The vast variety of badges leads to a variety of badge making companies. Most specialize in a specific area of badges or name tag production. For example, law enforcement shields are generally a highly specialized trade. For law enforcement, the badges have to be durable, but complicated enough in design that they cannot be easily copied. They are generally engraved onto metal. Firefighter and emergency medical technician badges are similar. Some branches of the military also wear metal badges. Laser engraving is commonly used.
Other companies may make badges, tags and plaques for corporate purposes. These include name tags or award plaques. Often, these are engraved onto lighter metal, plastic or wood. Wood laser engraving is also used for recreational badges and pins. Most badges are custom jobs, although these days the actual engraving is generally controlled by a computer.
Convention badges are often made using software and a computer and printer. Companies do, however, sell lanyards and plastic sleeves. Lanyards are also used for security ID cards. These are often worn by employees, especially in government and military facilities. Lanyards tend to be sold in bulk quantities at a discount, although personalized ones are also available. As security cards often carry a photograph to identify the holder, companies need the facility to transfer those photographs onto the badge. The government generally makes its own.
Girl and Boy Scout merit badges tend to take the form of cloth patches. They are made to standard designs and commissioned by the scouting organization itself. Merit badge holders often secure them to sashes.
Pins and buttons are made to a variety of designs. Some are used in politics, to show support for a candidate or a cause. Others make personal statements or are simply designed for aesthetic purposes. Companies sometimes give out pins for promotional reasons.