Screen Printing

This technique dates back donkey’s years, to 1907 to be exact. It’s the oldest, most common and versatile printing method in this industry. This process allows multiple colours, and you can print to multiple positions.

PROS

  • Suitable for a wide variety of product types
  • Most effective form of printing for one colour
  • A variety of inks can be used
  • Cost effective on low and high print runs
  • A very effective method of creating mass and large volume prints

CONS

  • Suitable for solid colours only (not tints).
  • Number of colours printed is limited. This is because each colour is printed individually.
  • Close registration of colours may not be achieved.
  • Drying / curing time can delay lead times on some products.

Digital Printing

Digital images are created by digital cameras, computers and scanners, and the process of digital printing transfers such images to photographic paper or other materials of choice.
This technology has made a huge change to traditional printing methods whereby one “lithograph” was used to print hundreds or thousands of copies of the same image.
Digital printing techniques allow every impression made on the paper to be different, so it is very useful for quickly printing prototypes, or small print runs.

PROS

  • Photographic quality reproduction
  • Short runs, fast turnaround
  • Low set up costs
  • Personalisation possible
  • Plateless technology
  • Wide choice of substrates from toilet roll to heavy card and plastic
  • Small machines, taking less production space
  • Ability to interrupt print runs to produce proofs
  • Technology developing rapidly

CONS

  • Most materials need to be pre-coated
  • Smaller presses are not suitable for long runs as print speeds are slow.
  • Some pantones not achievable from CMYK

Pad Printing

This is a distant relative of screen printing developed in the 1960’s to print on 2-D and 3-D objects and items.
It is a unique process that can transfer fine letters, intricate lines, graphics and four-colour half tone images to products.
Used to print across relatively small, usually plastic products with unusual shapes i.e. cylindrical, spherical, compound angles, textures, concave and convex surfaces.

PROS

  • Suitable for slightly curved and strange shaped products that would otherwise be impossible to print onto
  • Allows an accurate double hit to get strong vibrant colours
  • Allows half tones and fine, intricate lines to be printed

CONS

  • Large curved items have a limited print area
  • Surface needs to be smooth

Dye Sublimation

Dye = the act of soaking a colour into a material.
Sublimation = to change a solid into a gaseous form without ever becoming a liquid (just like dry ice).
Taking these definitions into account Dye Sublimation changes solid dye particles into a gas using heat and pressure and then bonding the gas with the material before returning back into a solid state. This creates a soft edge to the image and, as the colours melt into each other, it gives the appearance of a continuous tone, like recreating a picture.
Dye Sublimation can be used on Polyester and other synthetic fabrics, plastic, paper and specially coated ceramics and metals.

PROS

  • Reproduction of full colour designs
  • Relatively low set up costs
  • Ideal for small runs
  • Dyes material; hard wearing
  • Can be used to decorate a wide range of products

CONS

  • Fine text detail can appear blurred
  • Can’t pantone match colours easily
  • Colour matching harder than screen printing for example
  • Material has to be polyester based

Engraving

Engraving can be defined as the practice of incising/scoring a design onto a hard flat surface by cutting grooves into it. It is commonly used on metal and glass surfaces.
There are 3 types of engraving methods that are used, laser engraving, hand engraving and diamond engraving.

PROS

  • As operated by a computer, this method is faster than many conventional methods of product imprinting
  • As the laser is operated by a computer, there is less opportunity for product damage.
  • There are no consumables and no problems disposing of toxic by-products as some other methods
  • Laser engraving produces a mark that is crisp, clean and permanent, providing greater versatility in material choices

CONS

  • Engraving is a branding method that is offered to metalised, glass, wood and leather products only, as the machines used conduct heat. The heat from the laser and other machines can get so high that it will melt plastic products.

Embossing

Embossing is the process of creating a three-dimensional image or design on a flat flexible surface, which is accomplished by using a combination of heat and pressure. It creates a raised image / impression. Embossing can be used on a number of different materials to include leather, rubber, plastic and paper.

PROS

  • Embossing gives a high quality finish to the product
  • Blind embossing offers exclusive and subtle branding
  • Suitable for small logos
  • A permanent branding method

CONS

  • Not suitable for intricate detailed designs
  • Due to the cost of the dies and even pressure required on the pressing machine, embossing is not suitable if a large branding area is required.
  • As it can take up to 1 week to make the die, lead times can be high.
  • Embossing is not suitable for a multiple coloured logo.

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