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License Plate Frames -- Design

Hi all, I’m working on a project to design really nice license plate frames so I thought it’d be nice to get some input from our community.

Currently, people don’t put too much effort in designing frames, so most cars end up with cheap-looking, plastic frames that easily wear out. My goal is to make them durable and sexy, definitely worthy of your expensive toys. There are two styles I’m interested in making right now: (1) CNC billet aluminum and (2) stainless steel painted/coated with shiny retro colors (like Smeg '50s retro fridges). Ideally, I want the design to be general enough to suit any car but have enough variety for distinct personal preferences (e.g., metal/stealth, smooth/edgeless, classic/minimalistic, etc.).

My questions are as follows:

  1. Do you feel or think that license plate frames need a major upgrade, or at least more attention?
  2. What kind of materials/styles do you think will be desirable? It doesn’t have to be from the list above, as any suggestions are welcome.
  3. How much are you willing to pay for that upgraded frame? (Cost per frame so for a car, you’ll need two frames)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

First I have a question. Decent license plate frames, even when mass produced are way too expensive for what they are. So how do you propose to manufacture limited quantities of of higher quality frames at a competitive price. Or are these going to be artsy fartsy :art: “designer” frames, for the , more dollars than sense crowd?.

The existing frames work just fine, why would I pay money to buy something different?

edit: I mean the existing attachment system, with no frame, works fine, doesn’t obscure any of the plate.

Mostly, yes, but there is a certain percentage of license plate frames that are so badly-designed that they obscure the name of the state that is embossed on the border of the plate. While it probably doesn’t happen very often, a cop can ticket a driver for having an “obscured” plate because he is using an oversized, badly-designed frame on his license plate.

Why is a license plate frame necessary?

  1. No, what’s available now is pretty good, for the kind you buy rather than get for free from some car dealer.
  2. I can already buy nice, simple, attractive, frames in polished stainless, anodized or power coated aluminium or plastic as well as those with silly sayings or my car brand and model logo.
  3. They are available from Amazon for $12 a pair (but I don’t need 2 frames - one plate state) for stainless or aluminum with free shipping and comparable prices from AliExpress.

I think we’ve pretty much perfected the license plate frame for those inclined to actually use one…

Well, obviously, they aren’t necessary, but some folks seem to like them.
For that matter, LED lighting underneath cars is also very far from anything of a necessary nature, but some folks like that type of affectation.
To each his own, I guess…

$0. Sorry, but this is a car-people forum. A lot of us find license plates, especially those on the front, to be an ugly nuisance that gets in the way of the good looks of our cars. We’re not going to draw attention to the thing by dolling it up with art.

That’s not to say there isn’t a potential market for what you want to make - but it’s more likely to be found amongst the Etsy crowd than us.

I’d also adjust your pitch to sound less “as seen on TV.” Cheap looking plastic frames don’t easily wear out because there aren’t any moving parts or load-bearing areas to be stressed. On my cars, cheap plastic frames last all the way until the state sends me new plates instead of just stickers, at which point they go in the trash. I’ve never heard of a catastrophic license plate frame failure due to material fatigue. :wink:

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  1. No.
  2. Those currently in use evolved to what they are based on what people were willing to buy. Does your design offer any advantages? If not, you’ll be selling to a very niche, very small market. You should isolate your market research to them.
  3. For an upgrade? Nothing. I buy mine for $1 each at Dollar Tree and replace them every few years when the fake chrome wears off the plastic. Can you beat that?

Having said all that, people have become millionaires targeting niche markets. I haven’t. If you want to know how to become a millionaire targeting a niche market, don’t ask me… ask someone who has succeeded in doing what you want to so.

Best material? I’m sure lots of kids out there will pay a premium price for carbon fiber license plate frames. If the idea succeeds, do I get a commission?


$50 for real carbon fiber;

$25 for simulated carbon fiber at Wally World

How–exactly–do those frames “wear out”? :confused:

Nor have I!
Yes, if somebody backs into your front bumper really hard, then it is very likely that a license plate frame will be damaged, but that specific type of damage would be the least of my worries in that situation. And, in an era when more and more of us rarely park on the street, that type of damage is much less frequent than it was years ago.

LOL, and yet I’m sure there are kids that waste $25 on these!

To the OP I would suggest you think about the minimal impact of the design and the maximum impact of the marketing. People make millions selling absolute junk on infomercials. I won’t mention any specifics, but I’m sure you’re familiar with their products.

There’s a concept taught in marketing classes called “product differentiation”. It simply means to find a way to make the buying public believe that your product has something different/better than your competitors. Frank Perdue did it with chickens. There’s a fella right now doing it with pillows. THAT is IMHO what you should focus on; marketing!

I don’t use frames now, but I’d consider them if I could get a minimalist design that’s color-matched to my factory paint. (I’d rather not draw extra attention to that area with chrome.)

Make sure to use good stainless steel screws. It’s a pet peeve of mine when I see an otherwise-nice car driving around with rusty streaks down the plate because the owner can’t be bothered to spend a dollar or so on new screws.

You should consider having not only a frame around the edge but also a solid metal support in the back so that the plate lies perfectly flat and so that it’s less likely to be dented if some idiot backs into you while parallel parking. I guess that would call for a two-piece design with longer screws than the originals.

As already mentioned, you need to make sure you don’t obscure any lettering on the plate, including the state name, so you probably need to obtain and examine the layout of plates in every state.

It seems to me the real function of a license plate frame is to advertise for the dealer where the car was purchased, or where the owner went to college.
The dealer where I bought my last vehicle put the plate in cheap plastic frame. It broke a couple of years later when I was putting on a new license plate, so I threw the frame away.
I remember the Tennessee license plates back in the early 1950s. The plate was in the shape of the state and no frame would fit the license plate.

I need a license plate frame like I need tap-dance lessons. Do you know which type of frame looks best?
None. Know why? Frames are stupid.

Whenever I get a new(er) car I always go directly to the stainless steel fastener section of a hardware store and but S.S screws for the license plate. I put the plate on and Voila!

But, f you want to sell license plate frames, or anything, make it “green” or “healthy” (I hate that improper use of the word. It should be “healthful.”)

Make the frame out of anything recycled, neck-ties, Girl Scout Cookies boxes, beer cans, old tires, etcetera…

Or… make them gluten-free and low in calories and trans fat, and put in a little salmon and kale.

You could also resort to that “shaming” thing. Just have some of the purchase price go to save some kind of endangered animals or starving people or out of work celebrities.

Voila! You’ve got yourself a winner! :wink:


Only thing I would add to is to include the line- no animals were harmed in the fabrication of this frame…

Huh? I’d say the opposite. More and more are parking on the street. Cities are getting more crowded, parking spots are very costly.

I park on the street in Boston, in a residence spot, and there are about 5 cars with residence stickers for every spot. Which leads to tight parking, and driving around the block many times.

Yes, cities are getting more crowded, but urban young adults are the folks who are LEAST likely to actually own a car. Uber, Lyft, taxis, or car rentals are often the only car-based transportation for those younger folks. Yes, street parking is at a premium in cities, but it would be even more scarce if the younger urban folks were still car-oriented.

Those of us who live in rural or suburban environments park in our own driveways or garages, and when we go to shop, or to dine, or to visit a museum or a park, we can almost always avail ourselves of a space in a parking lot. Years ago, I was an ace when it came to parallel parking. Nowadays, on the rare occasions when I have to park on the street, my skills are nowhere near as good as they were years ago when I had to do parallel parking on a regular basis.

Good point. I am good at parallel parking, fitting into spaces with inches of clearance… Before the advent of rear view cameras, I used the park by the well known sound method: back up till you hear your bumper hit the car behind, them crank the wheel and go forward till you hear your bumper hit the car in front, etc. After all, they are called “bumpers” for a reason.

But even without that method, I still wind up with lots of scratches and dents on my bumpers…

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Yes, they need a super major upgrade. Been the same for the last 100 years

Gold plated comes to mind

Not more than $1000. What if my state does not require a front plate? Do I still have to purchase 2?

On second thought…forget it. I like my cheap plastic frames just fine.