual to automatic can seem confusing for the uninitiated. Here we hope to sort out some of the difficulties in selecting the right dog tag machine for your home or web based dog tag business.
The dog tag making machines this article is concerned with are those that stamp letters, numbers and some special characters into the metal producing either a raised (embossed) or lowered (de-bossed) effect from the surface. With the use of a standard size font (same as that seen on a credit card) they can emboss up to15 characters per line and up to 5 lines. The speed at which this is done will depend on the machine itself. The dog tags are made from stainless steel and feature a top rolled edge. They are 1.25" x 2.0" and 0.03" thick. They are available in both shiny and matte (dull) finish as well as brass. More recently color coated dog tags have become available. Be careful with these colored tags as sometimes the color will flake off during the stamping process. Some progress is being made to produce more durable color coatings to withstand the stamping process.
Dog tags can be sold in sets or a single tag on a long (24"-30") ball chain. A set consists of two tags, one long chain and one short 4" chain. You can include rubber dog tag silencers with the set or they can be offered as an option. Ball chain can be purchased on spools or to precut lengths. If getting spools, then the connectors must be purchased separately. The most commonly used ball chain for dog tags consists of 3mm diameter size beads and is either nickel coated brass or stainless steel. Additional dog tag accessories and options include split rings for keys and rubber dog tag silencers. The split rings most commonly used are ¾" and 1" wide. Initially rubber silencers were available only in black. Now there is a wide range of colors available from traditional to vibrant tones. Dog tag supplies are widely available online. As with anything else online choose your vendors wisely as prices do vary among different websites.
The two main types of dog tag making machines are manual and automatic. They range in price from about $2,000 for an introductory manual machine to around $20,000 for a high volume production automatic-feed unit. In addition to military dog tags, many of these machines can also accommodate metal plates of various sizes, shapes and thickness. Here we'll explain the pros and cons of both types of dog tag machines as well as provide information regarding where to find the best deals online.
The first consideration in selecting a suitable dog tag machine for your business is a portable or permanent machine. Within both categories, manual (mechanical and electronic) and automatic-feed electronic machines are available. The advantage of portables is that they can be easily transported to various events from parties, fairs, festivals and reunions to business tradeshows and special events. Most portable manual-feed mechanical machines can produce up to a few dozen dog tags per hour compared to approx. 180 for electronic machines. If you're a small business owner needing to make a set of dog tags here and there a portable mechanic machine may be the way to go. If your production needs are higher then you should be looking at the electronic manual and automatic-feed machines. The advantage of automatic machines is that they are capable of producing a few hundred dog tags an hour making them ideal for high volume web based businesses. The down side is that they can cost five to ten times more than a manual mechanical machine.
The most basic machine for making dog tags will be manual-feed in which the tags are loaded into the machine one at a time. The machine will have a 55 to 60 character capacity drum (A-Z, 0-9, basic punctuation), one or two available fonts, will fit only military size dog tags (1.25" x 2.0"; 0.030" to 0.032" thick), and will weigh-in at around 60 lbs. Current manual-feed mechanical machines have a dial on the top for selecting the desired character. Once the character to be stamped is lined up, a handle on the side is pulled down to emboss the tag. When released it moves one space to the right to accommodate the next character.For higher volume production you should be considering either an electronic manual or automatic-feed machine. For manual electronic machines the plates are still loaded one by one, but the information to be embossed is either entered directly into the machine via an attached keyboard or through a computers serial port. The obvious advantage here is that the information needs to be entered only once for a multi tag order where the information is the same for each tag. These machines are capable of producing approx. 180 tags per hour compared to a few dozen for manual mechanical machines which require entering the information for each tag. Other advantages of the electronic manual dog tag machines are that plates of various sizes and shapes can be loaded into the machine, availability of higher capacity character drums, a larger selection of font types, and portability (a typical electronic manual-feed embosser weighs approx. 100 lbs).
The next step toward producing higher volumes of dog tags can be achieved by going with a fully automatic electronic machine capable of producing approx. 300 tags per hour. The tags are held stacked in a hopper with a typical capacity of around 200 tags. The tags are automatically fed into the machines character/stamping drum via a grabbing mechanism. When the embossing is complete the tag is automatically ejected from the side of the machine via a conveyer. These machines will also accommodate plates of various sizes and thickness. Automatic-feed electronic embossing machines are built tough and will withstand harsh industrial environments. In addition to be used to by military bases for making dog tags, these machines can be found in the factories of various industries from auto makers and shipyards to cable manufacturers and steel producers.
Dog tag making can be both fun and profitable. Whether you're a hobbyist looking to supplement your income, a retail shop owner or a web based business there is a dog tag machine to meet your budgetary and production volume needs.
Article written by Scott Shenkel