It is possible with modern technology to make some name plates at home. Badges may be printed onto card stock and placed in plastic holders. Tags and even plates can be printed onto labels and fixed to a plain plate.
However, engraved plates are cheap and easy to obtain. Plaques and holders can be purchased in bulk quantities. Personalized name plates are custom, but still not expensive, unless a high quality material such as gold or silver plating is sought. Name plates can be wood, metal or plastic. Modern laser engraving techniques allow the use of all kinds of font. Most engraving is no longer done by hand, because special computer software is generally used.
Large offices commonly make one bulk purchase of holders, with name plates being positioned on desks, walls and doors. The plates themselves are switched out, however, and companies find a solid source of income from these accounts. Companies that sell name plates also sell other signs and often personalized gifts. They may also manufacture badges and name tags. In most cases, they buy the blank plates from a distributor and then sell to companies and the general public. Plates may be sold separately or with a plaque or holder. Signs may be custom made, but most companies also provide a number of standard designs.
Engraving is generally done by computer, but some hand engraving is still performed. Some consumers are willing to pay a premium for hand engraving. Workers need to accurately transcribe the customer's requirements onto the plate.
Name plate companies often sell through web sites and thus contract out to designers. They may also sell through office supply stores and other retail outlets. In most cases, they do not generally sell to the general public, but rely solely on retailers to purchase their items.