?Custom lapel pins are versatile enough to be used in modern businesses and other organizations for many purposes. Nonprofit organizations depend on them to increase awareness of social causes. Businesses use them to recognize outstanding achievements such as meeting sales or production goals. Even total strangers become friends by trading pins at Little League baseball tournaments. Custom lapel pins can be made in so many different styles and designs that they can fit just about any motivational, promotional or awareness raising concern. Military units have worn custom lapel pins at least as far back as the Civil War. Lapel pins were commonly used to denote specific military units and sometimes rank. Today, the tradition has evolved to the point that the military often uses custom lapel pins to honor distinguished service, either on or off the battlefield. Custom lapel pins are made in several different styles. Some styles are better suited for particular applications than others. The highest quality custom lapel pins available are cloisonn. These are created from a glass-like mixture of hard enamel on the die-struck metal base. To ensure durability and no color bleeding, each color is fired individually at high temperature. These custom lapel pins are the quality of fine jewelry and are the most durable lapel pin style made. Because the manufacturing process is so complex, cloisonn pins also are the most expensive type of lapel pins. Due to their cost, cloisonn custom lapel pins are best suited for pins for the business world. They are seldom used for sports trading pins. Soft enamel custom lapel pins are the most popular style used for sports trading pins. They look like cloisonn, but are less expensive because the colors are made from soft enamel and fired at a lower temperature. An optional epoxy coating can be added to increase their durability. The most popular custom lapel pins of all are sports trading pins. They are virtually everywhere at Little League baseball and softball tournaments. In recent years other youth sports such as soccer, hockey and football have taken note of the popularity and adopted them for trading as well. Die-struck custom lapel pins are commonly used for military-style pins. The pins are stamped from a die, just like cloisonn and soft enamel pins. But unlike the other types, die-struck custom lapel pins have no color added. They feature recessed areas that are sandblasted to give them a grainy appearance, while raised areas are polished to a high shine. The result is a classic, formal appearance. Offset digital lapel pins are the way to accurately reproduce gradients and drop shadows on custom lapel pins. Unlike the preceding pin types, these have no raised or recessed areas. Instead of being die-struck into the metal, the photograph-quality image is printed directly onto the pin surface. An epoxy coating is generally required to increase the durability of this style of custom lapel pins. Silk screened custom lapel pins feature colors printed one at a time, just like the silk screen printing process used to print T-shirts. These are ideal if you need to precisely reproduce logos, corporate text, drawings or photographs on custom lapel pins. Like their offset digital counterparts, these have no raised or recessed areas. These custom lapel pins require an epoxy coating to protect the image and increase durability. Photo etched lapel pins are an economical style of custom lapel pins. Because they are made of thinner metal, however, they are less durable than other styles. Using a chemical process similar to that used to develop photo film, the desired custom designs are etched into the surface of the metal. Like silk screen printed pins, the photo etched custom lapel pins require an epoxy coating for added durability.