There are literally millions of promotional products, understanding how they are printed will help you ensure your artwork is presented in the best way possible. Here are a few of the most popular decoration methods:
1. Pad Printing
Pad printing is a process in which a plastic, glass, ceramic, metal, silicone, or wooden item can be decorated. The image is transferred from ink filled etched images in a printing plate to the part by way of a silicone pad. While transferring the image to the part, the silicone pad wraps around or takes the shape of the part without distorting the image. Pad printing normally take up to 4 spot colors (pre-mixed ink colors). It is the most common decorating method.
Examples of promotional items done by pad printing: pens, water bottles, stress balls.
2. Silkscreen Printing
Silkscreening, also known as screen printing is a printing technique that uses a porous mesh screen that has an ink blocking stencil transferred onto it. The stencil creates blocked and open areas in the screen that allow inks to flow through them and onto a substrate. Nearly any single ink image, logo or design can be transferred onto a screen. Additional colors require new screens. Silkscreening is printed with spot colors (pre-mixed ink colors).
Examples of promotional items done by silkscreening: apparel, tote bags.
3. Full Color Digital Printing
4. Heat Transfer
5. Laser Engraving
Laser engraving on promotional products are often found on wood, acrylic, textiles, stainless steel or glass products. The engraving method requires no consumerables such as inks, and is fast with very little setup time. Therefore a lot of products with personalization is laser engraved.
Examples of promotional items done by laser engraving: stainless steel keychains, glass or acrylic awards.