Decorating Processes (a learning page)

  • Digital Printing (Apparel): digital printing on fabric is very similar to the way an inkjet photo printer prints on paper, using CMYK ink jets that spray the design onto a substrate. When printing digitally, re-creating the color you see on a computer monitor is a pretty easy process, mostly because the computer does all the calculations to determine the amount of cyan, magenta, yellow, or black needed to reproduce that color. By comparison, screen printing is a much more labor-intensive process. Exact Pantone matches cannot be guaranteed when printing digitally. (Note: 100% cotton is by far the best material to use. However, remember that all cotton tees are not created equal. Other fabrics (include twill, canvas, silk and linen) that can produce amazing results too. It is highly recommended to inquire about testing of garments and fabric other than cotton. If the decorator does not have experience with a particular garment, complications could arise, and it's best to troubleshoot right off the bat. (good on t-shirts, polo shirts, tote bags, etc.)
  • Direct Color System: Direct Color Systems are used to imprint multiple colors onto an substrate (object), and will imprint onto almost anything, including brass, glass, acrylic, wood, ceramic tiles, metals, plastics, PVC, pens, golf balls, baseballs, and anodized aluminum. It will not print on rubber, or products with a silicone or Teflon coating. It will not print to polypropylene unless the substrate is flame treated, corona treated, or chemically wiped before printing. (good on name tags, photo lD tags, key tags, awards, brass, tile, CD's, plastic, etc.)
  • Dye Sublimation: an imaging process that vaporizes colorant with heat and pressure, and deposits it on to a substrate in order to simulate a continuous tone image. (good for coffee mugs, name badges, plaques, license tags, shirts, etc.)
  • Emboss / Deboss: Embossing impresses an image into the surface in relief creating a raised image. Debossing is just the opposite and creates an image pressed into the surface of an object. (good on leather apparel, leather and vinyl products)
  • Embroidery: a design stitched onto a material through the use of high speed, computer controlled sewing machines. The design is reproduced with tightly-stitched thread. Embroidery is most commonly used on logo patches and directly on some wearables. Fine detail is difficult to achieve. (good on shirts, towels, aprons, jackets, caps, athletic apparel, t-shirts, sweat shirts, totes, blankets, etc.)
  • Engraving / Laser Engraving: term for incising lines directly into a metal plate or, in the case of wood engraving, an end grain block of hard wood. Laser engraving uses a laser to vaporize a preprogrammed pattern into the surface of the material. (good on plaques, trophies, signs, glasses, pens, rubber stamps, etc.)
  • Four Color Process (aka as 4CP) Printing: a process in which we start with finished full-color artwork and separate out the three subtractive primary colors of yellow, cyan, magenta, plus black. A program creates separate films that are then printed with special process inks and the resulting print appears just like the original artwork. This is the same basic technology used in your home or office ink jet printer. (good on Business cards, brochures, menus, padded forms, carbon-less forms, sales flyer's, brochures, etc.)
  • Pad Printing: recessed surface is covered with ink; the plate is wiped clean, yet the ink remains in the recessed area of the plate. A silicone pad presses against the plate and pulls the ink out of the recesses. The pad then moves and presses directly against the product. Pad printing is excellent for imprinting small, unusually-shaped objects for which screen printing is not practical. Small watch dials and cylinder shapes are some examples. This is not the most highly-recommended process for imprinting large areas; screen printing is better for large areas of ink coverage. (good on plastics, paper, ceramics, glassware, wearables, leather and vinyl)
  • Screen Printing / Silk Screening: method in which an image is transferred to the surface to be printed by means of ink squeezed by a squeegee through a stenciled screen stretched over a frame. Screens are treated with a light-sensitive emulsion, and then the film positives are put in contact with the screens and exposed to a strong light. The light hardens the emulsion not covered by the film leaving a soft area on the screen for the squeegee to force ink through. Screen printing is capable of printing on irregular shaped objects. Glass, plastic, fabric and wood are popular materials on which to screen print. Also called "silk screening".(good on mugs, license tags, water bottles, t-shirts, towels, aprons, uniforms, sport shirts, etc.)
  • Vinyl Cutting: A vinyl cutter plotter is a piece of computer equipment frequently used for sign making. A vinyl letter machine may be large or small and can be used to cut out vinyl sign lettering and other graphics, to make everything from bumper stickers to billboards. The vinyl used is like a decal material, with a vinyl facing and adhesive backing attached to a paper liner. Certain types are more durable and made to withstand exterior use. Heat-transferable vinyl, such as for making T-shirts, is also available and can be used with plotters. (good on signage, vehicle lettering, business front window & door designs, sport jerseys, contractor signs, banners, etc.)
  • Digital Printing (Vinyl): Pretty much the same as above, but using a digital system, therefore creating unlimited colors for imprint. (good on decals, window graphics, sign graphics, etc.)
  • Laissez les bon temps rouler! (pronounced lay-zay lay bon ton rule-ay)