Screen Printing / Silk Screening - Screen printing typically uses a fabric stretched tightly over a frame. Images are created by blocking parts of the screen using various techniques. Ink is forced through the open areas of the screen onto the surface of the object. A separate screen must be created for each color to be printed and colors must be applied in passes allowing drying time between each. This is the most common method of imprinting on promotional items and apparel such as T-shirts.
Embroidery - A design stitched onto a material through the use of high speed, computer controlled sewing machines. Artwork must first be "digitized," which is the specialized process of converting two-dimensional artwork into stitches or thread. The digitizer must actually recreate the artwork using stitches. Then it programs the sewing machine to sew a specific design, in a specific color, with a specific type of stitch. This is the process known as digitizing. Embroidery is most commonly used on logo patches, apparel and caps or hats.
4 Color Process Printing - Four-color process printing is a process in which we start with finished full-color artwork and separate out the three subtractive primary colors of yellow, cyan, magenta, plus black. A program creates separate films that are then printed with special process inks and the resulting print appears just like the original artwork. This is the same basic technology used in your home or office ink jet printer.
Offset Printing / Lithography - This process uses an intermediate blanket cylinder to transfer an image from the image carrier to the substrate. This technology is most common in high quality high volume printing production.
Sublimation - A printing method in which the color (toner or ink) is thermally converted to a gas that hardens on the special substrate used by the printer. When printers use this process, the output appears in the form of soft-edged dye spots that produce smooth, continuous tones. A newer process used on a wide variety of materials.
Engraving / Laser Engraving- The general term for incising lines directly into a metal plate or, in the case of wood engraving, an end grain block of hard wood. Laser engraving uses a laser to vaporize a preprogrammed pattern into the surface of the material.
Etching - A process in which an image is first covered with a protective coating that resists acid, then exposed, leaving bare metal and protected metal. The acid attacks only the exposed metal, leaving the image etched onto the surface.
Pad Printing - A recessed surface is covered with ink. The plate is then wiped clean, leaving ink in the recessed areas. A silicone pad is then pressed against the plate, pulling the ink out of the recesses, and pressing it directly onto the product.
Thermal Transfer - Thermal transfer is a technology that uses heat to deposit dye or resin onto a finished product. It works by using heat and pressure to transfer the ink off the ribbon and onto the substrate that it is in contact with.
Emboss / Deboss - Embossing impresses an image into the surface in relief creating a raised image. Debossing is just the opposite and creates an image pressed into the surface of an object.
Vector Graphics Files - Digital graphics format with which images are not saved in the form of individual pixels but rather in the form of line elements, defined by the starting and end point and the line width. Advantages compared to bitmap graphics include scalability without any loss of image quality and significantly reduced file sizes.
Graphics file formats which are (or may be) Vector based.
- AI - Adobe Illustrator
- PDF - Adobe
- EPS - Encapsulated Postscript File
- CDR - Corel Draw
Bitmap / Raster Graphics Files - Image content made up of pixels where the pixels contain the information for position, size, angular position and color and can be addressed individually. These formats are not recommended for promotional products production. In some cases high resolution (Absolute minimum of 300dpi or higher) images may be suitable for printing on some items.
Graphics file formats which are (or may be) bitmaps. It's always best to supply a vector format graphic file if available. If you are sending a bitmap file please make sure it is in one of these formats and is of a resolution of at least 300dpi. (600dpi is highly recommended)
- PDS - Adobe Photoshop
- EPS - Encapsulated Postscript File
- TIFF - Tagged Information File Format
- BMP - Windows Bitmap
*note that graphic images designed for the web are not suitable for use as artwork in Promotional Products Production. Web page graphics are typically created at 72 dpi. Check with your designer to see if high resolution versions are available.
Page Layout Documents - The font files and document preferences that need to be supplied for use when sending artwork with uncommon fonts which have not been converted to curves or other documents which must be converted by production ready artwork.
Halftone - An image produced by breaking the subject into small dots of varying intensities of gray ranging from white to black.
Bleeds - Printers cannot print right to the edge of a paper sheet. In order to have colors printed to the edge of a page the printer must use a sheet which is larger than the document size. Then the printer prints beyond the edge of the document size (typically an 1/8?) and then cuts the paper down to the correct size.
Promotional Products Industry Terms
Camera-Ready Artwork - Artwork that is black and white and has very clean, crisp lines that make it easy to scan and suitable for photographic reproduction.
Electronic Art - Any art supplied in a digital graphics file format whether provided on a CD-ROM, disc, sent via email, or uploaded online.
Color Match - If you need an exact color to be matched the factory will have to charge a minimal fee for blending the exact color specified. If you choose a standard imprint color this fee can be avoided.
Pantone Matching System - The industry standard for matching colors and communicating colors to achieve accurate color matches in printing. Each color has a coded number indicating instructions for mixing inks to achieve that color. We have an online PMS Color Chart as a guide in case you do not have access to a printed PMS Chart.
Paper Proof - A paper proof which is supplied to show you how the product will look before production begins. Paper proofs are usually provided on orders that are not rush orders in order to assure your satisfaction with the product layout and design.
Production Proof - An actual physical sample of the product imprinted to production standards and sent for approval before an order goes into production. This process has high costs due to the labor and setup costs involved, and having to slow production at the factory in order to make the sample. If you are producing a large order and are not under time constraints this may be worth doing to insure complete satisfaction with your design.
Setup Charges / Screen Charges / Plate Charges - These charges relate to manufacturer costs for labor and materials needed in order to transfer your logo to the printing method. A silk-screen requires a screen fee for each color used in your artwork and is needed to manufacturer you the screens you will need for printing your logo. Digitizing for embroidery requires that we make you a digitized tape so the stitching machine can recreate your logo on fabric. We will often keep your plate, screen, or mold on hand for a few years, this way you will not have to pay another setup charge for identical reorders.
Copy Change - A fee charged for changing the imprint copy on a product upon receipt of a proof approval or upon a reorder.
Production Time / Lead Time - The amount of time needed to produce and ship an order. This is based on the time to produce once an order has been received and final approval received. Most products with a one-color imprint usually ship within 10-15 working days. Custom products and those with multicolor imprints can require longer production time. Rush orders can be accommodated on some products at an additional charge.
Overruns/Underruns - Due to the nature of manufacturing, factories must account for possible defective items in production. It is the industry standard to overproduce on most products by around 2-5%. Paper and plastic bags can range from 10-25%. This is done to insure that you do not have to leave someone shorthanded during an event. Suppliers discard any production rejects but bill on the actual quantity shipped. This is standard industry practice for all suppliers.
Less Than Minimum - While we usually stick to the factory minimum order requirements it is sometimes possible to order smaller quantities. This is an additional charge to offset the relative costs of running smaller orders.
Personalization - As it sounds, imprinting an item with a person's name using one of any number of imprint methods.
Quantity Pricing - Most items offer discounts for orders at higher volumes. The pricing levels are clearly indicated on the site for most products. If your order is larger than the quantities displayed, just call us for a quote.