View Full Version : Picking your brain for a plaque material

Debbie Sweet
08-20-2010, 10:40 AM
I lost a bid a couple of weeks ago for a very large on-going order for plaques - about 2,200/yr. What they had was a PIANO finish 9 x 12 with 2 plates (4.5 x 7.5 black lazerable brass & 1.5 x 8.5" alumimark like plate - they had borders so that meant the whole thing was engraved vs. just verbiage floating in the middle of the plate). The engraving timed out to be 24 min. Plus there is a colored resin piece of their logo. The customer is getting all of this plus boxed and postage to their recipients for $18 (invoice was shown because it seemed unbelievable).

But the customer has had these same plaques for many years and may be willing to change if in this price range. I have racked my brain and looked in all kinds of catalogs - I need black - and everything black - like mirror, corian, marble are too heavy for their shipping budget. I would like to make this "our own" and rather keep it American Made. I only need to change the name and date so I was thinking of having the generic portion printed?

I haven't been able to go to the Vegas show last couple of yrs. so I'm behind on the latest and greatest. So I don't know if any body out there has any ideas that I can investigate. Is it pretty hopeless with this $18 budget?

Thank you for any ideas!!:)

Mike Null
08-20-2010, 10:51 AM
I don't see how you can make the plates for that price.

Debbie Sweet
08-20-2010, 10:56 AM

That was my reply also - someone is giving this away? But why? That have to be making some kind of money on it. I thought maybe it's all China made.

Ross Moshinsky
08-20-2010, 10:56 AM
The only thing I'd offer for $18 would probably be sublimated aluminum on a HGM board. Maybe I could also swing incorporating the cat medallion, but that seems pushing it at that price range.

Frankly, $18 is way cheap. I can't imagine a company staying in business for very long unless they have absolutely no overhead.

Scott Shepherd
08-20-2010, 11:20 AM
That's a crazy price, not to mention it's the boxed and shipped price. That would mean the price would probably need to be in the $12-13 range, manufactured.

Someone may be doing these out of their home, taking the (wrong) path of "anything I make is more than I had" route.

That's one problem people working from home often make. They devalue their services. If you add it all up, they work for less than $5 per hour, and somehow they think they are doing great because they look at the 2,200 pieces x $18 each and think "I just got a $40,000 job". Yes, you did. But for the 1000 hours it will take, you'll be making $5 per hour or less.

Liesl Dexheimer
08-20-2010, 11:50 AM
I agree, $18 sounds extremely cheap. I was thinking of sublimation but don't know enough about that area...

I hate when customers come in and expect to pay the same price they did in the past from another engraver/vendor and then you have to explain to them why you can't do it for that price...can be quite frustrating.

Dee Gallo
08-20-2010, 11:52 AM
I don't think I'd do that job on black cardboard for that price. 24 minutes on the laser for each one plus changing the wording for 2200? AND embed a resin logo plate? PLUS gift packaging and postage? They must be getting them from a sweatshop and you'd be insulting yourself to do that amount of work for that amount of money in my opinion.

cheers, dee

Mike Null
08-20-2010, 12:12 PM
Consider a laminated plaque. That will look like a piano finish and can be printed except for the logo.

Dan Hintz
08-20-2010, 12:18 PM
The customer is getting all of this plus boxed and postage to their recipients for $18 (invoice was shown because it seemed unbelievable).
I always question those situations... invoices can be easily faked, and it's not like they're going to be verified.

It's a very real possibility the customer was trying to get you to come down on your price... what do they have to lose?

Scott Shepherd
08-20-2010, 1:06 PM
I'd have no problem, at that point, pulling out my catalog and showing them the plaque blank is $7, the resin piece is $3, the 2 plates are $4, the shipping is $4, the box is $1, showing my cost BEFORE touching it is $19.

You know you aren't going to get the job, but it would let them know that you weren't trying to take advantage of them, but you honestly couldn't buy the pieces for that price, much less make a finished item.

I can tell you that in a trophy shop, that's probably a $35-40 item. You MIGHT get in the high $20's for a large quantity, but low $30's would be my guess.

AL Ursich
08-20-2010, 1:13 PM
I always question those situations... invoices can be easily faked, and it's not like they're going to be verified.

It's a very real possibility the customer was trying to get you to come down on your price... what do they have to lose?

I agree with Dan too.... Easily Faked.....

And Second.... Tell them to use the old company and be ready when he tells you they "WENT OUT OF BUSINESS"..... Laugh and say this is WHY.... Selling at COST.... Then give him the new price and smile like a Cheshire Cat....

If he walks away..... He will be back...


Kathy Madan
08-20-2010, 1:25 PM
I don't think I would even waste my time looking for an alternative at $18 shipped and boxed. There's no profit in it.

I just did a quote for glasses for a company but they thought my prices were too high and got a quote for $3 per glass engraved. That was my cost for glasses, no way could I engrave them for that.

Walk away.

Martin Boekers
08-20-2010, 5:57 PM
A few ?s

Did you see a finished plaque?

Did you research the company that did them.
(sometimes the quote isn't for the full work,
apples and oranges thing)

Plates can be bought with borders already on them
so then laser time would be shorter.

a 9x12 matte black composite plaque can be had for about

Plates for about $4 for a set, custom made to size with border
on the black, dye sub on the gold plate.

Resin piece?

So for the plaque you would have $5.50 no time no packaging.

Not sure what a direct mail fee would be. say $5ea

now you are at $10.50 no engraving no resin.

This doesn't take into consideration unsalable product and damage
from shipping.

I would still like to see a final piece for quality. In the Ad Specialties
business they have lasers designed to do a special products, glasses,
pens etc. That's why they can do the so cheaply. If you have seen
any of the Galvo lasers on You Tube you will see that they can engrave this
in a matter of seconds compared to what we use.

The plaques may come from China with plates already mounted then
run on a high speed laser. The quality of the metal I imagine would
be nowhere near the quality you would give them.

I could see this being possible from overseas, then shipping the plaques to a
"fulfillment" company stateside for shipping. Even then there wouldn't be much
profit for them.

The other thing is they may call it piano finish but chances are it's a gloss plaque.

The other thing is they may not be lasered, but printed.

Are all the same text?

This can be done, but from different equipment than what most of us use.

I do look at quote jobs like this to be educational as sometimes it
forces us out of our comfortzone and try to see how it can be done.

If you get a chance to see a plaque and post a photo here that would be great.

or even the company name that produced the pieces.

Hope thsi helps,


Debbie Sweet
08-20-2010, 5:59 PM
Thank you to all - it's nice to get feedback confirming what I thought. Just of curiosity -- where do you get LAMINATED plaques? I have purchased the regular black painted ones but I don't think they call them laminated. Thank You

Martin Boekers
08-20-2010, 6:06 PM
I use the matte black from JDS SBP912

It works well with mounting tiles or resin standees to it
with a plate underneath.


Mike Null
08-21-2010, 6:19 AM
This site will give you an idea. http://www.plastiplak.com/aboutproduct.html