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A guide to imprinting your promotional products

There are many techniques for transfering images and words onto our products. Follow the guide below to learn about the various ways to create promotional items custom-decorated with your logo. If you have a question, don't hesitate to give us a call at 1.888.842.9056.

Keep in mind that each technique works best for certain kinds of products — for example, screen printing works for textiles, but not for ceramic or metal items. If you have any questions, we would be happy to help you match technique and product to achieve the look you want.

Screen Printing/ Silk-Screening: an ink image on paper or textiles

First your image is turned into a film positive. The film positive is "developed" onto light-sensitive emulsion spread on a screen—when exposed to light, the emulsion covered by the dark parts of the image stays soft, and is easily washed away creating a negative of the image. Ink is pressed through the emulsion negative, transferring your image to a paper or cloth surface. This is the classic way to create promotional t-shirts.

Multi-colored images require multiple screens, and the colors are printed one at a time (see terms for more information).

Embroidery: stitching on textiles

Your artwork is digitized using a special program that converts the image into patterns of stitches. The program directs a specialized embroidery sewing machine to stitch the pattern using stitch sizes, shapes, and colors that will recreate your image, custom applied to the textile of your choice. Promotional hats may be silk-screened or embroidered, depending on the effect you want.

Deboss: a depressed image in paper, leather, or plastic

A custom metal die (see terms) is created from your image. The die is pressed into the material’s surface, creating a lowered imprint. It is a imprinted stamp of your image usually without ink.

Emboss: a raised image in paper, plastic, or leather sheets

A custom die is made for your image, and pressed into a material’s surface from below, creating a raised image. An embossed image may be inked or not, for various effects.

Hot Stamp: heated debossing

A custom die of your image is heated and pressed into the printing surface. This allows debossing to be done in harder materials, such as metals.

Etching: printing from a custom metal plate

A metal plate is covered with an acid-resistant material in the pattern of your image. Then the plate is immersed in an acid bath, eating away unprotected metal and leaving your image etched onto the plate. Ink is applied to the plate to produce custom prints of your image onto metal, glass, or film.

Laser or Foil Stamp: metallic printing, usually debossed

Using the same method as basic letterpress printing, using foil in place of ink and applied with heat. From a custom die, your image is stamped into vinyl, leather, or paper surfaces. Many colors of foil can be used for various effects.

Die-casting: molds

Molten metal is injected into a carved die, creating the finished product.

Die-striking: image pressed into metal

A craftsman renders your design in a soft piece of metal that is then hardened, producing a custom die. The die is used to strike your design into a softer metal, usually brass. This process creates a classic, high quality finish, perfect for very special custom items.

Color fill: highlighting an engraved or etched area

Once your image is printed, engraved, or etched, a color fill can be used to highlight areas of the image.

Pad Printing: perfect for printing onto plastic

Your image is photo-etched onto a plate. The image is inked, and then lifted onto a silicone pad that transfers the ink onto the desired product. The pad can wrap itself around small objects, into any nooks and crannies, and gives excellent ink coverage. Four-color printing is possible. This is an excellent technique for customizing plastic items; a simple way to mass-produce your promotional products.

Laser Engraving: cut away images or text

A custom template is made from your image or lettering. Lasers directed through openings in the template make clean cuts through a sheet of paper, metal, or plastic, actually evaporating it. The result is a stylish, custom cut out of your message or logo.

Sublimation: permanent images on porous products

Your message, graphic, or photograph is imprinted using heat-activated dyes. The dye is permanently embedded into the material, absorbed into the pores of the fabric or other material, rather than sitting on top. Used for mouse pads, mugs, T-shirts, caps, and trophies.

Offset Printing: high quality ink printing

From a custom-made metal plate, the ink is transferred to a "blanket" or rubber-covered cylinder before being pressed to paper. This is a technique for high quality printings of more complex images.

Decal: custom stickers
A custom label on special, transparent paper is created from your image, then applied to the product.



A tool of very hard material, usually metal, created in a special shape to do a specific job of cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing or debossing into softer material.


Producing a die by injecting molten metal into a regular mold or custom-created cavity.

4-color Process

A color separation of your image. Filters and screens are used to separate a color image into the four color values used in printing—cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow, and black. A custom printing plate is made for each color and they are printed one at a time, with drying time in between if necessary.

Give us a call now to get started creating unique, custom-made gifts that will enhance your corporate or organization's image.

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