Custom Challenge Coins Options
Challenge coins are becoming more and more popular with military organizations. The United States Air Force gives a challenge coin to every Airman when they graduate from Basic Training. Officers in every military branch often have coins made to give to soldiers who have performed acts that deserve recognition, but are not noteworthy enough to receive a medal. These coins are often treasured by the troops that receive them as if they were medals.
The popularity of challenge coins has spread beyond the military. More businesses, clubs, and organizations are having challenge coins made to give to members, to sell at fundraisers, to use as awards or to recognize special achievements. Challenge coins can also be used to promote products or to advertise a service. Challenge coins can be used by almost any group, from little league teams to motorcycle clubs.
Typical challenge coins are double sided, 1.5″ in diameter and 2.9mm thick. However, custom challenge coins can be made to any specifications. The process of ordering custom challenge coins is simple; first, you must decide what artwork, logos or text you want on your coins and colors, if any. Then the manufacturer will use that information to create a digital proof, or mock-up of the coin. This will be your first look at the final appearance of your custom challenge coins. After you look at the proofs and suggest any changes if necessary, the dies will be made and coin production will begin. The cost of making the dies is likely to be several hundred dollars, but once made, the same dies can be used again and again to make more custom challenge coins when you have used or sold all the coins from your initial order.
The simplest custom challenge coins are usually made of bronze, with a design chemically or laser etched into the surface of the coin and then either polished or antique finished. High quality cloisonné coins are stamped from copper, filled with colored enamel powder and fired at 800-900 degrees, then ground smooth, polished, and gold, silver, or platinum plated. Sometimes cloisonné coins are coated in epoxy to further protect the coin’s surface. Soft enamel is similar to cloisonné, but instead of powdered enamel, liquid enamel is carefully applied to the coin before firing. This process is usually cheaper than cloisonné because it skips the grinding process. Soft enamel coins can be covered in epoxy for a smooth finish. Photo etching starts with an unstamped coin or coin “blank”. The design is chemically etched into the surface, and then color filled and baked. Like soft enamel coins, they can be coated with epoxy. Four color process is used when the customer wants a photographic design on their custom challenge coins. The advantage of using the 4 color process is lifelike detail and color. The disadvantage is that these coins must be covered in epoxy to preserve the design and may not be as durable as cloisonné or soft enamel.