Plantfacts has been engraving legends on switches and fused spurs for more than two decades and in that time, we have lost count of how many ‘washing machine’ or ‘cooker’ we have paint filled.

The words we have been asked to engrave have changed slowly over time, perhaps reflecting social mobility and what is now normal, even for the most humble abode. We no longer raise an eyebrow at the popularity of ‘dishwasher’ and even the advent of more than one ‘oven’ per household.

But this last month we have witnessed the latest social change, as we have been required to engrave ‘car charger’ on a number of different fused spurs.

There is no doubting the rise in popularity of the electric vehicle and if we witness a similar increase in engraving as witnessed with ‘dishwasher’, there really will have been a revolution on the country’s driveways.

White plastic steps asidecrabtree 4827/3 13 amp fused spur

In the past our most traditional electrical item to engrave has been the ubiquitous Crabtree 4827/3. It is a 13-amp switched and fused spur, with a knock out position in the bottom edge and a neon lamp.

It’s perfect for engraving, with a nice, large flat area at the bottom of the face – perfect for our big legible all caps legends.

In recent months however, we have had to cope with a far greater variety of switches and spurs, from the likes of Click, Schneider, MK, etc., each with its own challenges. Most of which make life harder for our engravers, not easier. Progress.

There are those with moulded letters on the front where we need to engrave; curved bottom edges; porous fronts; no room left for legends and some cheap enough that the switches vary in size by as much as 1-2mm. Once the jigs are set this is really frustrating.

brushed steel switch plate

But now it’s all about metal. As fashion spreads even to the switches in the kitchen, bathroom and utility, we are faced with myriad metal finishes that need legends applied.

Unfortunately, no single switch has the dominant position the 4827/3 occupies and so each delivery of switches to our workshop in Sutton Coldfield is a voyage of discovery. We even have switches with different finished for the same property, with satin chrome downstairs and polished in the bathrooms.

It’s not a problem and something we are experienced enough to take in our stride, but those with a lacquered finish have to be engraved once to get to the metal underneath, which we can then black as required. It all adds to the time and effort needed, but at least the lettering is a good size.

Less isn’t always more

small rocker switchSmall switches also appear to be gaining popularity, perhaps driven by a reduction in the size of the average new-build home. We are now coping with architrave switches, rocker switches and grid switches, all of which need engraving with appropriate legends; but a lot smaller.

Therein lies the problem. We are still expected to engrave ‘mirror light’ or something similar, on a switch only 12-13 mm wide, whilst making it clear, legible and above all, durable.

It’s a problem solved by the accuracy of our lasers and the patience of our team, but next time you’re designing a new house, please think 4827/3 – not so pretty, but fewer sleepless nights for us engravers.