Printing techniques of promotional products

In the most cases the promotional product will have to be printed. What could you supply and how does this all work?
The files you would like to have be printed on the gifts have to be related on special formats when you will deliver them.
These are:
– Vector EPS
-Tiff, JPEG. The minimum resolution should be 600 dpi for line art (drawings), and 300 dpi for grayscale and halftone work (photo).
– PDF format (in highest quality) without compression. Designs delivered with a resolution of 72 dpi or less are not useful!
– The texts can often be simply imported by the supplier and “put”, meaning that the products need an email with your text and the products will do the rest.

The most used programs are:
– Adobe Illustrator
– Photoshop
– Quark Xpress
– InDesign
Don´t forget to supply the fonts of the design, or to convert the text to outlines.

A short description of the most common printing techniques:

Pad printing, a printing method in which nearly every under-ground and form can be printed. In a cliché (a metal plate) the design is fitted photographically. By the pad, a rubber image carrier, the design of the cliché is transferred / printed on the article. By using various forms pad is possible to print various forms. On most articles it is possible to print in one or more colors. Most plastic items from the catalog are printed by using the method of pad printing. For example, look at the logo on your mobile phone, in most cases this is done by pad printing.

Silkscreen printing, the design is applied to the mesh of a screen window. On the mesh is a light sensitive layer. A film, with and without illuminating parts, of the design is placed on the mesh and the whole is illuminated by UV light. The unexposed parts are washed from the mesh, this way the ink can proceed. The ink is pressed through the mesh and the article is located directly under the mesh, this way you get the printing on the article. Only flat surfaces can be printed with silkscreen. In most articles it is possible for one or more colours to print. Especially textiles and nylon products, such as umbrellas and bags are printed by screen printing. On t-shirts, and most other textile screen printing is used for your logo or text to make. Preferably in the case of 1-colored print.

Transfer printing, the design is printed on paper image carrier by screen printing which uses (heat) transfer press to print it on the product. In particular textile products and umbrellas, this technique is applied when multiple colors have to be printed. By using transfers it is also possible to print fine details on coarse textiles. Often the ink has a “flexible-maker” which takes care of that the printing does not fade or disappear after washing it.

Embroidery printing, this is a method where the logo will be embroidered at the article. Embroidery is used for textile, caps and bags. The price of embroidery depends on the stabbing number and size of the logo. The more wire is required the more expensive the embroidery on textiles. The color to use is determined by the yarn used. The maximum of colours is 15. An embroidery card is required to reproduce the image on the article. Solids or use of gold or silver thread are often more expensive in price.

Printing, this is a technique which directly puts the design on a flat surface. You should be familiar with the colours from your own printer. The 4 basic colours (CMYK) get mixed in the printer and they can give you every colour you require. For example on the ribbons of the Winnies and Wuppies the text is also printed. Also on the leaflets of the ponchos the text is printed. To print in full-colour is almost always possible and this also provides a perfect colour image. The printers we are using are not comparable to the printer you have at your home. You can print directly on fabric, paper and large canvases like flags. These days you see a lot of canvases used, the designs on the canvas is also printed with a large printer called “plotter”.

Laser engraving, is a method by which the design is burned into the metal. The laser beam is controlled by a computer. This makes the design appear very fine. Laser engraving is not available in multiple colours. The colour is determined by the colour of the metal or the layer that lies below the finish. The form is as it were burned into the material, so the underlying layer is visible, which also determines the color of the visible part. In many cases the color is visible, gray or copper.

Embossing, (Prägen), by making the use of a cliché the design is pressed into the article. Embossing is mainly applied to leather items. Embossing is not possible in colour. Not all leather items are suitable. Photo copy printing, is a process where the logo is printed on paper and then is cut to the appropriate size. This technique is only used for items that have sort of a “window” where the paper can be engaged or can be put under (usually some key chains or other items in case).

Digital printing, A sticker is provided with a 2-component resin layer (epoxy). The epoxy layer is very clear so the underneath of the picture is not only protected, but even slightly “enlarged”. This resin layer gives the product an extra dimension and it also makes sure that the printing is scratch resistant and the quality of the colours stays good. The sticker is always printed in full colour, so there are no PMS colours, but there is a very an colored logo with a fantastic atmosphere. We see a lot of digital printing on USB sticks and more expensive electric luxury items.

Facts about printing techniques;
– Printing colours could differ by the colour of the underlying product, sometimes it’s an optical illusion, sometimes the underlying colour is shining through a bit. For example, a black lighter with a yellow printing provides an ocher-yellow effect. (Unless the printing is printed twice.)
– In determining a printing colour, the ink is mixed and is a Pantone guide used to indicate the exact PMS colour.
– The adhesion of the ink on the metal products is not always good, sometimes it needs some time to get harder, sometimes the ink and metal don´t like each other and they push each other off. Laser engraving is the best alternative in that case.
– After printing metal products, they should have at least 3 days to dry before they can be sent, and then have 8 days to dry for a good scratch resistance.
– The coverage of the color on coarser textiles is not 100%. Transfer is preferred in that case, because that is first printed on a flat surface and is applied later. (See transfer printing).
– Round products have a reduced surface to print on, this could lead to a distortion in the logo as result. To get a successful pad printing, you need a smooth and flat surface to print on.

On some caps it is not possible to print on the forehead, this is because of the seam. Embroidery or transfer is a good alternative then. The best thing you could do is to consult your seller or the printing adviser about the best option.

In general;
Printing on gifts and promotional items is not as simple as making a copy at your office, it is professional work done by professionals. Often it is important to talk to your advisor and to show your logo to the printing man who will execute your order, this is his/her skill. And don´t forget to make adjustments to get an optimal outcome.

In almost all cases you will receive a proof for approval, after the printer has seen the artwork and the products.
A good printing proof includes at least:
– the supply number.
– The colour of the imprint (pms number).
– Position of the imprint.
– The exact shape of the imprint.
– Any instructions and / or expected changes.
A printing proof is a digital image of your contract which will be executed after you gave your agreement.
In many cases, a rapid response from the client is essential for the rapid implementation of the order.

Contribution of Steph Weigert from the company Zintuig Media :

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