The art of making custom embroidered patches is decades old but, using new high speed, computerized machinery allows the once rare and time consuming art to be mass produced. The advanced technology allow practically any design to be created in thread on an embroidered patch. Some other advancements through modern machinery for patches include plastic backing to improve the stiffness and also prevents bunching or wrinkling of the design. The Institute of Heraldry designs patches that are certified and protected for and by the United States military. Military patches are full of metaphor, using colors and images to stand for many things.