The process of designing, ordering, and receiving custom medals is often streamlined by an experienced medal vendor, but there are a few key details that you should keep in mind as you consider the timeline and turnaround of your medal order.
Almost everyone knows what it feels like to have their hard work recognized with an award—it's one of the greatest feelings in the world. As an event director, you want this for your participants when you give them a high-quality, unique custom medal.
Most importantly, you want to ensure those amazing custom medals arrive on time. Simple, right? Sure, if you're familiar with the details that go into ordering and producing custom medals.
Here's a rundown of what you should know about the timeline of a custom medal order:
How To Ensure On-Time Delivery of Medals
As the event manager, there are a few questions you should ask yourself when you need custom medals:
1. What are the steps to complete a custom medal order in regards to:
- Determining the type of medal you want
- Artwork design and approval
- Order details and approval
- Logistics and shipping
2. What information can I gather or plan ahead of time to help streamline the ordering process and meet my timeline?
3. When is the order-by-date to get my custom medals on time?
The Stages of A Custom Medal Order
Choose the Type of Medal You Want
The type of custom medal you choose will play a role in how your order timeline is calculated. However, the steps related to artwork design & approval, production, and logistics & shipping apply to every type of custom medal.
Custom medals can be made out of a variety of materials. Some of the most common medal types are:
- Die Cast Medals
- Spin Cast Medals
- Die Struck Medals
- Insert Medals
- ColorMax Medals
- Wood Medals
- Acrylic Medals
- Glass Medals
- PVC Medals
Artwork Design and Approval
An important step in completing your order is artwork design and approval. Design time can vary depending on how elaborate your design is. If you don't already have a design, don't fret!
The best medal vendors have an in-house design team, so you don't have to worry about creating your own artwork. You'll need to provide some direction in addition to any logo or other required design elements. Typically art can be produced in about a week's time, depending on complexity, and any revisions will add time with each round of edits.
You can expect delays to pop up in the artwork design and approval step if multiple rounds of revisions are needed due to oversights like supplying low-resolution logos and art, incorrect/missing fonts, as well as slow communication and approval of artwork/revisions within your committee.
By discussing artwork requirements with your team ahead of time, you are more likely to shorten the turnaround time for the artwork design and approval process.
Order Details and Approval
There are a lot of details that have to be confirmed before your medals can be ordered, let alone put into production. Not only will your vendor have to know the size, quantity, and finish(es) of the medals you want, but there are other pertinent details like contact information, shipping & billing information, event date, in-hand date, etc.
In addition, any other items you want to order with your custom medals, such as neck ribbons, awards, and promotional items, will need to be specified at this stage of the process. If you require any special packaging or delivery options, you'll need to share that as well.
You will want to look over all of these order details carefully before giving the final approval for production.
Once your artwork and order details have been finalized and approved, the actual production (manufacturing) of your custom medals begins. As you might expect, standard production time varies depending on which medal type you've chosen.
Approximate production times* for each are:
- Die Cast Medals: 3-6 weeks
- Spin Cast Medals: 3-6 weeks
- Die Struck Medals: 3-6 weeks
- Insert Medals: 1-2 weeks
- ColorMax Medals: 1-2 weeks
- Wood Medals: 2-3 weeks
- Acrylic Medals: 2-3 weeks
- Glass Medals: 2-3 weeks
- PVC Medals: 3-6 weeks
Note that production times can vary depending on circumstances, such as material availability, capacity constraints, and quality control issues.
For example, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the worldwide supply chain experienced significant delays and shortages of materials, equipment, and manpower, causing lead times to increase up to 8 weeks longer than the standard.
Logistics and Shipping
After your custom medals have been produced, they'll be shipped. Shipping time will vary depending on where they're coming from, where they're going, and the method of transportation.
Transportation times for domestic shipments usually take 1-5 business days. Medal types that are made overseas (Die Cast, Die Struck, PVC, etc.) require additional transit time and are imported via air or ocean freight. Allow one week for air freight and 4-6 weeks for ocean freight.*
Delays that can negatively impact delivery timeframe can be attributed to things such as address corrections, mechanical failures, customs, weather, acts of God, and good ol' human error. In some cases, expedited shipping is available (at a pretty price, of course) and can help speed up delivery time so you can receive your order faster.
The whole ordering process/turnaround time will be quicker if all of your ducks are in a row before you actually start the process with your medal vendor.
This means you've thought about/discussed the following with your team: medal design requirements, quantity, budget, and order details. If necessary, assign a point person to be the liaison between your committee and medal vendor in order to avoid contradictory information (this just adds more delays or causes errors).
Allowing enough time (it always takes longer than you think) to nail down key details with your committee before contacting your medal vendor will speed up the overall ordering process and help ensure your custom medals arrive on time.
Custom Medal Timelines
In general, the following time frames provide you with a rough estimate of the total timeline from start to finish, including choosing the medal type, artwork design & approval, order details & approval, production, and logistics and shipping:
- Die Cast Medals: 5-8 weeks (via air freight), 10-14 weeks (via ocean freight)
- Spin Cast Medals: 5-8 weeks
- Die Struck Medals: 5-8 weeks (via air freight), 10-14 weeks (via ocean freight)
- Insert Medals: 2-3 weeks
- ColorMax Medals: 2-3 weeks
- Wood Medals: 3-4 weeks
- Acrylic Medals: 3-4 weeks
- Glass Medals: 3-4 weeks
- PVC Medals: 5-8 weeks (via air freight), 10-14 weeks (via ocean freight)
Keep in mind these timelines can be longer or shorter depending on your circumstances.* It is not uncommon to see delays in the process from issues like slow communication between your committee as well as relaying info back to your medal vendor.
Other delays result from procrastinating to order, not knowing how many medals you need, providing incomplete design requirements, and many rounds of revisions before final approval.
Rely on the Experts
As you can see, there are a variety of factors that determine how long it takes to order and receive custom medals.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of the custom medal ordering process. It may seem daunting, but with the help of an experienced and reliable medal vendor, you can get realistic expectations on the order timeline based on your specific needs.