The art of casting challenge coins in Lucite®

Challenge coins displayed on a wood base with military ribbons.

Challenge coins have long been a symbol of identity, membership, or recognition within a particular group or organization.

Typically, a challenge coin is small, about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, and made of metal with colorful accents. Many feature unique designs, logos, or inscriptions representing the group's values, mission, or achievements.

Many collectors have begun requesting custom keepsakes to protect and display their coins inside a crystal-clear thermoplastic named Lucite®. Suspending inside acrylic resins brings out the detail and highlights the colorful designs most challenge coins possess.


 

The military and challenge coins

Challenge coins originated from military traditions, where soldiers were presented with coins to signify their allegiance to a particular unit or mission.

The coins became a tangible representation of camaraderie and shared experiences among military personnel. Over time, challenge coins extended beyond the military – including law enforcement, corporate settings, and even among hobbyist groups.


 

How are they used?

One distinctive aspect of challenge coins is the practice of "challenges" or "coin checks."

In this tradition, a group member can initiate a challenge by presenting their coin. Other members must then respond by displaying their coins. Those who cannot produce their coin on the spot may be required to perform a task, buy a round of drinks, or face some other lighthearted consequence.


 

Challenge coins are a meaningful keepsake.

The significance of challenge coins lies in their physical form and the shared meaning and sense of belonging they represent.

They serve as a tangible reminder of shared experiences, achievements, and the bonds forged within a community. Beyond their decorative appeal, challenge coins are dynamic symbols of identity and pride, fostering a sense of unity and connection among those who carry and exchange them.

 

 

Challenge coin embedded in Lucite® with gold filled laser engraved text.Casting challenge coins in Lucite®, also known as acrylic resin, is a unique and innovative way to create distinctive and eye-catching keepsakes.

Traditionally made of metal, challenge coins have a long history, especially in military and organizational settings. However, combined with Lucite®, it creates a way to encapsulate the treasure within clear acrylic.

Due to its chemical composition, Lucite® does have some limitations. For instance, coins made of zinc and those colored with soft enamel do not cast well inside Lucite®. The chemical reaction during the curing process distorts the coin's appearance.

Generally, brass and pewter-based metals, colored with hard enamel or cloisonne, work well. In many cases, soft enamel with an epoxy dome cast beautifully.

Call our experienced design team to help create an exceptional American-made challenge coin that will cast well inside beautiful acrylic resins.

 

 

Lucite® is a transparent thermoplastic material that offers versatility in design and presentation.

Cast challenge coins in Lucite® are suspended within a crystal-clear resin, providing a sleek and polished appearance.

This method allows for various creative possibilities since our fabricators can embed multiple elements within the Lucite®, such as coins, logos, or other objects that hold significant meaning for the group or organization.

 

 

Desktop computer with design software loaded and in use.The process of casting challenge coins in Lucite® begins with the design phase.

The chosen emblem, logo, or image conveys the group's identity. This metallic design is then set gracefully within a mold that will become the rough shape of the Lucite® block. Our team can customize the rough acrylic casting to adjust for unique shapes, edge detail, and fine polishing to bring out the clarity of the acrylic resin.

The transparent nature of Lucite® allows for a dynamic interplay of light, enhancing the visual appeal of the coin. From any angle, whether a metal coin, emblem, or other object type – Lucite® offers a graceful option to display valued items.

Furthermore, Lucite® embedded challenge coins are durable and corrosion-resistant, ensuring a lasting and resilient token.

 

 

 

Acrylic Encasement with a challenge coin mounted inside a three part cavity with Chicago bolts.Encasements are another great option to display challenge coins that cannot be cast inside acrylic resins.

As discussed previously, we have found some combinations of materials used in manufacturing challenge coins to be incompatible with casting inside a Lucite® block. Though acrylic resins often do not react well with soft enamel and zinc, our Allure™ Encasement line is an excellent option for displaying meaningful coins that will not embed inside acrylic resins.

Rather than casting the coin inside the Lucite® block, an encasement is a sandwich of three acrylic sheets expertly cut and polished to encase the object inside the middle layer with a front and back cover. The sheets are held together with Chicago Bolts to protect the item from the elements.

 

 

Some benefits of an encasement are:

  • Easy to remove from the acrylic casing if required
  • Fully customizable with color printing and engraving


 

US Acrylic Awards knows Lucite® casting.

We are here whether you are a collector or have a challenge coin you saved for sentimental reasons. Every one of our castings is Made in the USA with pride – and we look forward to taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.


 

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