Decorating Techniques

Decorating Techniques

In order to imprint the wide-array of products and countless different substrates available, a variety of imprint methods are utilized.

In this section you can view the most commonly used imprint methods in the promotional products industry. Some of the methods give you great flexibility, while others can be more restrictive.

Pad Printing is one of the most commonly used imprint methods because it works well on cylindrical products. You can do multiple colors of imprint and also reproduce relatively small type. The imprints are durable because like screen printing, the products go through a drying oven. The only real drawback to pad printing is the relatively small imprint size. The maximum imprint area is generally 3” x 3”.

Screen Printing is another very commonly used imprint method. It is most often used on flat goods like T-shirts, clipboards, mousepads, etc. You’ll see in the video that screen printing is also being used to print some stadium cups. Multiple colors and even full-color process imprints can be achieved through screen printing. The only drawback to screen printing is that very fine detail can sometimes be lost or the center of letters like A, B, O, etc. will sometimes fill in.

Digital Laser Printing is a fairly new imprint method and one that is gaining a lot of momentum. You’ll see in the video that the products are loaded into trays and then move into the imprint chamber where a laser passes over the products transferring your imprint. This method is very similar to a laser paper printer. Multiple colors and fine detail are reproduced with “laser precision” and great clarity.

Embroidery is still the most commonly used decoration method for apparel products like caps, polo shirts, dress shirts and even backpacks and other fabric bags, etc. There are three keys to getting great embroidery results:  1.) The degree of quality in the digitizing or “computerized creation” of your artwork for the embroidery process. You get what you pay for! There is an art to programming and it needs to be very detail-oriented. 2.) The fabric texture and hooping of the garment. A smooth texture and appropriate hooping tension is the key to achieving optimum results. 3.) Embroidery speed. A knowledgeable embroidery machine operator will know how to “tweak” the machine speed to maximize the finished product’s quality. The drawback to embroidery is that it’s done with thread and not ink. Letters are never perfectly reproduced like they would be using other imprint methods. Logos with a color gradation will not be able to be reproduced in thread the same way they are on paper.

Off Set Printing

Off-Set Printing is used when printing business cards, letterhead and envelopes. In the promotional product arena, this method is used when creating calendars, journal books and other paper products. The great thing about off-set printing is that you can recreate virtually any design no matter how many colors or detailed the imprint.

Please check back later to view Off-Set Printing.

Laser Engraving is generally used on metal and wood products. These items can be cylindrical or flat. The laser cuts away the product’s exterior finish exposing the raw material under that surface. The imprint is extremely durable. This method allows for only one color of imprint and very fine detail/letters will sometimes fill in.

Hot Stamping

Hot stamping is generally used on vinyl and leather products to reproduce one color logos. A die containing the desired imprint is made and then attached to a press where heat and pressure are used to literally melt foil onto the product leaving a rich reproduction of your logo. Small type fonts and fine detail can pose a problem for this imprint method.


Like Hot Stamping, a die is made of the imprint and then attached to a press where heat and pressure leave a depression, or if done from the backside, a raised impression of your logo in paper, leather, vinyl and now some apparel fabrics. Small type fonts and fine detail may fill in.

Die Striking

Die striking is done on metal. Our U.S. coins are created using this method. A reverse die of the image you want to create is in most cases hand-carved and then oven baked. The die is then mounted in a high-relief press where the image is stamped into the metal. The metal is then trimmed and polished and sometimes color-filled. This is a very elegant form of imprinting, often times used on high-end business gifts.

Heat Transfers are used on fabric products like can coolers, mousepads and many apparel items. You can do multiple colors and even fairly fine detail. Your imprint is reproduced on a paper transfer and then applied to the product with heat and pressure.