SIC 3953

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing stencils for use in painting or marking; or the production of steel letters and figures, rubber and metal hand-stamps, dies, and seals. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing felt tip markers are covered in SIC 3951: Pens, Mechanical Pencils, and Parts.

NAICS Code(s)

339943 (Marking Device Manufacturing)

In 2001, there were 535 firms operating 551 establishments in this industry. The leader was Shachihata Incorporated USA of Torrance, California, with sales of $700 million and 900 employees. In second place was Weber Marking Systems Inc. of Arlington Heights, Illinois, with $125 million in sales and 700 employees. Rounding out the top three overall leaders was Roseville, New Jersey-based Pamarco Technologies Inc., with sales of $100 million and 700 employees. In the segment of the industry devoted to permanent markers, Sharpie held 50 percent of the market.

According to the Annual Survey of Manufactures , there were 6,859 employees in the marking device manufacturing industry in 2001, 4,509 of whom worked in production. Total payroll for that year was just short of $190 million, and the total value of shipments was more than $661 million. These numbers all represented a slight decline from the previous year.

The design for several of the devices in this category date from antiquity and have changed very little over the centuries, even though technological innovations have made a key difference in some cases. The introduction of the mass-production automobile assembly line, for instance, led to notable advances in die-casting technology and to the very precise formation of even the tiniest metal parts.

The introduction of stenciling has been dated to eighth century China, and this technique of reproducing designs has long been deemed well-suited for metal or cardboard cuts to produce simple shapes. Only with the introduction of silk-screen printing, however, was it possible to overcome the inherent limitations of stencils' great simplicity. The stencil, for instance, does not permit the reproduction of one design enclosing another (as in the case of a figure eight), unless it is halved to prevent the necessarily unattached central sections from dropping out. The fine meshes used in silk screen printing were substantial enough to support the unattached elements of a stencil, without posing a barrier to the passage of the dye or paint being forced through a water-soluble glue into the desired design. A variant to this blockout-stencil or glue-cut-out-stencil method was the film-stencil method, whereby designs were cut into a colored lacquer laminated to a sheet of glassine paper, so that the whole assemblage could be mounted on a screen before the removal of the uncut paper backing and subsequent printing.

As a consequence of the move in the 2000s toward increasing electronic, digital, and automated technology, the marking device industry was affected by the radio frequency identification (RFID) trend in "smart labeling." Wal-Mart gave its top suppliers a deadline of January 2005 by which they had to employ RFID tags. The United States Department of Defense also was on board with the technology, with many companies and sectors soon to follow. Aiding companies in the move toward RFID compliance in 2004 was expected to assure the industry's growth. The EPA also expected compliance for new standards in its Treated Wood Initiative and new requirements for the labeling of CCA-treated wood, which provided companies in this industry with readymade markets in the mid-2000s.

The technological advances made by computers transformed many features of office life in the United States at the end of the twentieth century, including the use of certain numbering and lettering devices. Even though the modern office had no use for certain types of marking devices, such age-old implements as hand presses, stamps, and seals, however, were still widely used as a means of officially marking paperwork of various sorts. Indeed, the increasing automation of offices gave a new lease on life to such marking devices. Highly sophisticated photocopying machines, for instance, reproduced documents with such great accuracy that forgeries were easily made in the absence of a physical impression left by the impact of a notary public'sor government official's seal, for example.

Further Reading

Baker, Deborah J., ed. Ward's Business Directory of US Private and Public Companies. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2003.

Lazich, Robert S., ed. Market Share Reporter. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2004.

Rothman, Raymond C. Notary Public Practices & Glossary. Woodland Hills, CA: National Notary Association, 1978.

Seals and Other Devices in Use at the Government Printing Office. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, n.d.

U.S. Census Bureau. Statistics of U.S. Businesses: 2001. 1 March 2004. Available from .

U.S. Department of Commerce. Annual Survey of Manufactures. Washington: GPO, 2002.

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic and Employment Projections. 11 February 2004. Available from .

"Weber Initiates Efforts to Provide RFID Technology to Its Customers," 7 March 2004. Available from .

"Weber Pressure-Treated Wood Labeling Solutions," 7 March 2004. Available from .

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