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Durable, vibrant color at a lower price

Pella Engraving has purchased a brand new printer, the DirectJet 1024 UV printer from Direct Color Systems®, with the ability to print crisp text and sharp, detailed images in vibrant color. It can print on a wide range of materials, including wood, ceramic tiles, plastics, and glass. For PEC, however, its best feature is its ability to print directly onto metals, including custom plaques and awards.

“The new printer will be an alternative to our usual color-fill process of coloring plaques, and will save time and money for our customers while retaining the class of a high-quality plaque,” said Jeff Vroom, PEC co-owner. “If you’re looking for a way to print graduated color on your plaque—such as on a corporate logo or government seal—the new printer will be ideal.”

Images printed with the 1024 UV are highly durable. The UV-cured inks are resilient to abrasion and solvents, and won’t crack or flake off with time. The maximum print size is 10” x 24” and 6” tall.

New engraver expands product offerings

new-engraver-pella-engravingPEC’s newest engraver, the IS8000 Rotary Engraver from Gravograph, is fast, accurate, and powerful. “We’re very excited about this new piece of equipment,” said Jeff Vroom, PEC co-owner. “Its more precise and intricate capabilities will allow us to expand our product offerings.” The fast engraving speed of 9.45 inches/second does not detract from the reliability or quality.

The new engraver will also be able to tool into a wider variety of metals—even stainless steel. It also allows an expanded size range of up to 24″x48″. Soon to be operational, it joins PEC’s lineup of other engraving options such as CNC routing and plasma cutting, metal etching, and laser engraving.

CNC Router and Plasma Cutter – Pella Engraving’s CNC routing machine and plasma cutter are capable of executing intricate projects. Both machines are computer-controlled, ensuring accuracy and facilitating fast turn-arounds. We can manufacture individual letter cut-outs, cut irregular shapes with accuracy, cut curves and sharp corners with precision, and produce large signage in one piece.

Metal Etching – A photo-negative is prepared for artwork that needs to be etched. This image is exposed on the photo-sensitive surface of the metal. The coat hardens, covering and protecting the areas that will not be etched. The exposed metal is then chemically etched to provide a clear relief image. Color finishing and a clear coating result in a professionally finished product.

Laser Engraving – Pella Engraving offers a line of laser-engraved products which are perfect for a distinguished looking plaque or award. The most popular surfaces for laser-engraving are wood and acrylic, coated brass, leather, plastic, rubber, or stainless steel can also be etched. Once a product is etched, gold, silver, or a wide range of colors can be added to most laser-engraved products. For a different look, vectoring is used, a process where the machine cuts completely through the product to create an outline or shape.

How it’s made: An in-depth look at making a high-quality plaque

etching-pella-engravingPlaque making is an art. It takes time, talent, training, and technical know-how to produce top-quality plaques like those created by Pella Engraving Company (PEC). Pella Engraving plaques serve hundreds of purposes and are installed in countless different locations.

Because PEC offers customers a plaque for every occasion, the total number of combinations available is virtually infinite. “With all the material, finish, color, thickness, and mounting options, the possibilities go on forever,” said Jeff Vroom, PEC co-owner.

With so many options to choose from, Pella Engraving knows customers will need a little guidance to help determine the best plaque for their needs. So, the first step in the plaque-making process is visiting with a PEC customer service person, who will ask questions like: “Will your plaque be indoors or outdoors?” and “Do you have any artwork you’d like to feature?”

After the specific type of plaque is determined, typesetters and layout artists work with the on-paper design. If a portrait is to be included, PEC’s portrait artist creates those drawings by hand. “We use desktop publishing software and provide customers with a proof to review,” said Bruce Van Wyk, PEC co-owner. “Many times, we’ll give them a few different layouts to consider.”

After the proof is approved, the artwork is sent to an image-setter to be put to film. The film is then used to transfer the plaque layout to the chosen metal. Then, an etching machine operated by a technician etches away the background of the plaque, leaving raised text and images. “We can also create plaques in reverse,” added Jeff.

Next, any little flaws are removed from the metal using hand tools. It’s this attention to detail that makes PEC plaques some of the best available. “We are thinking about quality all the way through the process,” said Bruce. “Jeff constantly researches to make sure we offer the best products, paints, and finishes.”

Holes are then drilled, and corners are rounded if desired. Finally, the plaque is chemically cleaned and painted, sanded, and clear-coated for protection. The finish must be completely dry before the plaque is mounted.

Pella Engraving can complete about 175 plaques in a full day.

In spite of their production volume, Pella Engraving understands the meaning of each individual plaque. “A customer once called to thank us and said our plaque, which honored his deceased brother, brought tears to his eyes,” said Bruce. “We understand how important our products are to our customers, and that is why we take such care with what we do.”

Pella Engraving ground stake options

The Garden Stake

The Garden Stake

If you’re creating a plaque destined for exterior display, consider ordering a stake from Pella Engraving Company to meet your presentation needs. 

We offer two types of stakes. Our garden stake option can display smaller plaques closer to the ground. Our taller, two-piece heavy-duty stake comes in three different height options. With any of these stakes, your plaque can be in a landscape or portrait orientation.The garden stake is a 22-inch tall, black-painted aluminum stake with a small backer plate onto which your plaque is mounted. Normally, a zinc 1/8” thick plaque will be mounted to the backer with studs, or a Metalphoto 1/16” thick aluminum plate will be mounted to the backer with exterior tape. The plaque comes pre-attached to the stake, ready to be placed in the ground. Maximum plaque size recommendation for the garden stake is 8×10 inches.The two-piece heavy-duty stake is used for larger sized plaques, or if a taller stake height is desired. This stake comes in two parts for assembly after shipping:

  • A 4, 6, or 8-foot solid, black-painted aluminum pole
  • A separate backer head-mount with the plaque attached

This allows the customer to secure the stake into the ground before attaching the head-mount. On the back of the head-mount is a bracket that slides onto the pole once the pole is in the ground. It can then be tightened with screws.

A plaque attached to a heavy-duty stake

A plaque attached to a heavy-duty stake

Back view of a plaque attached to the heavy-duty stake

Back view of a plaque attached to the heavy-duty stake

The heavy-duty stake will arrive in two sections: the head-mount (shown here) and the pole

The heavy-duty stake will arrive in two sections: the head-mount (shown here) and the pole

The head-mount slides onto the top of the pole (shown here) and can then be tightened with screws

The head-mount slides onto the top of the pole (shown here) and can then be tightened with screws

The bottom of the pole – solid, black-painted aluminum

The bottom of the pole – solid, black-painted aluminum


Custom stake colors and sizes are also available upon request. If your plaque is wider than 24 inches, you may want to consider ordering a two-stake support. Call Pella Engraving for more information.

Introducing PEC installation kits

When you receive the plaque you’ve ordered from PEC and your customer asks you to do the installation, do you wonder what you need to complete the job and how to do so? 

plaque-installation-kit-pella-engravingYou aren’t alone. We’ve had many questions about this issue, which is why we’re pleased to announce the availability of installation kits. These kits contain everything needed to install plaques into concrete or brick walls, as well as sheet rock walls.

The kits include:

  • Pro Flex adhesive
  • Caulking gun with cutter and tool to puncture the tube of adhesive
  • Epoxy (for concrete or brick walls)
  • Masonry drill bit (for concrete or brick walls)
  • Paper towels

It is our hope that these kits will make the installation process as easy as possible. They will sell for $35.00 and are available upon request.

Products & Services

Plaques and Awards
Plaque Personalization Options
Plaque Display Stakes
Indoor and Outdoor Signs
ID and Serial Tags
Recognition and Donor Walls
Magnesium Dies
CNC Routing and Plasma Cutting
Sandcarved Awards
Laser Engraving and Laser Marking
UV Flatbed Printing