PVC patches, made of polyvinyl chloride, are arguably the most popular type of airsoft patch at the moment. They’re rugged, durable, and unlikely to wear or fade.
To manufacture PVC patches, first a vector design is converted to a physical mould by carving a piece of metal with a perfect indentation of the desired design. This mould will have to feature all elements of the patch, including any “3D” effects, by altering the depth of the indentation.
Warm PVC material is then injected into each section of the mould, one colour at a time, with a little bit of time given between each colour to allow it to dry. The order the PVC is injected depends on the depth and design of the patch, so any text which visibly pops out will be injected first and the overall back colour will be injected last. Eventually, the whole mould is filled and the patch is peeled from the mould.
Once the patch has cooled completely, hook velcro is glued and/or stitched to the patch. The mould process will often allow an area around the edge of the patch for stitching.
All of the above processes can either be done using a machine or by hand.
Woven patches are the original patch. These are synonymous with military and emergency services around the world and in more modern times have produced some fantastic airsoft patches.
Woven patches are made by first digitising a design in to a format easily readable by an embroidery machine. Modern embroidery machines are made up of many heads (colours) which stitch each part of the patch separately to make up the finished design of the patch. The stitches are made on a material which is then overlocked around the edges to create a robust finished patch.
Various materials can be stitched in to the patch during the manufacturing process to give the patch stiffness and hook velcro or iron-on material is often stitched to the back of the patch for application.
More to follow…