Classic Imprinting Methods

Imprinting branding techniques allow you to display your company’s logo, name, ad messages and contact information on promotional products. You can use several imprinting methods to embed these messages on products like custom-branded apparellanyards and drinkware. Some classic imprinting methods have stood the test of time and continue to be used today. They produce clear, precise and durable prints that perform just as well as many modern methods.

1. Embroidery

Embroidery is among the earliest forms of decoration and dates back to between the 5th and 3rd centuries B.C. In ancient times, embroiderers used only their hands and a needle and thread, but with industrialization, the process became mechanized. Today, embroidery can be used to add logos, company names and simple artwork to promotional products made of fabric, such as bagsapparelblanketsouterwear and caps.

Modern embroidery involves uploading a custom design onto a computer. The computer feeds the design to a machine that stitches the design onto promotional products. The result is clear and professional-looking stitched logos and designs. Another benefit is that embroidery works for multicolored logos and stitches them one thread color at a time.

classic imprinting methods

Advantages of Embroidery

Embroidery offers the following advantages:

  • It provides a professional, polished and refined finish that works great for corporate attire, scrubs and medical uniforms.
  • There are many styles, including embroidered patches, flat embroidery and puff embroidery.
  • The sturdy polyester threads can withstand bleach, the elements, and wear and tear.
  • Pricing is not determined by the number or colors of threads used. You can use multiple thread colors.
  • It offers a high level of consistency, so it works well for bulk orders.

Disadvantages of Embroidery

Consider the potential disadvantages of embroidery:

  • Embroidery can’t typically be used to produce gradient colors.
  • You can’t use embroidery on waterproof apparel items because the stitching creates openings in the fabric.
  • Embroidery is not effective for imprinting small text. If the text is too small, it may not be visible.
  • The elegant look of embroidery costs more than other forms of ink printing.
  • It’s not the best choice for detailed logos and designs.
  • You can only use the embroidery technique on fabric promotional items.

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2. Screen Printing

Screen printing, or silk screening, dates back hundreds of years. Traditional screen printing is done by hand, and modern screen printing employs technology and machines like screen printing presses.

This method involves the use of custom-made screens or stencils and plastisol ink. The design is created on the screen or stencil, and the ink is poured, rubbed, rolled or sprayed through the cut-out sections. The product is then exposed to UV light that dries the ink on the screen. The process may need to be repeated several times to ensure a complete transfer of the design onto the object’s surface.

You can use screen printing for promotional products made of textiles, paper, plastic, glass, wood or metal. This technique is most cost-effective when used to produce single-color designs because multicolor designs need to be printed in individual layers.

Advantages of Screen Printing

Screen printing offers the following advantages:

  • It’s cost-effective for bulk orders because one mesh screen can produce consistent designs on multiple items.
  • It’s suitable for light and waterproof fabrics that can’t be embroidered.
  • It works great for detailed designs and gradient colors.
  • It’s incredibly versatile and works for products made of different materials and in a variety of sizes.
  • Designs can last a long time with proper maintenance and cleaning practices.

Disadvantages of Screen Printing

You may notice these disadvantages with the screen printing method:

  • The quality and clarity of prints depend on the garment fabric and colors.
  • Screen printing prices vary based on the number of colors used to complete a design.
  • It does not work as well on heavy or fuzzy fabrics, such as fleece and 100% cotton.
  • Because the ink is not embedded into the fabric, there’s a risk that it’ll crack and chip over time.
  • It’s more costly for small orders.

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3. Pad Printing

Pad printing machines consist of three main components: rubber or silicone printing pads, image plates and printing ink. These machines employ a stamping technique to transfer images etched on the silicone or rubber pad and dipped in ink onto products. This method is commonly used to imprint 2D logos and designs on a range of 3D objects.

Pad printing can be used on products made of rubber, glass, wood, metal and plastic. It’s also the best option for oddly shaped and sized items, like key chainsmood bracelets and stress relievers.

Advantages of Pad Printing

Pad printing is beneficial because:

  • It’s versatile and able to produce a range of designs on various materials.
  • It doesn’t make any physical or chemical changes to an item’s surface.
  • It can be used to add your custom logo in various colors and finishes, including glossy, matte and transparent.
  • It’s a cost-effective imprinting method, even when you order many items.
  • It can produce high-quality prints and help you achieve complex patterns, texts and logos with intricate designs.
  • It’s the best method for imprinting on tiny, irregular, fragile or uneven objects.
  • It achieves near-perfect consistency for bulk orders.

Disadvantages of Pad Printing

Here are some potential downsides of pad printing:

  • It’s slow and results in relatively low productivity.
  • Designs are susceptible to fading, peeling and fraying.
  • The silicone or rubber pads can only be used with one color at a time.
  • It produces hazardous waste.

4. Laser Engraving

Laser engraving is newer than the other classic imprinting methods and was invented after scientists discovered it was possible to focus the light and its energy to mark various materials. Laser engraving involves removing or oxidizing the top surface of materials to create a permanent mark. The laser beam is controlled by computer software and focused on a specific area using directional mirrors.

The laser etches clean and precise designs without any color or ink. The color of the logo or artwork is dependent on the color of the product you’re working with. Laser engraving can be used on various materials, including glass, metal or wood. It can’t be used on plastic products because the heat may distort them. It’s the go-to method for imprinting for a wide range of promo products, including stainless steel water bottlesspeakersserving trays and pens.

Advantages of Laser Engraving

Laser engraving comes with the following benefits:

  • You can use it in conjunction with other imprinting methods.
  • It can etch designs in unique places, including seams and zippers.
  • It provides a premium and high-end look.
  • Laser marks are permanent and don’t easily fade, chip or peel.
  • The process is fast and enables fast production times and high efficiency.
  • It’s versatile and works on products of different materials, shapes and sizes.

Disadvantages of Laser Engraving

You should also consider the disadvantages of laser engraving:

  • These promotional products are expensive because of high equipment costs.
  • Laser engraving can only be done by highly knowledgeable and trained laser machine operators.
  • It requires careful operation because the high-energy beam can cause injury to the operator if not handled correctly.
  • It’s limited to certain materials and doesn’t support color imprinting.

Get Classically Imprinted Promotional Products From ePromos

At ePromos, we produce high-quality promotional products using these classic imprinting methods for showcasing your brand. Our experts will help you select the most appropriate imprinting method for your specific promotional product and ensure it turns out exactly how you envisioned it. You can be confident that the final design will be perfect because we provide free samples, artwork cleanup and digital proofs.

Browse our selection of premium promotional products, or contact us for more information.

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About Author

Katie Salerno Avatar

Katie S.

Reviewed By: Kaite S. - Marketing Brand Specialist

Tenacious brand warrior who is laser-focused on boosting our brand through effective social media presence and multiple resources. Principal producer of marvelous messages and email exposés. Message + Creative maestro who has an opening for a puppy co-worker with the expectation they stay clear of her pommes frites.