By Keith Gentilin
Since their first iteration more than 100 years ago, self-piercing grommets and washers have enabled smaller sign and banner shops to scale production, improve productivity, and ultimately increase their profit margins. This combination is the most beneficial when the material does not already have holes for fasteners, as there is no need to pre-punch holes in the material when using a bench press. The bench press and the self-piercing grommet do all the work upon pushing the lever down, creating reliable hole reinforcement in seconds. Most sign and banner materials—including corrugated plastic, vinyl, and polyester—are easy to pierce with minimal effort.
What are self-piercing grommets and washers?
Unlike traditional fastening systems, self-piercing grommets and washers are specially engineered to pierce the sign and banner material and set the grommet in one action. During the setting process, the interaction between the grommet and the washer safely punches a hole in the material and coils the washer in one stroke. The system works in tandem with the bench press, and the corresponding self-piercing die helps set fasteners securely, confidently, and quickly. High-quality grommets feature a smooth inside edge designed to reduce friction with the cord or rope and premature product failure for the end-user. Although self-piercing grommets and washers from different manufacturers perform similarly, it is essential to check the tooling since compatibility between manufacturers is not guaranteed.
What are they manufactured from?
High-quality, solid brass grommets and washers are manufactured from cartridge brass, which contains 70 per cent copper and 30 per cent zinc. Self-piercing grommets and washers with this metallurgical composition are incredibly durable while still retaining malleability. Since they are manufactured from a heavier gauge and higher quality brass than traditional sheet metal fastener combinations, self-piercing grommets and washers will withstand commercial indoor and outdoor environments for many years.
Another popular base metal for sign and banner applications is stainless steel. Reputable manufacturers and suppliers use Grade 304 stainless steel, which contains chromium as an alloying element to inhibit rust. Since they do not rust, stainless steel self-piercing grommets and washers maintain an attractive appearance regardless of environmental conditions, making them an ideal choice for outdoor signs and banners—especially in marine environments. Stainless steel contains a high percentage of chromium and will “self-repair” when scratched or damaged, increasing the service life of the grommets and washers. Whether the application requires brass or stainless steel fasteners, both base metals retain their attractive, modern appearance after installation and instantly enhance the esthetic of any sign or banner.
Exploring new profit centres with finishes
No two sign and banner jobs are alike; the customizations available today are almost endless. Customers can now select from various materials, print options, reinforced edges, and material thicknesses. As sign and banner customizations continue to grow in popularity, “decorative” grommet and washer finish options are an emerging trend and an untapped profit centre for many sign and banner professionals.
Manufacturers and suppliers offer different finish options—including plain brass, nickel plating, and dull black—to meet changing customer demands and strict adherence to their brand guidelines. Although considered decorative, finishes inhibit corrosion and oxidation, making them ideal for indoor and outdoor signs and banners.