Category Archives: ID Tags & Plates

Metalphoto® workspace meets expanded customer needs

New Metalphoto and serial tag workshop at Pella Engraving Company

Almost 20 years ago, Pella Engraving Company saw the potential in Metalphoto and invested in the equipment to put this highly innovative technology to work for its customers. 

A unique process with many applications, Metalphoto requires an array of machines: developer tanks, sealing tanks, nippers, shears, and hole punchers. In recent years, demand for Metalphoto products like asset and ID tags has increased. In response, the PEC team improved its Metalphoto setup.

“We have the experience and capability to handle very large orders,” said Co-Owner Cory Vande Kieft. “With the updated workflow and the new tools we’ve integrated, our team is processing these orders even more efficiently.”

The PEC Metalphoto workshop features an open area where the nippers and hole punchers, once down the hall in the plaque-fabricating area, are installed on mobile tables. Both a new radius-corner nipper and a new shearer for cutting the metal have joined the existing equipment. One mobile table was fabricated in-house for some of this equipment, adding to the flexibility of the space.

“We worked with Medalist Manufacturing in Pella to custom build our hole punchers to run on pneumatic power,” added Cory. More shelving was also incorporated.

The combination of new equipment and a more streamlined workspace significantly increased the capacity Pella Engraving Company can offer its Metalphoto customer base. PEC is now more capable than ever of using its Metalphoto process to create high-quality, durable, and economic plaques, awards, serial tags, and more.

If you’ve got questions about a job and wonder if Metalphoto is a good option for you, contact us today!


Metalphoto® tags provide finishing touch for local manufacturing company


PEC made 20 Metalphoto serial ID tags for Kramer Metal Fab, a local manufacturing company.

When Rusty Kramer of Kramer Metal Fab needed labels for his product lineup, he knew exactly where to turn.

“We wanted top-notch, durable, long-lasting labels,” said Rusty. “We knew Pella Engraving could deliver.”

This spring, Pella Engraving manufactured 20 Metalphoto® serial ID tags for Kramer’s lineup of small Bead Form tools. Metalphoto is a specialized type of photosensitive anodized aluminum. Each tag in the Kramer project included the tool’s model, a sequential serial number, and the Kramer logo and contact information.

Bead Form tools are designed to form pressure hose beads in metal tubing to the standards specified by the Society of Automotive Engineering. They are especially useful in the automotive, motorsports, and aerospace industries, where they are used on fuel lines, radiator and cooling lines, intercooler and turbo piping, and anywhere else a rubber hose needs to be clamped onto a metal tube.

It can be rough work, so the durability of Pella’s Metalphoto ID tags was a big selling point for Kramer Metal Fab. On a Metalphoto tag, the text and images are actually sealed inside the aluminum, ensuring protection against corrosion, temperature changes, abrasion, and much more. “Because these tags are so durable, customers will still be able to read them 10 years down the road,” said Rusty. “They’ll be able to contact us for technical questions, replacement parts, or additional product. We’ll know exactly what they need because the model and serial number are right on the tag.”

Each tag included the tool’s model, a sequential serial number, and the Kramer logo and contact information.


The final, and most important, selling point for Kramer Metal Fab on this project was the company’s long-standing relationship with Pella Engraving Company. Rusty and PEC Co-Owner Jeff Vroom have known each other for years. In that time, the two companies have completed numerous projects for each other and built a strong foundation of trust.

“Having someone reliable who does quality work is key,” said Rusty. “Pella Engraving is consistently excellent. They always make it just right.”

PEC works with Adel group on powerful Veterans Plaza monument

Custom line art by PEC artist and etcher Jarid Purvis gives the monument a meaningful touch.

“Our goal was to create something really meaningful for veterans,” said Dennis Leininger of Oakdale Pride, the community organization dedicated to preserving Adel’s historic Oakdale Cemetery. Over the past year, the group has focused on revitalizing Veterans Plaza, the area around the cemetery’s flag pole that is also the site of Adel’s annual Memorial Day ceremony.

The monument is part of a larger renovation project centered around the flag pole area of Adel’s historic Oakdale Cemetery.

With funds for a new flag pole already donated by the American Legion, members of Oakdale Pride turned their energy towards building a monument to honor America’s veterans.

“We were looking for a firm we could trust to create the plaque for the monument,” said Dennis. After contacting seven firms, Oakdale Pride chose Pella Engraving Company. “We found Pella to be the most responsive, the most open, and the most confident they could complete the project the way we had envisioned it,” explained Dennis.

Oakdale Pride’s vision for the monument was simple on the surface: a door-sized limestone slab featuring a custom plaque. In addition to the seals of each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the plaque would feature an image of three soldiers, covered by a superimposed American flag.

Early on, Traci Thomas of Oakdale Pride teamed up with PEC’s Janeen Eastwood to come up with a plan for turning this vision into reality. PEC artist and etcher Jarid Purvis dedicated 22 hours to creating hand-drawn line art for the plaque based on the photo provided by Traci and her Oakdale Pride Colleagues. The project posed several unique challenges, not the least of which was recreating the semi-transparent American flag. “We don’t get to do art like this very often,” said Jarid. “Janeen and I worked really closely with Traci and Oakdale Pride throughout the project, which was a real pleasure.”


Jarid dedicated 22 hours to recreating by hand this photo provided by Oakdale Pride.

Jarid and PEC Co-Owners Jeff Vroom and Cory Vande Kieft also participated in the installation of the plaque at Oakdale Cemetery.

“Pella was so committed to collaborating with us and seeing the installation through to the end, you would have thought revitalizing Veterans Plaza was their own project,” said Dennis.



What is Metalphoto®?


Metalphoto is designed to withstand corrosion, abrasion, exposure to chemicals, and many other harsh environmental conditions.

When it debuted in 1950, the Metalphoto® process revolutionized the label, plaque, sign, serial and ID tag, and nameplate-making industry. Once the technology was made public in 1958, it became an indispensable capability for companies around the world, including Pella Engraving.

Metalphoto is a specialized type of photosensitive anodized aluminum designed to stand up to hard use and harsh environmental conditions. The secret of its durability? After the aluminum is anodized, text and images are actually sealed inside the metal. Both steps ensure protection against corrosion, sunlight, temperature changes, abrasion, salt spray, and exposure to chemicals. One frequent PEC Metalphoto customer reported attempting to scratch their serial ID tags with a key to no avail. These steps also guarantee the plaque, nameplate, sign, label, or tag will remain smooth, crisp, and legible for years to come.

This amazing durability, combined with high-resolution photo and data embedding capabilities, make Metalphoto the product of choice for many manufacturers and military and government organizations, including:

  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • NASA
  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S. Army
  • Boeing

Because words and images are actually sealed inside the aluminum, Metalphoto plaques and tags will remain crisp and legible for years to come.

Pella Engraving was an early investor in Metalphoto equipment. Previous PEC Co-Owner John Vroom had the foresight to encourage his son and current Co-Owner, Jeff, to integrate the process into the company’s manufacturing capabilities. For more than 20 years, Pella Engraving has been proud to use the Metalphoto process to create highly durable ID tags, ID plates, and plaques to fit the needs of our customers.

Check out our ID and serial tag and Metalphoto plaque services to learn more about how PEC uses anodized aluminum.

PEC fulfills order for 9,000 ID tags on schedule


To ensure accuracy, PEC developed a unique organization system: arranging cut tags by size and installation location.

When an order from a government customer for 9,000 Metalphoto® ID tags lands on your desk—for a battleship, nonetheless—you know from the outset that quality and accuracy will be imperative. Thanks to a well-planned manufacturing process and meticulous quality checks, Pella Engraving Company was able to deliver this gigantic order on a tight timeline to a happy end customer.

The variety in this job could have been daunting. Tags ranged in size from one-half-inch square to 20 by 24 inches. Some tags needed only one corner modified, others two—and not necessarily the same corners on each tag. “We only missed one radius corner on one tag,” said PEC Co-Owner Jeff Vroom. “We were very happy with that, and so was the construction company installing the tags on the ship.”

For signage on a battleship, the Metalphoto process is the only option because it uses Phototransfer technology to permanently embed dye into the pores of the aluminum. These tags will stand up to salt water spray and UV rays and will resist abrasion.

To reach this high standard, Pella Engraving invested significant time in planning how the order would be handled. “Organization was crucial to getting all 9,000 pieces manufactured, quality-checked, and shipped in time,” said Jarid Purvis, an artist and etcher for PEC. Jarid built a spreadsheet that divided the tags into small, medium, and large size groupings. Different part numbers indicated the final installation location on the ship: electrical, hull, pipe, or mechanical.


Tags ranged in size from one-half-inch square to 20 by 24 inches, with a variety of corner modifications.

After the tags were cut, they were arranged on tables that had been taped off into sections. After they came back from shearing and corner modification, PEC Co-Owner Cory Vande Kieft checked each tag for accuracy. On tags that needed it, adhesive backing was hand-applied.

“We’re always happy to invest the time needed to make it right for each customer, even if that means adapting or adding to our processes,” said Cory. “With our newly upgraded Metalphoto production area and equipment, we’re now able to offer even more capacity.”

To partner with Pella Engraving Company on your next Metalphoto ID or serial tag project, contact us today!

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