Imprint Methods: Choosing the Best Option for Your Branded Swag

  • Mar 7, 2018

When creating custom branded swag, you’re presented with a number of different options. While being able to create something entirely unique is great for standing out from the crowd, it can also feel overwhelming.

Understanding the difference between different Imprint methods and techniques can help you make smart decisions about the promotional products that you order. When you’re making educated decisions, you’ll know you’re getting an item your target audience will love! 

Kinds of Imprint Methods

Let’s take a look at a few different imprint methods and techniques you may want to consider, and what each means.

Screen Printing

Screen printing, also known as silk screening, is one of the most popular ways to imprint t-shirts, bags, or other custom items. Screen printing applies layers of ink with a stencil. If there are multiple colors to the design, another stencil with different ink will be used.

Laser Engraving and Etching

If you’re looking to add a design to a hard item, such as a glass or a piece of metal, you’ll want to use laser engraving or etching. Engraving uses a laser beam to create deep cuts into the surface. Similarly, etching melts the surface of the item, causing it to raise. Both engraving and etching does not feature colors, but can still help you create unique drinkware, cutting boards, or coasters.

Pad Printing

Pad printing works similarly to a rubber stamp. With pad printing, your print will be etched into a large silicone pad. Then, ink will be added to the pad and pressed into the item. This helps to create a clean, crisp image. Pad printing allows you to add logos, designs, and images to things like ornaments, sports balls, and even food.

Offset Printing

Offset printing allows you to add your image or print to a number of different items, including those that are rough, curved, or weirdly shaped, such as napkins. With offset printing, your image is printed onto a metal plate. From there, a rubber roller transfers the image onto the product.

Foil Printing and Hot Stamping

If you’re looking to add some metallic color to your items, you can use foil printing or hot stamping. Foil printing and hot stamping takes metallic foil paper and presses it into the surface. Foil printing or hot stamping can be added to a number of items, such as clothing, bags, napkins, and more.

Full Bleed

Full bleed imprinting helps you create a design without edges or margins. This kind of imprinting allows you to create the illusion that the image runs off the item. You can use the full bleed imprint method on items like coasters or magnets.

Debossing and Embossing

Debossing and embossing can help you create a sophisticated image on everything from leather wallets to folders and napkins. Embossing creates a raised look on the item, while debossing presses down into the item to create a stamped illusion. Embossing works better on paper items, such as labels or folders, while debossing is great for leather products.


Embroidery is another popular imprint method, particularly when wanting to create high-quality fabric products. Embroidery uses a needle and thread to add images, logos, and other designs to things like blankets, clothing, or hats. Because embroidery is not printed with ink, it can last longer and create a better quality image. However, getting extreme detail with embroidery can be challenging or expensive.

Dye Sublimation

Dye sublimation uses a special inkjet printer to add designs onto a transfer medium. Then, with heat and pressure, the transfer medium adds the design onto the item. This process is great for adding high-quality, detailed images to items like lanyards, koozies, flags, or other cloth materials.

Epoxy Dome Imprint

Epoxy dome imprints are typically used with plastic items, such as keychains. With this process, a clear, glossy dome is added to an item over a logo or design. This makes the product incredibly durable, ensuring your logo is not scratched off while the product is used.

Selecting the Right Imprint Method for Your Project

When choosing imprint methods for your new useful promo items, you want to first consider what you’re trying to add your logo or design to. There are some kinds of imprinting that can only be added to certain items.

Next you will want to consider the look or feel you’re going for. For example, embroidery or foil printing often appear higher quality. If you’re looking to truly invest in high-quality items, you’ll want to use an imprint method that sets the right tone.

Finally, you’ll want to consider your budget. You can't forget about common add-on costs of promo items! While embroidery may look great, it isn’t the most cost-efficient if you’re looking to hand out items at an event or fair. However, the investment may be worth it if you’re looking to give away items to clients or your employees. Consider how much money you have to work with when deciding the imprint method that is right for you.


If you need additional help deciding the imprint method that works for your next project, contact us at Cubik Promotions!

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