Embossed Tags Vs. Debossed Tags
This is a classic example of a "Debossed" dog tag.
This is an example of a "Embossed" dog tag.
At DogTagsRus we get questioned all the time
about the imprinting on the physical dog tags.
Some of the questions we normally hear are:
Dog Tag machines imprint dog tags with the style of
type that is loaded into the machine when it is
purchased from the manufacturer. The major
cost of a dog tag machine is the type die set.
Type sets consist of individual character stamps
manufactured to be a die and made of hardened tool
steel. Some machines are intended to deboss
text while others are intended to emboss text.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to
imprinting text onto individual dog tag blanks.
There is no industry standard, rules or regulations
as to the requirement of either embossed text or
debossed text. The only requirement is that
the text be permanently marked into the dog tag
blank so that it cannot be altered and it is legible
in use and over time.
The United States Military currently issues dog tags
types of imprinting.
Generally speaking - the majority of newer
computerized dog tag machines emboss text; while the
bulk of older machines such as Addressographs deboss text.
Note: either machine whether computerized
mechanical (Addressograph) can be set up
either way, to emboss or deboss, depending upon the
die set installed in the machine.
For some reason the military issued 95% of their
identification tags up until recently (within the
past 10 years) with debossed text.
By-in-large since machine produced dog tags became
standard issue most dog tags were debossed. In
WWII, Korea and Vietnam there was a 95% chance that
the dog tags would have been issued with the text
Due to manufacturing changes and newer machine
designs, embossing has become available as the older
Addressographs are replaced with newer computerized
and automated machines.
The United States Military currently accepts either
style of text imprinting. Since the style
of imprinting is dictated by the imprinting
machinery on hand at a given facility that is
equipped and charged with the task of imprinting dog
We know currently at Ft. Hood,
located in Killeen, TX, that both styles of
machines are still in current use. So
dependant upon who uses what equipment at Fort Hood,
you could either be given a debossed set of dog tags
or an embossed set of dog tags.
in Houston, TX which has the service contract to
repair the dog tag machines at Fort Hood and this
company has indicated that both styles of machines
are currently in use at Ft. Hood. The Addressograph
machines, which deboss the text, are still in use today but as they are
replaced, the military is buying the newer
computerized machines which emboss the dog tags.
So in conclusion - the military will
accept either embossed or debossed dog tag.
Embossing - Embossed - Emboss
1. Embossing is to press an
image into paper, metal or plastic so it lies above
the surface. Also called cameo and tool.
2. The creation of a raised (embossed) image by
pressing a shape into a sheet of paper with a metal
or plastic die.
3. Embossed is an engraved or raised image in
metal, plastic or paper.
4. Emboss is to press an image into metal,
paper or plastic from the reverse side so it rises
above the surface.
5. Emboss is to stamp in such a way that a
raised image is left on the finished piece, usually
with a die and a counter. See deboss.
6. Embossing produces raised letters and
numbers on metal, paper or a PVC card, e.g., the
account number and name on a credit card, by
mechanical pressure from the back side with dies.
7. Embossed - a machine presses a die into
the surface of the material, resulting in a
depressed area around the imprint desired. Imprint
appears to be raised.
8. Embossing technique uses top and bottom
dies to create a raised dimensional effect to the
9. Emboss - to mold or carve in relief:
emboss a design or a coin.
10. Repoussť (French for "pushed up")
is a metalwork technique in which a malleable metal
is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the
Debossing - Debossed - Deboss
1. Deboss - to press an image into material
so it lies below the surface. Also called
2. Debossing - to produce a sunken image in
the surface of a material.
3. Deboss - a machine presses a die into the
surface of the material, resulting in a depressed
4. Deboss - depressing (in a
blanking die) a portion or portions of the cap below
the ordinary surface level, usually to form
lettering or decoration. Sometimes the background,
rather than the lettering itself, is debossed,
leaving the letters at the original level of the
cap, thus giving the appearance of embossing;
otherwise the lettering itself is pressed down,
giving the appearance of engraving.
5. "Chasing" is another word for
debossed or debossing.
Embossing/Debossing is a metal forming
process for producing raised or sunken designs or
relief in sheet material by means of matched male
and female dies, theoretically with no change in
metal thickness, or by passing sheet or strip of
metal between the dies or desired pattern.
Metal sheet is them stamped between the male and
female die set producing a pattern or design on the
metal sheet. Depending on the die sets used
different patterns can be produced on the metal
Embossing round face
characters or designs
produced on sheet metal
having a thickness equal to
1/8 of the character or
shown below shows the final
embossed mark, a raised
three on the left hand side.
hand side shows the two dies
required to make the mark: a
female die for the top of
the part, and a male die
under the part.
When embossing must have
sharp corners (example shown
below left), height of
emboss cannot exceed half of
the stock thickness.
More gradual contours
(example shown below right),
permit embossing height to
exceed full material
thickness without shearing
the sheet metal.
illustration is prepared by
Columbia Marking Tools, Inc.
For all your industrial
embossing or metal marking
needs please call Columbia
Marking Tools, Inc.
The only thing that matters when it comes to text
imprint style is your personal preference.
DogTagsRus does not have embossing equipment so we
can not provide you with embossed dog tags. We
have found though that at events such as gun shows
and festivals or flea markets most customers want
the "original" debossing just like they had in the
military or were used so seeing while they were
New computerized machines are very expensive and we
at DogTagsRus have not had enough calls for embossed
tags to make the capital investment in equipment
dedicated to embossing dog tags.
So people have said that the embossed tags are
easier to read while some have said that the
debossed tags are easier to read. We feel this
also is personal preference.
As addressed above, either embossing or debossing is
acceptable and will meet all regulations and
requirements for all branches of the military.
It has been argued that some military units at the
unit level of command have verbal regulations as to
which style of dog tag is acceptable but
has been unable to verify any such regulations and
we cannot locate any supporting documentation.
DogTagsRus has confirmed that there are NO rules or
regulations governing debossing or embossing the
text into the tags themselves.
# # #