50 Years 1971
Welcome to 50 Years 1971, this is part five of Tennants UK's 50th anniversary newspaper front page mock-up with events from the year 1971
History of Number Plate Manufacturing
This week we want to present the history of UK number plate manufacturing. Take a look at their progression and see how Tennants UK have helped shape the way number plates look today.
The Motor Car Act of 1903 required all motor vehicles be entered on an official register and to display alphanumeric plates. Since then, the industry has constantly evolved, with methods of manufacture experiencing continuous progression.
When founded in 1967, Tennants began manufacture of number plates employing the then industry standard pressed metal system to create embossed letters for black on silver plates. However, with the dawn of reflective number plates, injection moulded plastic letters with an integral stud – purchased from Raleigh Industries – were simply hammered to a pre-drilled aluminium substrate, faced with 3M reflective. We imaginatively referred to these plates as “knock-ons”.
After the introduction of the first version of BSAU 145, reflectivity soon became obligatory in 1973 and it was at this time that we began employing screen printed transfers onto clear acrylic, backed up with reflective film – or alternatively, hot foil stamping rubberised characters (which was a quicker process than screen printing). It was at this time that the black on white (front) and black on yellow (rear) colour scheme replaced silver on black plates.
1975 saw acrylic become the standard substrate, effectively making metal plates obsolete in the industry, other than for use on classic cars and show plates (vehicles registered prior to 1974 are still able to legally display silver on black registrations). When the BNMA (British Number Plate Manufacturers Association) was established in 1990, Tennants were founding members, enabling us to monitor industry trends and ensure our products and processes continue to comply with all current regulations.
Between 1999 and 2002 we introduced our first Thermal printing system, producing monotone images onto reflective material via wax ribbons. With the issue of BS AU 145d in September 2001, the sole use of Charles Wright font was made mandatory on all legal plates, further defining the strict criteria within which all organisations manufacturing legal number plates have to operate.
Since the turn of the century, as well as ensuring our products remain strictly compliant to all required standards, Tennants have set the benchmark in pushing technical boundaries and new initiatives, most notably with the introduction of the first full colour laser film printing system in 2002.
LG Plates has revolutionised the UK’s number plate industry, allowing the user to print full colour side badges, logos, and coach lines on all standard plate sizes, and – by adding the optional LG Signs software – even produces show plates and a range of signs, including Health & Safety, statutory and bespoke items. Laser printed film applied to ABS plastic substrate is the easiest, best quality and most versatile way of producing number plates for the modern automotive market.
Tennants UK - Celebrating 50 Years
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