Friday, July 21, 2017

Promotional Product Printing Methods - What are the differences?

There are many printing and decoration methods used to brand your logo or advertising design on promotional items. Depending on the product type and material involved, along with the artwork design to be printed, there can be several options used for the imprint method.

Here is a guide to assist you:

Screen Printing

Screen printing involves the production of a silk screen which has your design integrated as an opening in the screen. Ink is then applied as it is pressed or squeegeed through the screen and onto the product. Typically used on apparel such as T-shirts, towels, and caps & hats this print method is very efficient and has been in use for decades.

Pad Printing

The use of a silicone pad transfers your logo or design onto the product from a cliché which holds the ink needed for the imprint. Pad printing is used on 3 dimensional items that may have a shaped or textured surface. Some examples of pad printed promotional items are pens, golf balls, key tags and many others.

Hot Stamping

A metal die is created with your advertising design or text, which is used to apply pressure to a thin foil material. The die is heated to high temperature and the foil is passed between the die and the product. By applying pressure to the die, the image is transferred onto the product. The hot stamp method is known as a dry printing process, and has been perfected over time. Hot stamping is considered one of the most eco-friendly print methods used on promotional items. Used on vinyl, plastic and paper, some items include calendars, pre-printed brochures, and combs.

Dye Sublimation / Transfer

Dye sublimation requires that the product include a certain percentage of polyester within the material, or be covered in a polyester coating. During the printing process, special films are use to digitally print the design which is transferred onto paper. This is then applied with heat to the product, and during this time the inks are converted to vapor and then infused onto the product.
Dye sub can include high quality full color printing, and is typically used on apparel, bags, and coffee mugs.

Laser Engraving

Laser engraved items are etched with your logo or design via a high intensity laser beam. The design is digitally programmed into the laser resulting in a very accurate reproduction of even very fine detail. Some items that include an outer color such as the barrel of metal pens will have this outer color removed by the laser, leaving the exposed metal visible. 

Offset Printing

Of all available printing processes, offset has been in use longer than any other. This method employs the use of metal plates, each including the image of a required ink color to be mounted onto a cylinder of a printing press. The press plates are coated with water by rollers during the process , and then with ink in the same manner. Due to the fact that oil and water will separate and not mix, the only portions of the plates that carry the ink are the image design areas. This inked image is then reversed onto a rubber coated cylinder called a blanket, and then in turn applied to the paper stock as it fed through the press.
Offset printing can be used in single spot color, multiple spot color or full color process. Uses include calendars, contractor - commercial calendars, booklets, brochures, etc.

Digital Printing

Digital printing has become one the most widely used printing methods for promotional products, due to the elimination of the plating process required by offset printing. Digital full color printing, also referred to 4CP or full color digital process, can provide high resolution imagery on many types of substrate materials. Some examples include vinyl and nylon banners, corrugated plastic yard signs, notepads, and flexible refrigerator magnets.


Embroidery involves the use of complex machinery to stitch a digitized design onto fabric. The computer file directs each needle of the equipment to the precise location needed for the color of thread that it is delivering, and at very high speeds. Advances in embroidery styles and technology have grown recently to include 3 dimensional images and other effects. Caps, tote bags, backpacks, and apparel are just a few common examples of branding performed through embroidery.