State cites security in keeping embossed plates
By Rick Wills
Published: Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:39 p.m.
Pennsylvania is sticking with raised-number license plates as other states switch to flatter digitized ones, which some say are easier to read and cheaper to produce.
“We plan on keeping embossed plates, mainly because of security,” said Jan McKnight, community relations coordinator for PennDOT in Harrisburg.
Numbers on embossed license plates are raised, which McKnight said are difficult to replicate or counterfeit.
These plates go through two print runs, one to print the background graphics and one to stamp and paint the plate numbers.
With digitized plates, all items on the plate can be printed simultaneously in a process comparable to printing from a computer.
PennDOT uses digital technology on specialty license plates to create backgrounds featuring wildlife, a historic event or the name of a college or university.
“Those images are done with digital technology. The numbers on the license plates are always embossed,” McKnight said.
Ohio has digitized plates. West Virginia plans to make all its plates digitized by the end of this year.
“This is the way license plates are going to be made in the future,” said Steve Dale, acting commissioner at the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
“The new process allows us to use a thinner aluminum blank, which cuts the cost of aluminum, slightly less weight to mail, and allows more plates to be stored in the same amount of space,” Dale said.
Dale said West Virginia expects to save about $600,000 a year with the switch.
Switching to digitized plates eliminates the need for special paints and solvents, which must be disposed of as hazardous waste, and for ovens that “bake” the paints onto the plate.
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, based in Arlington, Va., makes no recommendation about which technology to use.
“It's more labor intensive to make embossed plates. Law enforcement wants to be able to read the plate, and it's important that the graphic does not distort the plate numbers,” said Catherine Curtis, director of vehicle programs for the association.
While West Virginia officials say digitized plates are easier to read, not everyone agrees.
“The biggest problem with reading a plate is if the graphics behind the number and letters are too busy. That can be a problem with either type of plate,” said Mike Rodli, president of John R. Wald Company Inc. in Huntingdon in Huntingdon County, one of a handful of companies in the United States that manufactures machinery to make embossed and digital plates.
Pennsylvania license plates are made at SCI Fayette, the only prison in the state where license plates are manufactured.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers coach Tomlin fined $100K by NFL
- 3 accomplices plead guilty to murder, torture of mentally challenged Mt. Pleasant woman
- Pirates’ Snider talks about surgery, rebuilding swing
- Schmotzer resigns high-paid administrative job with Baldwin-Whitehall schools
- Starkey: Tomlin imposter fuels conspiracy theories
- Cost of doing business increasing for Pirates
- Donald wins ACC Defensive Player of Year
- Reporter want ad: Did your health insurer cancel your plan?
- Former Guardsman apparently settles lawsuit against Target
- Penguins’ Crosby nets game-winner in overtime
- ‘Taffeta Christmas’ offers plenty of holiday cheer