You may have heard about or even used vehicle identification numbers (VIN), especially if you are in the automotive industry.
Applied using many different techniques, VIN marking is useful in part traceability, theft deterrence among many other uses.
These numbers have been used on all types of vehicles for many decades.
Yet few people understand the depth to which VIN marking has gone to in recent times, or the significance this technique has in the vehicle industry.
So what is VIN etching and engraving?
Let us find out.
A brief description of VIN
A VIN or vehicle identification number is a unique serial number usually printed on the engine as a security feature and for identification and traceabiity purposes.
VIN numbers are also referred to as chassis numbers or engine numbers depending on the country.
Automotive manufacturers, dealer shops, spare parts dealers, vehicle insurance companies and even individuals make use of VIN etching and engraving machines to print these unique codes on various parts of the vehicles depending on the purpose. Some add extra VIN engravings as a proactive security feature to act as a deterrent to vehicle thieves or to help them identify stolen vehicles and spare parts while others add VIN engravings to comply with local regulations or perhaps insurance requirements.
Is VIN Engraving Really is a valuable undertaking?
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons and advantages of doing high-quality VIN engraving/etching in more detail to appreciate why you or your company should invest in a state-of-the-art VIN engraving machine.
VIN Engravings Act as Theft Deterrents
Astonishingly, a car is stolen every 43 seconds in the USA alone, with the United Nations putting the problem at an average of 68.5 cars stolen per 100,000 residents.
VIN engraving has been identified as one of the most useful deterrents of this crime.
If you invest in a good VIN engraver that does permanent VIN engravings or etchings, you will have a potent first line of defense against would-be car thieves. Studies have shown that vehicles with clearly visible VIN engravings on the windows, windscreen and other parts are not very popular with car thieves.
The use of VIN engraving in theft deterrence is so successful that some law enforcement agencies actually hold free VIN engraving events in their jurisdictions where the general public can have their cars engraved at no cost.
An example of such agencies is the Las Cruces Police Department in New Mexico, USA that holds periodical free VIN engraving/VIN etching events for residents in the city.
Here are some reasons why;
They can’t resell stolen vehicles quickly
VIN plates or tags can be removed easily when a car thief gets a hold of your car. However, permanent marking done with a good VIN etching machine are extremely hard to get rid of. This means the thief can’t resell your vehicle quickly.
Car thieves hate this and will most probably give your precious automobile a wide berth when they realize you have visible permanent VIN markings all over.
They can’t sell the parts quickly
Some of the best places to do machine engravings are on car windows, side mirrors, windshields, and other removable parts.
Most car thieves disassemble cars into parts which they then sell to hard ware retailers for reselling.
When you mark your car’s most resalable components, it makes your car unattractive to that kind of thieves.
Most second-hand spare parts dealers don’t buy spare parts with VIN engravings unless the seller presents some form of documentation as proof of ownership.
Law enforcers can easily track vehicles with clear VIN engravings
Most are provided with automated mobile/handheld VIN scanners connected to a central database that can identify a stolen vehicle wherever they are.
If there’s one thing a car thief loathes is driving around in a stolen vehicle with visible VIN engravings that can be flagged by random law enforcement officers with the right scanning technology.
Insurance Companies Encourage VIN Engraving
You can have a great discount on your comprehensive car insurance premiums if you have added VIN engravings or etchings to your vehicle as a security feature.
Insurance companies are the biggest advocates of VIN engraving for purposes of security.
Some even offer discounts of up to 15% on car insurance packages for vehicle owners and dealerships that invest in VIN engraving.
VIN Etching and Engraving Applications
Depending on your current setup or situation, there are several approaches to adding these all-important permanent VIN engraves on your vehicles.
VIN Engraving for Vehicle Manufacturers
In almost all countries, it is a requirement for vehicle manufacturers to do at least one permanent VIN engravement on the engine or chassis for purposes of identification and compliance with international ISO standards for vehicle manufacturers.
Even though it’s not a requirement, some manufacturers also do extra VIN markings on other parts of their vehicles as an added security feature.
Vehicle manufacturers can use automated marking machine to do large scale industrial marking.
By investing in high-quality VIN marking system that can even help in the generation of serial numbers, manufacturers can achieve higher throughput and roll out already marked engines/chassis.
Incorporating fully automated or semi-automated industrial VIN engraving machines is easy if you go for a high-quality solution that matches your needs.
VIN Marking at The Car Dealerships
Car dealerships can offer customized VIN engraving service as an add on or as a paid-for feature on request. Some dealerships provide extra VIN engraving services for free, especially if they have an arrangement with a particular car insurer to offer discounts for the cars sold in that dealership. This can be a great way to market your vehicles and drive sales while earning affiliate revenue from the partner insurance company that you recommend to your clients.
Paid for custom VIN engraving at the dealership is another way to generate an extra revenue stream. Since you deal in vehicles and understand the importance of securing cars with additional VIN engraving, why not offer it as a service to your customers and earn some extra bucks? You can invest in portable dot peen marking machine or handheld engraving machines that can be used anywhere in the showroom. Also, use your knowledge and experience to advise clients where to do the VIN engravings for better security and ease of identification as most of them may not have a clue.
VIN Engraving for Individuals – Do It Yourself
VIN engraving machines are not that hard to handle as they don’t need any specialized training or expertise.
There are standard VIN engraving kits and machines available that you can buy and do the VIN engraving on your own, in your garage with little or no training in etching. This is great for those who would love to save some coins or those car savvy types who like to tinker with their cars and do minor repairs on their own.
For Businesses/Companies-VIN Engraving for Security and Identification
You can apply the technology if you operate vehicle fleet in your business and want to add an extra layer of security by adding permanent VIN engravings.
Managing several- mostly identical- vehicles can be a nightmare in terms of security, identification, and even tracking.
Company vehicles also happen to be the biggest targets for car thieves since they tend to be identical and easy to breach.
Modern thieves have devised sophisticated ways to bypass and deactivate expensive vehicle tracking systems favored by companies such as car hire businesses.
Sometimes it’s good to go for traditional tried and tested ways to secure your fleet and deter thieves from vandalizing or stealing your vehicles. Additional VIN etching or VIN engraving is a recommended solution for companies to secure their fleet and also help law enforcement to track their cars if they get into the wrong hands.
A Comprehensive Guide to VIN Engraving for All Vehicle Varieties
Now that you have understood the importance of doing VIN engraving and made a decision to mark your vehicle(s), there are a few tips you can follow to maximize the benefits of the VIN engravings you will make.
Different vehicle types have optimal areas where VIN engravings can be done.
The core principle with VIN etching and engraving is to add them in non-obvious locations that most thieves can’t think of in addition to the deterrent visible markings. Here are a few suggestions:
How Many Characters in a Vin Number?
A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) consists of 17 characters. These characters are a combination of letters (except I, O, and Q to avoid confusion with numbers 1 and 0) and numbers that provide specific information about the vehicle. This standardized format ensures that each vehicle has a unique identifier, which includes details about the manufacturer, vehicle attributes, and the year of production, among other critical data points.
VIN Engraving for Motorcycles
Motorcycles theft has become quite rampant in the recent past. Cloned motorcycles made of stolen parts from other bikes have flooded the market and can be hard to identify. You can read about motorcycle theft and cloning on this bikerandbike article.
You can start with the bottom of the windscreen for motorcycles. It may be a conspicuous location, but its visibility can act as a deterrent.
There are no written rules concerning the location of VIN engravings on your motorcycle as it depends on your preferences and aesthetic considerations. Here are a few suggestions on where to put VIN engravings on a motorcycle;
Headlights: You can engrave on the flat side of the headlight or brake lights.
Inside or to the side of the exhaust pipe- VIN engraving machines can do engraving on all kinds of surfaces including metallic and non-metallic, curved, concave, convex, round surfaces, etc.
Foot Peg: You can do a discreet VIN engraving on the foot peg (preferably at the bottom)
Other markings can also be done to considerable great effect on front forks, rims, seat, fuel tank among others.
14272860967VIN Engraving on Saloon Cars, SUV’s Vans, Etc.
Start with the standard VIN etching on the windshield and then consider adding additional engravings on these areas for maximum security.
Door panels: Clever markings placed on the door handles can actually both improve your personalization aesthetics as well as serve as effective deterrents because door handles are the first things potential thieves will see before they enter your vehicle.
You can also apply deterrent etching on side windows, in the trunk, somewhere on the transmission, mirrors among others.
Avoid doing VIN engraving on parts that are frequently changed, such as the rims and brake calipers unless you want to secure them too.
VIN Marking for Trucks
VIN labels are of extreme importance for trucks as most truck buyers carry out highly detailed commercial VIN checks to choose a truck that meets all their requirements. There are clearly set out formatting rules for manufacturers about VIN engraving. The main focus when it comes to trucks is durability and formatting. You can follow the same principle of “not so obvious” engraving locations when it comes to additional engravings for security purposes.
Choosing the right VIN marking machines
Depending on your needs and current setup, different engraving machines are available to fit every situation.
For instance, laser engravers tend to be bulky and can be used in a fixed installation to do engravings on removable vehicle parts while smaller portable dot peen marking machines can be used in the vehicle as they can fit in smaller spaces.
VIN Engraving Vs. Etching
There are two different technologies used in this trade, namely; etching, and engraving.
Choosing one or the other depends on personal preferences, machine selected, and also the kinds of surfaces you will be working on.
For example, VIN etching is more appropriate for glass surfaces such as the windscreen.
You can use the laser etching machine to do this kind of work. The dot peen marking machine is best suited for adding VINs on metallic surfaces.
How to Use the VIN Etching and Engraving Tools?
As you will see for the attached video tutorials, using these tools is quite easy. However, you should also adhere to the set safety requirements when using the machines to avoid injuring yourself as you work.
Here is a video tutorial on how the portable dot peen marker to print VIN numbers and other content on metallic surfaces.
You can check the video tutorial as follow to learn how the laser marking machine work.
How to Choose the Right VIN Engraving/Etching Tools or Machines?
As with many types of equipment out there, these VIN machines come in many specifications and models, making selecting the right one a bit tricky. There are some bad apples out there too so follow these guidelines to choose the right VIN engraving machine;
how deep do you want your markings to be done? Check whether the machine you buy can do the required depth as per your requirements. Sometimes you need to do paint after deep marking, then dot peen marker will be a good choice
The machine you choose should be able to create clear and legible markings that can last long, are easy to read, clean and scan, and difficult to erase without damaging the parts irreparably. So 30W or 20W fiber laser marker or dot peen engraver can suitable this term.
Do you want a machine that you can carry with into the vehicle? Some machines, such as laser engravers are heavy and big size, while others like portable dot peen marking machines are handheld design, easy to move.
Ease of use
Go for a machine that is easy to set up and handle. Some devices have clumsy moving parts, complicated software, and lead it can be hard to handle. Go for a machine that with easy use software, doesn’t need a lot of cables and components to be assembled for it to work
Does the machine have an User-friendly interface you use can to program it. Does it allow easy editing allowing you to input your VIN numbers quickly and can Auto increment? We recommend you could consider software ThorX6 for dot peen machine and software EZCAD for fiber laser machine.
Most Vin numbers are marked by dot pin marking machines. These VIN engraving machines are available as either electric or pneumatic in terms of the technology in use.
Pneumatic dot pin machines make use of compressed air to drive the machine while the electrical ones are either plugged into a power source or charged for operating.
Pneumatic tools can be cheaper to buy, but you will need air compressors to operate them.
You certainly don’t need to break the bank when buying a VIN etching machine.
Go for a machine that is affordable and can do several different engraving or etching jobs, so you don’t need to spend more money on other tools to complete a task. In China, Normally Portable Dot Peen Marking Engraver rough price USD 1000 ~ USD 3000, Fiber Laser Engraver rough price USD 3500 ~ USD 5000.
After sales service
You may need some help after you’ve purchased the machine.
Buy a VIN machine from a manufacturer that can guarantee rapid and always-on support in case something goes wrong, or you need some help to get something done.
Investing in a high-quality VIN engraving machine will always be worthwhile in the long run.
Whether you are a vehicle manufacturer doing mass VIN engraving in your plant or an individual looking to add VIN engraving to secure your vehicle or motorcycle, you can find high-quality VIN engraving machines to do the job.