Awards & Engraving

June '18

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A&E JUNE 2018 • 41 Sales & Marketing sions and wood-turnings have mostly gone away, plastic extrusions still exist today as the primary column choice for those companies still making trophies. Around 1980, plastic bases filled with a stone-like composite material for weight presented themselves as a viable alterna- tive to marble bases. They did not chip as easily as marble and were easier to handle. TECHNOLOGY VERSUS AESTHETICS The market was much more aestheti- cally driven then than it is today. Designs came from a number of manufacturing companies that existed in the United States. It was largely a conglomeration of small, boutique companies that con- trolled the product flow into the industry. In contrast, today's market is techno- logically driven, and products are pri- marily controlled by a small handful of distribution companies that bring the bulk of their offerings in from China. Today's products follow technology, while in the past, products set the standard for technology. Roll back three, four, or five decades, and you had companies in the United States that specialized and pro- duced plastic and metal figures, plaques, the bending material, and metal columns mentioned earlier in this article; wooden and plastic bases; and even the hardware needed to assemble everything. Back in the product-first, technology- second era, we had products like the trophy typewriter that typed letters and symbols onto metal, table-top metal shears that were used to cut engraving stock, and a table used to assemble trophies — these were the technological advances of the day. There is even a tool that was developed back then that tightens a 1/4-20 hex nut called a trophy wrench. The difference is that many of these tools and machines followed the evolution of the products, sometimes not so well. For example, the early days of subli- mation featured monochromatic colors (a faded version of black) that worked almost exclusively on brass-plated steel that had a special polyester coating on it. The problem was that there was virtually no UV resistance, and the products faded almost as quickly as they were produced. It was not uncommon to visit a trophy company's showroom and see a plaque that was virtually impossible to read because it had faded so much. Today, of course, sublimation is extremely preva- lent and can be seen on a number of substrates in full vivid colors and has a high resistance to fading — certainly a welcome change to what amounted to the trophy industry's version of invisible ink back in the day. Today's technology allows plaques to be decorated using full-color graphics to create vivid imagery. IMAGE COURTESY ERIC PRICEMAN

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