by Jenny Knodell, IQS Editor
Look around you for a moment: chances are, many items on your desk have a design, logo or text made by marking machinery. Thousands of common, everyday products are marked for identification or decorative purposes. Bar codes, packaging or expiration dates, graphics and labels are found on just about every product or packaging these days. Embossing machines, a unique kind of marking system that produces 3-D raised text and designs on any malleable material, has many different uses. The embossing process is simple—material is fed through rollers with a patterned surface, pressure and heat are applied, and the material conforms to the pattern; no ink is needed, but it is often used on paper and plastic. Patterns in leather products and designs on greeting cards are embossed, adding detail and decoration. Embossing is a common post-forming process in steel service centers, where products like garage doors, refrigerator housings and metal coils are marked with a logo, text or texture. However, there are more important uses for this product—did you know that embossing machines also help prevent identity theft and aid in communication of the disabled?
Take a minute and dig out your wallet. Grab a credit card and run your fingers across the front and back. Did you notice that your name, account number and expiration date are all raised on the front and concave on back? Yes, credit cards, too, are embossed. Embossing cards does more than increase text visibility and add detail—it is mostly used by credit card companies and banks for security reasons. Credit cards are mass produced in high volumes, and embossed the same way. Industrial embossers have become components of credit card machinery. Banks, which emboss debit cards in smaller volumes for specific customers, use portable embossing machines. Embossed plastic is difficult to forge without the right equipment, making if harder for counterfeiters to produce fake cards or alter stolen ones. So rest assured, if your credit card is stolen, your name cannot be changed to a different one.
Credit Card Embossing
Perhaps more important than securing credit card user identities, embossing machines are used to produce Braille—the main system of reading and writing for the blind, which has been around for 200 years as of 2009. Current Braille marking machines are computer-controlled embossers that translate printed letters into raised bumps called Braille cells, which are 6 dots arranged into 2 columns. These translation machines are used in libraries, universities, special education centers and private homes of blind individuals. At-home embossers are even able to translate and print computer text, enabling blind individuals to use the internet much easier. Industrial Braille embossing machinery is used to produce raised Braille bumps on high volumes of books, signs, packaging, clocks and keyboards. As long as it is a ductile material, embossing machines can add Braille to virtually any product.
Braille Book Braille Embossing Machine