Making branding shine

Posted on 3 May 2013 by Tim Brown

Diametric is a manufacturer of bespoke industrial badges, labels, nameplates, graphic overlays and fascias for a range of industry sectors including: automotive (OEMs and aftermarket), audio, medical and electronics. Tim Brown talks to managing director, Pete Knight, and sales and marketing director, Graham Steele, about the process of converting a company’s brand into something remarkable.

No one denies the benefits of creating a recognisable brand. But seeing it printed on paper is one thing. Seeing it affixed the bonnet of a car, the fuel tank of a motorcycle, or the speaker of a high end stereo, elicits a completely different feeling altogether. Such position can transform a corporate logo into something that people truly identify with.

The badge and logo on a product is the representation of the product itself. It should be sleek, impressive and, most importantly, it must match the quality of the product itself. When it comes to branding, badge and label making, Diametric provides that service, turning a corporate logo into a physical and more tangible thing of beauty.

The company counts many household names among its clientele and creates the badges for products from cars to motorcycles, fridges to smart card readers. Large companies trust their commercial identity to Diametric to recreate what is often their most prized possession, their brand, as a physical item to affix to a product.

The screen printing process in action
The screen printing process in action

A diverse range

Unlike many of its competitors, Diametric offers badges and labels which can be made from a massive range of materials. These include: injection moulded plastic, die cast metals, electroformed nickels, copper and chrome plating, anodised aluminium, stainless steel, zinc, brass, copper, vinyl, polyesters and polycarbonates.

“There is a limited market place for manufacturers to go to where one company, such as ours, can offer the complete solution for whatever labelling and badge requirements a manufacture might need,” says sales and marketing director, Graham Steele.

Managing director, Pete Knight continues: “Most of our competitors offer one or two elements of what we offer. They might provide aluminium products or plastic products but they generally don’t offer the added value extra assembly work that we provide. We can also apply many different forms of self adhesives and choose which one will best suit the application.”

Mr Knight says that currently about two-thirds of its customers are from the automotive industry, which he says has historically been strong but has increased of late in line with the booming UK car and motorcycle market.

“We’re now working with the majority of automotive OEM’s, either direct or via first tier suppliers” – Graham Steele, Sales and Marketing Director

“We’re now working with the majority of automotive OEM’s, either direct or via first tier suppliers”, says Mr Steele, who personally oversees Diametric’s work for the likes of Triumph, Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls Royce. “The work we do within the automotive market is vast and covers everything from exterior rear and bonnet badges to interior steering wheel badges, decorative trim and speaker badges.

“One thing we’ve seen really boom is the demand from the automotive manufacturing sector for interior badges that work well with carbon fibre. As a result, we’re increasingly producing electroformed decals, which are applied directly onto the carbon fibre before a high gloss lacquer is applied to encapsulate the logo or branding. The result is high clarity replication of the image that can be seen but not felt on a material that is super-light.”

By comparison says Mr Steele, the company’s work in the refrigeration industry illustrates the true diversity of Diametric’s product offering. For one its clients, Foster Refrigeration, which makes industrial fridge freezers and display cabinets, Diametric made the actual control panel which is therefore both decorative and functional. It is comprised of a membrane switch keypad which incorporates a display panel, logo and model number. Diametric also provides the product with a logo label which is resin coated and also includes three dimensional bright silver lettering.

Embossed and ready for profile cutting
Embossed and ready for profile cutting

Looking at process

For vinyl, polyesters and polycarbonate badges, colours are applied to the surface or subsurface of the material by silk screen, litho or digital printing. Embossed detail can then be added, such as a keypad with raised buttons or potentially some other different textured areas, which are also applied by a silk screening process. An adhesive is created and applied. Once the two parts are together the final profile is cut out and any additional internal holes are made using die-cutting on platen presses.

Plastic moulded badges are created using a 3D data file supplied by the client. A tool is cut to create the final shape of the part that needs to be moulded. Molten plastic is then injected into the tool under pressure. The majority of such badges are supplied with a self adhesive but can also provided to suit a range of different mechanical fixtures. Moulded plastic badges can also incorporate additional processes such as the creation and application of a decal which can be inserted into a recess of the mould itself so as to add a corporate label or similar.

Metal badges can be as simple as a nameplate such as you might find under the bonnet of your car. For such plates, the metal is anodised so that the pores of the material are opened up. The dye and inks are then printed on to the plate, which is then sealed. For other more complex badges, there are many different options available. Using a flat and relatively simple aluminium badge as an example, Diametric will take the metal, raise certain areas through an embossing process, then pass it through a post-finishing process which will add an effect to it, such as diamond cutting. The end result will include an image and text which will have a saw-tooth effect through it in order to better catch the light.

Not just decorative and functional but also safety conscious, Diametric also makes the warning labels and ID labels that fit on both the external and internal parts of the refrigerated cabinets themselves.

Demonstrating that the company is also moving with the times, Mr Steele says it has also incorporated digital printing into its offering. “We can also implement, on the majority of our processes, litho and digital printing,” he says. “So we can take a high resolution picture or artwork and reproduce that on to sheeted aluminium or plastic.”

“What we are trying to do is re-create someone’s brand as faithfully as we can but in as nice a way as possible to add value to the product,” says Mr Steele. “What makes us unique is the choice that people have when they come to us and we can provide them with an accurate representation of what their badge will look like.

“There are ways and means of producing a sample or prototype. Some of our larger clients have rapid prototyping capabilities, such as 3D printers, and will actually generate a prototype themselves in order to receive internal buy-in before providing us with the design files.”

Adhesive gaskets being prepared for final assembly
Adhesive gaskets being prepared for final assembly

While some might think it strange that large companies don’t simply produce their own badges, according to Diametric boss Pete Knight, there really isn’t any difference between a corporate or industrial badge and any other part that might be used in the creation of a car, motorbike or fridge.

“Most of our competitors offer one or two elements of what we offer. They might provide aluminium products or plastic products but they generally don’t offer the added value extra assembly work that we provide”Pete Knight, Managing Director

“The more complex a product, the better it is for the manufacturer to be able to buy in high-quality completed parts so as to make assembly as easy as possible,” he says. “This is particularly the case with the automotive industry where the production of many parts used on an OEM vehicle are outsourced, whether that be the piston heads or a corporate badge.

“To us it does seem obvious that badge creation would be outsourced to a specialised company such as ourselves. Not only do you end up with more polished piece but, by using a specialist company, businesses are not limiting themselves should they want to easily update the badge in the future.”

Diametric prides itself on having a real wealth of experience and a solid reputation for providing good service which incorporates a desire for the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

If you are interested in seeing what Diametric can do for your brand and corporate image, you don’t have to do anything aside from pick up the phone. Following an initial consultation, Diametric can provide suggestions and recommendations and will provide a very detailed specification.

Telephone Diametric on 0844 4123245