Lucite Vs. Resin: The Differences Between These 2 Deal Toy Materials  

November 30, 2021 by David Parry
lucite vs resin

An especially critical factor in ordering a deal toy involves the choice of materials. Two materials that are often considered for deal toys are Lucite vs resin. Each material offers advantages, but they differ in several very important respects. This post will explain the two deal toy materials, and provide some guidance on which might be a better selection based on your design preference, budget, and timeline.

Companies celebrate milestones to bring recognition to the hard work that their employees put into a project. Deal toys represent a special category of these recognition gifts, ones that commemorate successful financial transactions. As with commemoratives generally, deal toys come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and designs, which usually vary according to the type of company and industry involved in the transaction.

Resin Materials for Deal Toys

Resin tends to be selected as a deal toy material far less often than other media like Lucite and crystal. But resin can be the ideal material given the right circumstances. First of all, what exactly is resin?

Resins are natural and synthetic materials that are flexible and durable. Resins can be cast into different shapes in liquid form using molds. Once the resin hardens using a catalyst, it is taken from the mold as the final shape.  There are many different types of casting resins that may be used, although thermoplastic acrylic and thermosetting plastics such as polyesters and epoxies are the most common.

What does all this mean for you in terms of resin as a potential choice for your deal toy?

Deal Toy Design Considerations in Choosing Resin

From a design perspective, resin can be a great choice for your deal toy if you’re considering a three-dimensional design that involves a lot of detail. A great example is the turtle piece below, a deal toy for which the client wanted a very custom, three-dimensional figure to be the centerpiece of the design.

Importantly, the turtle the client had in mind couldn’t just be some generic, pre-existing, off-the-shelf plastic or crystal piece. The client was very precise in its specifications, and as with many deal toys designs, these sprang from the transaction itself.

The underlying deal being commemorated involved senior living facilities; and the other aspect of the deal that the parties wanted to see commemorated in the deal toy—something that became a running joke—was the amount of time it took for the transaction to get done.

The design therefore required something that combined these two elements, with the result, including telling details like the turtle’s spectacles and cane, shown here.

But this isn’t the only kind of situation in which, from a design perspective, resin could be the logical choice. If, for instance, the turtle had been anything from a beloved company mascot to a media company prized cartoon character, that level of detail would need to be accurately captured.

Practical Considerations in Choosing Resin

As noted above, resin is an excellent choice of materials where something highly-specific, like a product, a company mascot etc., needs to be rendered very precisely and three-dimensionally.

But there are some trade-offs in delivery this highly custom-made result.

Capturing this kind of detail in resin requires the creation a very detailed mold.  This can be both time consuming and expensive. If there is a deadline or other time consideration involved in a given deal toy order, the month or so required just for the creation of the mold is going to pose a problem.

Similarly, expected quantities come into play here. If you anticpate ordering, say, 40 deal toys, incurring a $1,000+ set-up cost for the resin mold may make sense. After all, you can amortize the set-up cost over a relatively large quantity of pieces.

If, on the other hand, you only expect to order somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 deal toys, that large set-up cost effectively adds $100 per-piece.

A final consideration involves shipping and delivery. Resin pieces can be very susceptible to breakage. You therefore want to make sure that you don’t present resin pieces at some closing dinner or ceremony where recipients will open up individual gift boxes and then repack them hastily on their own. 

The far more sensible solution for a ceremony or closing dinner involving a resin deal toy is to have only one piece on-hand for display; the rest should be sent directly to the individual recipients at their home or office address. (See our post for additional tips for ordering closing dinner deal toys).

Lucite Materials for Deal Toys

While Lucite sounds like a material very different in kind, it is also considered a kind of resin. Specifically, Lucite is an acrylic, and more importantly here, a brand of acrylic known for its higher quality and durability.

Lucite has properties of both plastic and glass, as it can be entirely clear and translucent. It is cast in a mold like resin, with the option of adding color as well as embedments. To embed objects within Lucite, the mold is filled halfway and then allowed to gel. The embedment is placed into the mold before the rest of the liquid Lucite is added. The materials are then allowed to harden completely.

Some Advantages of Lucite

Compared with resin, Lucite offers a number of practical advantages. As mentioned above, objects can be embedded in Lucite, unlike resin; and these objects can include anything from a product to photograph to a pewter miniature. Lucite is also extremely malleable, and can be used to recreate an array of shapes.  Lucite therefore allows for a range of design possibilities, and also brings with it some very practical advantages as well.

Lucite designs tend to involve set-up costs considerably below those of resin. This, in turns, allows for some flexibility in the ordering process. Even making a relatively small design change in resin can necessitate a completely new mold, and can therefore incur entirely new set-up costs. The same design changes in Lucite can also cause you to re-incur set-up costs, but the financial impact is far less severe.

Lucite is also extremely durable, and much less subject to any breakage during shipping. A further advantage of Lucite involves timing. There are any number of factors that can affect the timing of a Lucite order, including the complexity of the design, the number of pieces being produced, whether a physical sample is being ordered, shipping times etc.

But the reality is that Lucite orders are typically measured in weeks and not, as in some resin order, months. In fact, a rush Lucite ordered could, again subject to certain factors, be turned around in about a week.

Lucite Vs Resin: Which to Pick?

There are a couple of factors that should also be considered in the choice of deal toy materials. It should be kept in mind, first of all, that resin and Lucite are by no means the only two materials to choose from.  Crystal is another extremely popular medium for deal toys. There is, for instance, an etching technique in crystal that would have captured three-dimensionally the same detail in the turtle design mentioned above without having to use resin. 

The other factor to bear in mind is that you don’t have to consider only one material for your deal toy. You might consider designs involving different media. The only overriding consideration in weighing and selecting among materials for your deal toy is whether that material makes sense for your specific situation, from both an aesthetic and practical perspective.

In other words, does the material you’re considering make sense given your time frame, your budget, and your design preferences?

This post was intended to help you in that decision. For additional insight and expertise, reach out to us at The Corporate Presence. We have over 40 years of experience guiding clients to the right deal toy material and design.