The general rule of thumb in the imprinting process of various imprintable items is that the finished product will only look as good as the artwork that is provided to us. We make a best effort to improve bad artwork but it is much easier when we are provided with true camera-ready artwork. Most artwork can be increased or decreased in size from the camera-ready artwork when it is necessary.
All electronic art is required in Vector format in Adobe Illustrator V 9.0 or less (no PDF files) or Corel Draw V10 or less. All files should have all text converted to curves or outlines.
Promotional products factories can not and will not accept Word document files, Power Point files or Publisher files. Also they can not use .bmp, .gif or .pdf files.
If hard copy is to be submitted the color must be separated with registration marks and output as a minimum 600 dpi on high quality photo paper, clear film or velum.
In most cases we can match a requested Pantone Matching System (PMS) requested color if so desired. However, one must remember that in printing various colors on a background other than white will not result in the finished product being the exact same color as the originally requested PMS color. Special inks may have to be mixed for an exact color match resulting in extra charges.
When time permits we prefer to obtain either a paper proof or an actual pre-production sample of the product to make sure that the imprint, colors and placement are correct for our customers finished products.
COLOR SEPARATION: The breakdown of full-color copy into the primary color plates (magenta, cyan, yellow and black), so when it is printed in register, they produce a full-color illustration.
DIE: This is the tool that is used to print the actual image on to the product. Depending on the nature of the finished product the die may be made of rubber or metal.
REGISTRATION: This is the correct alignment of color and other components of an imprint with each other and of an imprint to each respective color and to the position that is printed on the requested product.
CLOISSONE: This is a process used primarily in the processing of jewelry lapel pins, etc. Metal emblems are stamped from a die, a colored paste made from ground glass is applied into the recessed areas, it is then fired at 1400 degrees and then polished by stone and pumice to achieve the high brillant colors. In this process, gullies and ridges separate each individual color, therefore lines between colors are difficult to achieve. This process results in a very high quality product but is significantly more costly than other alternatives.
CLOISART: The desired copy is foil hot stamped on a solid brass or metal base, then covered by an epoxy dome. This process is used mainly in lapel pins and emblems. There are fewer limitations with this process compared with cloisonne because it is a hot stamp procedure. This process isa cloisonne look-alike process with a fraction of the cost to complete the finished product. It is not as of high quality as that of cloisonne.
DECAL TRANSFER: A decal is printed on an offset or letterset press and then submerged in water and slid onto the product to be imprinted. The decal is rubbed with a cloth or squeegee to remove any excess water and air from between the product and the decal. The product is kiln fired at temperatures up to 1300 degrees depending on the product. Once fired, the decal becomes fused with the glaze. The decal transfer method is used oprimarily on glass and ceramics. With this process hairline registration is possible for very complex multi-color imprints. This imprint withstands washing very well.
DIE-CASTING: Molten metal is injected into the cavity of a carved die. In the case where a double-sided impression is necessary, two dies are placed together, carved sides facing the inside, and the molten metal is injected between them. This process is used mainly on jewelry, lapel pins, and belt buckles. Very fine detail is possible using this process.
DIE-STRUCK(Die Stamp): A die is used to press an image into a softer metal such as brass or gold. The die is put into a press, and the press is released and actually squeezes the metal into the recess of the die, making the imprint on the metal. Coins, medals and belt buckles are the main items that this process is used on. With this process the height of detail is not as deep as casting, the letters and images are shorter. Fine detail and deep images cannot be achieved because the lines and gullies in the die may break during the striking process.
EMBOSSING-DEBOSSING: A brass die and counter die are used to emboss paper products. The die male die) will push through the paper until it hits the counter die (female die) on the other side of the paper. Calendars are normally printed via this method. Very rigid paper may be prone to cracking or breakage during the embossing process. The thicker the paper, the more pressure the press must exert which produces the cracks or breaks in the paper.
EMBROIDERY: A computerized system reads the image to be embroidered and produces a computerized tape. This tape is then fed into a computer which instructs the embroidery machine to create and lay down the designs and colors in the pattern. Caps, bags, emblems and various other types of items are embroidered. Pricing on embroidery is based on the quantity of the item along with the size, amount of colors and the number of stitches involved in the embroidery work.
ENGRAVING: There are three basic types of engraving techniques. The first is that of hand engraving. The second being hand tracing and the thirs is computerized engraving. Engraving is performed with a diamond point or rotary blade that cuts into the surface of the product. Products that are engraved include metals, trophies, pens and name plates. Engraving offers a permenent imprint which will not wear off because it cuts away at the metal base of the product.
ETCHED: Acis is applied to a metal plate, and it eats away the unwanted metal, which creates a slight recess in the shape of the design. That recess is filled with various colors of enamel. Metals and glassware are the main products that etching is used on. Etching gives very fine detail, because there is no stamping process involved.
FLEXOGRAPHY: A flexible rubber plate is wrapped around a cylinder for speed and control. As the paper moves under the printing plate it is pressed against the printing plate by another roller, and the ink is transferred onto the paper. A separate plate is needed for each individual color. Paper products such as napkins, cups, etc. are printed via the flexography process. Typically done on less expensive materials then screen printing. The inks are very thin and not as durable as those in screen printing:
HOLOGRAMS: A combination of several layers of refracted material. A part of the image is applied to each individual layer in a 'sandwiching" process. Once the sandwich is complete, the whole image comes through and moves with the light. Holograms are primarily used on wearables and various paper products. A unique 3-D effect is the end result of a hologram. There are hologram proces's that enable wearables with holograms to be washed without losing the hologram effect.
HOT STAMPING (Foil Stamping): Three factors contribute to hot stamping: heat, pressure and dwell (timing). A raised-surface plate is heated (the temperature is regulated according to the product being stamped, and the foil being used). The plate will push a piece of foil onto the surface of the material to be imprinted, leaving a foil image of the prepared art work. A separte plate is required for each color. Blind stamping involves the same process but no foil is used. Paper, Plastic, Leather, Vinyl, Metals and Wearables are the main items that use the hot stamping process. Foil color choices, in most cases, may be rather limited. since foils can't be mixed like inks can. Fine lines and details may be lost when imprinting on grainy, coarse leather or vinyl products. Foil-stamped imprints have a tendency to wear off; however, some suppliers special-treat their products to increase the longevity of the imprint and to prevent smudging and water damage.
LASER ENGRAVING: A computer-controlled laser beam burns the desired image into a wooden base. Wood items are laser-engraved. The laser is computer controlled and allows an exact reproduction of the artwork without the bars or stencil cuts in the lettering. Some manufacturer are experimenting with different products and surfaces to engrave.
LETTER PRESS: A hard, raised-surface plate is wrapped around a cylinder. The printing plate rollsagainst an ink roller, then rolls directly onto the paper that is to be printed. Each separate color requires its own printing plate. With this process,very fine detail, screens, and halftones are difficult to pick upon letter press. Wet offset picks up these details and halftones better than dry offset or letter press.
LITHOGRAPHY (Offset): A raised-metal plate is attached to a cylinder. This cylinder rotates, first making contact with the dampening roller which wets the plate so that the non-printing areas will repel ink. The cylinder then rotates and contacts the inking roller. The inked plate is then transferred to a rubber blanket, and paper is printed as it contacts the rubber blanket. The plate actually never contacts the paper surface. Paper Products are the main items to use the lithography process as the rubber-printing surface conforms to irregular printing surfaces, so this process requires less pressure. The results mean an improved imprint and good quality halftones.
PAD PRINTING: A recessed surface plate is covered with ink. The plate is wiped clean, yet the ink remains in the recessed area of the plate. A silicone pad presses against the plate and pulls the ink out of the recesses. The pad then moves and presses directly against the product. Pad printing is used primarily on plastics, paper, ceramics, glassware, wearables, leather, and vinyl products. Pad printing is excellent for imprinting small, unusually shaped objects that screen printingis not practical for. Small watch dials and cylinder shapes are some examples of this process. Pad printing is not suggested for printing large areas as screen printing is better for large areas of ink coverage.
PLASTISOL TRANSFER: Ink is covered onto a piece of paper which is then placed on the product to be imprinted, heat is applied over the paper, and the whole image is transferred onto the garment. Heat transfers, also known as iron-ons, are especially good for wearables like caps, hats and jackets. This method leaves a textured, rubbery feeling on the finished product.
PUFF PRINTS: Puff inks have a chemical base in their ink that allows the ink to expand when it is exposed to heat. The water and the alcohol in the ink is absorbed out and this is what causes the ink to rise and give the puff effect. Caps, hats and other wearables are items using the puff ink process. The puff ink process must be used on a cotton weave material, wherethe ink has something to latch on to. Therefore, it can not be used on nylon.
SCREEN PRINTING: Finely woven mesh, usually made from polyester, is stretched across a wood or metal frame to give a drum-tight carrier for the image. An image is placed on the screen photographicically, giving an opening in the mesh where the image is to appear on the product. The screen is placed directly on the product, and ink is then run over the screen directly onto the product that is to be imprinted. The ink flows through open regions on the screen. Each individual color that is used requires its own individual screen. Screenprinting is used mainly on metal, wearables, paper, acetate, plastic, leather, vinyl, ceramics and glass products. Just about any type of product can be screen printed. Since the screensare produced photographically, this is an excellent processfor fine lines and details. Color registration is sometimes a problem, however, as it uses more ink than other processes and is also somewhat slower. This is not the best method
SUBLIMATION: The image to be imprinted is run on an offset printer, where it is then placed on a plain piece of paper. The paper then becomes a heat-transfer and is placed on the front of the product. When the heat is applied to the paper, the ink is released from the paper as a gas., then dyes itself into the material. Wearables, especially caps and hats use the sublimation process. The ink actually bonds with the product material. This process must be done on white-or cream-colored 100% polyester fabrics. A plastisol transfer must be used on dark fabrics or cotton fabrics.