Visual Communications Co., Inc.


Engraved Plastic Tags and Signs

Plastics used for engraved plastic tags or signs are a multi layered laminate whose composition is based on the various types of engraved plastic tag end products desired. Modern engraveable plastics replace and are superior to the phenolics and lamicoids of the past. The various plastics available are; laminated ABS, acrylic cap ABS core and laminated impact acrylic. Some have a micro-surfaced face for delicate, less durable products. Other materials have a harder, thicker face layer. Some are even textured.

The most common multi layer plastic tags are single side engraved two layer laminates composed of a base layer and top layer both of varying thicknesses dependant upon the application. The top layer is carved through with the specified text or image thereby exposing the base. The base color thus becomes the color of the letters or images. The top layer becomes the background. Two sided tags use a three ply laminate or two ply materials can be glued back to back in some larger applications.


Reverse engraved tags and signs offer a smooth face that is created through the use of a transparent top layer and opaque back layer which is reverse back engraved and the text or image is paint filled in the customer’s color choices. This provides an easily cleanable and more weather durable front face and affords the opportunity to have multiple colors within the same plastic tag or sign.

Our stock multi-layer materials are 1/16 inch thick with varying top layer thicknesses determined by intended applications and durability requirements. Some materials are also available in 1/32", 3/32" and 1/8" by special order. Materials come in a multitude of compositions, qualities and colors to be able to match them to the environments or decor in which they will be located.

We use Rowmark, Innovative Plastics materials exclusively, noted not only for their consistently high quality but diversity of materials availability sufficient to fulfill most customer needs.


Engraving is a carving method accomplished through the use of a table fed mini rotary router called an engraver. Lasers can also be used for this purpose. These machines carve one letter at a time. They are computer controlled to move the cutter or table on the x and y axis and also vertically as needed. Plastic tag and sign shapes are cut and beveled but square edges can be requested. Attachment holes, slots or cutouts are incorporated as part of the engraving process. Engraver precision can be set to a tolerance of .001 inches and similar precision is also available in metric dimensions. Please note that engraving is not a printing process.


Single line engraving techniques are usually used for ‘standard’ tags and signs. In this method the engraving is completed in one pass since the width of letters created is the same as the width of the cutter. This process is limited to small signs and tags since the cutter sizes are limited to .25 inch. For larger or more prominent sign text and designs, multi pass engraving is necessary. Though multi line engraving increases price due to increased production time, it has the added advantage of providing crisper and more detailed results, multi line engraving is determined by your needs and the fonts you choose.


Fonts (letter styles) used for the text to engrave plastic tags are specifically designed for engraving purposes. Engraving machines need tool paths to follow. We also create tool paths from your art and text when needed. To minimize set-up design charges it is recommended that customers provide importable texts and designs for us to use as a starting point in achieving the final product, set up charges should be expected. Customer art work is archived to be available for repeat orders. This ensures exact repeatability on re-orders.


Layout The length of text usually determines the length of tag necessary. It is virtually impossible to engrave the Gettysburg Address on a 1" X 1" tag. If you are not sure what size tag you need, send us the text and indicate text height or distance it needs to be read from and size constraints dependant upon location. Tag sizes may also need to accommodate attachment methods if mechanical mounting devices are used. Typically where tags are used together in a grouping it is good practice to size all the tags to the needs of the longest line of text. For consistency sake and overall appearance, plates of the same size provide a more professional presentation. Unique non-standard format and layout needs can easily be accommodated on a custom order basis.


Plastic Tag and Sign Specifications

To be able to complete an order for you properly all the following criteria need to be provided. On custom orders that you are submitting for bid or direct production purposes, please include drawings with as much applicable detail as you can provide. Orders or requests for quotes can be emailed, sent through our website, faxed, or mailed.

DIMENSIONS – Specify in inches or millimeters up to three decimal points of accuracy if desired.

MATERIALS – Unless you are knowledgeable about engraving materials and know specifically what laminate you would like used, we will choose the best product based upon your design and application. Please specify intended use, as indoor versus out, including any unusual environmental factors

COLOR – Specify face and letter color. Two ply for one sided signs or Three ply for two sided signs or tags. On printed tags and signs we will need a complete layout drawing with all the various colors specified.

THICKNESS - Typically 1/16" is standard, 1/32" or 1/8" are optional choices.

TEXT FILES – Provide copy of text precisely as you would like to see it appear. When ordering, a "Word" file or an "Excel" file of the copy is preferred for large jobs. In "Excel", place the first line of text in one column, second line in the next column, etc. Do not include any spaces or tabs in these cells. If there is only one line on some tags, leave the second column empty. If you need ten of the same tags, send ten rows of that item. Do not create a separate column with various quantities.

We prefer to produce logos and images directly from your prepared files. Also we can import "Corel", .eps, jpegs and bitmaps. Non-vector files will have to be computer manipulated into a vector file format in order to run our engravers. Computer time and layout fees are priced individually and accordingly.

FONTS – Choose letter styles from the standard fonts listed on this site. Other fonts are also possible if they can be obtained in vector files, either by you or us upon your request. Any text sent to us as lines and curves can also be effectively used

EDGE TREATMENT – Specify whether beveled or square.

ATTACHMENT METHOD – Choose double stick tape, holes [1/8" is standard unless you specify differently ], bare back, Velcro, or magnetic.

CUSTOM SHAPES - For cut out shapes and hole locations, we need as detailed of a drawing as you can provide. Specify holes and curves by radius or diameter. Our engraver table size is 24x 48". We can load a somewhat larger piece but can only engrave within that area.

BENT PLASTIC – Our plastic bending equipment has a capacity of 24 inches. Bends of any angle are possible. Typically bent plastics are used for self-standing signs as well as various types of holders. If you have a novel idea or need for some sort of bent plastic, we will consider it a challenge to fulfill your requirements.

QUANTITY DISCOUNTS - We can offer you quantity discounts on engraved jobs with 50 or more pieces of the same size, same or simple text, provided in an importable file format. We sell standard ADA pre-made signs and can produce ADA compliant signs with Braille. We can produce any and all code compliance signs, warning signs, hazard signs, specifically and exactly as needed to satisfy the most discriminating of inspectors.


LANGUAGES - We typically engrave in English. Numerous foreign languages as European, Russian, Oriental and Arabic have been ordered and produced as well. Any and all languages can be engraved. If we do not have a font to meet your needs, we can import files you provide as lines and curves rather than letters and work from that. In non-English languages and letters we will be relying on your knowledge of the language to provide the proper letter shapes, spacing, and formatting which we will reproduce exactly as you have provided.

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