Category Archives: Dies & Printing Plates

Top ribbon producer counts on PEC for flawless foil blocking dies

chevron-stripes-horse-ribbonHorse Show Ribbons has a long history of providing high-quality foil-stamped ribbons for horse shows and equestrian events around the world. There is only one manufacturer Horse Show Ribbons Owner Page Estes trusts to provide the hot stamping dies she needs to create these ribbons for her customers: Pella Engraving Company.

Based in Wallingford, Connecticut, Horse Show Ribbons was founded in 1965 by Page’s mother, Ellie Estes, now 93. When Page, a former champion horsewoman herself, began to expand the business, she acquired a company that was using Pella Engraving to fabricate its foil blocking dies. Soon after, Horse Show Ribbons placed its first die order with PEC and has never looked back.

When Page gets a new customer, their unique artwork is sent to PEC and processed through its system. First, a negative is created and imprinted on 0.153-inch magnesium, then run through an imager (image on left below).

Next, the plate is placed in the developing tank to expose the bare metal. Then, it’s off to the etching machine where it is acid-etched to about .070” deep. The magnesium plates are then cut apart (image on right below). Although Horse Show Ribbons’ foil blocking dies are unmounted, PEC does offer mounting on wood or aluminum backers.


Horse Show Ribbons’ final die size is often 2.25 x 4 inches, but sometimes dies as small as 2 x 1 inch are created. The final size of the magnesium die is critical. “Even a fraction of an inch off on the size, and the dies won’t work in the press,” explained Page.

Page needs one master plate for each customer. This plate typically lasts 10 years. She uses a separate plate, also made by PEC, with place imprints—e.g., first, second, third, etc.—in combination with the main imprint for place ribbon orders. Using the presses in her shop, she uses gold or silver foil to stamp onto the color and style of ribbon chosen by the customer.

“We produce more than 500,000 ribbons each year,” said Page. Beyond equestrian customers, Horse Show Ribbons also makes ribbons for birthday parties, weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, and other events.


A hot stamping die made by Pella Engraving on the press at Horse Show Ribbons.

The resulting ribbon.

PEC gets a hot stamping die order from Horse Show Ribbons two to three times per week during their busy season, and about once a week the rest of the year. Because PEC fulfills same-day turnaround when artwork is emailed by 9:00 a.m. Central Time, Page knows she never has to wait long for her dies to arrive.

“They know exactly the size I need, and they’ve helped me out when I need to place an order in a hurry,” said Page. “They are so easy to work with—I would not think of going anywhere else.”



Pella Engraving joins Midwest Great Northern Printers’ Fair, supports Ladies of the Letterpress


This month, Pella Engraving Company will attend the Midwest Great Northern Printers’ Fair and Type on the Cob, the annual conference for the Ladies of the Letterpress international trade organization.

On September 17, Pella Engraving Company will join other letterpress experts at the famous Midwest Great Northern Printers’ Fair in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Running concurrently with the fair is Type on the Cob, the annual conference for the Ladies of the Letterpress international trade organization. Pella Engraving is a proud Ladies of the Letterpress sponsor. 

The fair, which begins September 14 and continues through September 17, is a gathering place for both experienced letterpress professionals and novices. Demonstrations, training, and an equipment sale are all on the agenda.

Type on the Cob is a three-day event with panels, presentations, and workshops. Topics include Wonders of the Windmill, Printing on Metallic and Holographic Stocks, and Wood Type Cutting Extravaganza. Learn more at

Pella Engraving will be offering samples to visitors, including a ready-to-use magnesium plate featuring a design created especially for fair and conference attendees.

Pella Engraving will be offering samples to visitors, including a ready-to-use magnesium plate featuring a design created especially for fair and conference attendees.

This is the first year PEC has been part of either event. “Pella Engraving Company is energized and excited by the resurgence we’ve seen in recent years in the art of letterpress printing,” said PEC co-owner Jeff Vroom. “Our decision to sponsor Ladies of the Letterpress and join this event was an easy one. We think it will be a great place to learn from other experts and share with attendees the capabilities Pella Engraving offers with its high-quality magnesium die manufacturing.”

Look for Jeff and fellow co-owner Cory Vande Kieft at the conference. Pella Engraving has been offering magnesium letterpress printing dies 82 years, and Pella Engraving’s customers have used these dies on well-known letterpress printing presses—Heidelburg, Kluge, Chandler & Price, Vandercook, and many more.

The location for the fair and conference is Printers’ Hall on the Midwest Old Threshers grounds. Learn more at

Pella Engraving helps Slip Disc Ministries soar


Jeff Vroom and Cory Vande Kieft show Jackie Gibbs of Slip Disc Ministries where his die plates are fastened so they can be acid-washed. The acid-wash process removes any excess material from the design and ensures that when the die is used on Slip Disc’s press, the final product is high quality.

For the Pella Engraving team, one of the most enjoyable parts of being in the engraving and printing die business is getting to know the customers who order their products.

“Our goal is to provide more than just the tools to do the work on,” said Jeff Vroom, Pella Engraving co-owner. “So many of our customers have unique stories, and when we understand what drives them and their businesses, we become a valuable partner—not just some nameless, faceless company they order printing dies from.”

“We consider many of our customers friends,” added Cory Vande Kieft, PEC co-owner.

Slip Disc hot stamping die

The Slip Disc logo on a foil stamping die.

Last month, the Pella Engraving team welcomed one of those friends, Slip Disc Ministries owner Jackie Gibbs, to its facility. Jackie’s company sends the word of God around the world on plastic flying discs ordered by churches and other Christian groups. Pella Engraving makes the foil stamping dies that allow Jackie to print his customers’ logos onto the front of their flying discs. One of Slip Disc’s five standard messages is typically printed on the back.

Jackie planned a special stop in Pella to see where his dies were made and to meet the people who make them. At the time, he was traveling from his home in Arkansas to Wisconsin to install a disc golf course, another service he offers through Innova® Disc Golf. 

Already an avid disc golf player, Jackie started Slip Disc Ministries 26 years ago after being inspired while on a mission trip in South Padre, Mexico, with the youth group he led. “I watched kids hand out a homemade flyer with information about a rally our group was hosting. It got dropped and floated to the sand, and I thought to myself, ‘Why can’t the message fly?’ I ran what I thought was a silly idea by some of my kids, and they went crazy for it.”

Since then, Jackie’s company has sent discs to 75 countries. Some of his most memorable projects have involved sending untraceable discs stamped with messages of God’s love to undisclosed locations where Christians are persecuted. The Duggar family carried Slip Discs to El Salvador in 2011. Slip Disc shared a slide show from that trip on its Facebook page. 


Ronda Pope handles Jackie’s artwork and transforms it into the necessary format to create his foil stamping dies. Most of Jackie’s orders are turned around within a day.

Slip Disc Ministries has been working with PEC for 10 years. “In Pella Engraving, we’ve found a kindred spirit, people that understand what we do,” said Jackie. He depends on PEC team member Ronda Pope to handle his customers’ artwork files—and to keep things lighthearted. “They’re very patient with me.”  

“Jackie is so passionate about what he does,” said Jeff. “It’s impossible not to get just as enthused as he is about the work he is doing. Having him plan a stop to meet us on his trip was an honor.”

Read more about foil stamping dies (also called hot stamping dies) here.

Pella Engraving Company welcomes former Royal Graphix owner


(Left to right) PEC Co-owner Cory Vande Kieft, Richard and Judy Eystad, and PEC Co-owner Jeff Vroom.

Pella Engraving Company played host to Richard Eystad, former owner of Royal Graphix, and his wife, Judy, on Monday, April 4. PEC purchased Royal Graphix, a respected die manufacturer in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 2015 after Richard’s retirement. Richard stopped by PEC to tour the facilities and see how his former customers’ dies are now being created.

“We were pleased to be able to expand our business last year with the addition of Richard’s loyal customers,” said Jeff Vroom, PEC co-owner. “We’ve already built great relationships with many of these customers by offering the same high quality and service they always received from Richard.”

Pella Engraving Company has been in the business of manufacturing premium-quality magnesium dies and printing plates since the company was founded in 1934.

From foil stamping to embossing—a die for every need

Slip Disc hot stamping design

SlipDisc-Hot-Stamp-pella-engravingPEC has a long history in the die industry—81 years, in fact. The company began as a letterpress die manufacturer for small-town newspapers in 1934. Throughout the years, PEC has continued to make letterpress dies, while expanding its die offering to include the following:

  • Hot stamping or foil stamping dies – Used with ink to print or foil stamp to create clean, crisp images on material such as cloth, leather, and more
  • Thermal kiss cutting dies – Generally used to cut outlines of a shape or logo on decals
  • Embossing dies – A male/female die set can be used to create raised text or images on paper and other light materials

Visit our die web page to learn more about our size, thickness, mounted base, and setup options for dies. If you’d like a price quote, email or call 877-549-5447 and ask for Bruce or Janeen. They’d be happy to answer any quoting or die questions you might have.

Products & Services

Plaques and Awards
From individuals, to schools, to businesses, Pella Engraving works with a wide range of customers… Read More…
Plaque Personalization Options
From detailed artwork, to vibrant coloring, to irregular… Read More…
Plaque Display Stakes
If you’re creating a plaque destined for exterior display, Pella Engraving Company manufactures high-quality outdoor display stakes… Read More…
Indoor and Outdoor Signs
If you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor sign for your business or organization, Pella Engraving… Read More…
Nameplates, ID Tags, Serial Tags
Pella Engraving Company is a reliable supplier of engraved, UV-printed, and anodized metal ID tags… Read More…
Recognition and Donor Walls
Pella Engraving Company’s recognition and donor walls can be customized at every step… Read More…
Magnesium Dies
Pella Engraving Company has been manufacturing quality magnesium dies and printing plates… Read More…
CNC Routing and Plasma Cutting
Pella Engraving’s CNC routing machine and CNC plasma cutter are capable of executing intricate engraved… Read More…
Sandcarved Awards
If you’re looking to bring variety and elegance to your corporate awards… Read More…
Laser Engraving and Laser Marking
Laser engraving is a diverse process that lends itself to both our plaque- and tool-marking capabilities…Read More…
UV Flatbed Printing
Add color to your plaques, awards, and other products with Pella Engraving’s flatbed UV printer. Read More…