Most products can be decorated using one or more decoration methods. The following list details methods used by the promotional products industry to brand product. The method used on each product is dependent upon the material to be decorated. We have already pre-selected the methods we will use, and removed the need to understand the technicalities, making it simpler for you to order your merchandise. Despite this, we understand some of you will want to understand the different decoration methods and how they work
Obvius One Colour Print Options
We use the following methods for printing only one colour, despite the fact that, typically, these methods can be used to print more than one colour.
Pad printing, sometimes referred to as tampo printing, is most often used for printing on small items and is particularly effective on round or curved surfaces. This is due to the fact that a flexible silicon pad is used for transferring ink from its surface onto the receiving item under pressure. Hence its classification as an indirect print method. To achieve ink transfer, an etch of the image is created, known as a cliché. One cliché is created for each colour in the image, up to six separate colours. Once the cliché is filled with ink the surface becomes tacky when exposed to air which enables the ink to adhere to the pad, and later, the product. The pad is pressed onto the ink filled cliché briefly. As air compresses from the cliché, the ink lifts and is transferred onto the pad. The pad, now with the ink attached, is compressed on the item. The ink is transfers from the pad onto the item due to the unique properties of silicon. The cycle repeats for each item and colour.
Ideal for printing exact colours based on the Pantone Matching System (PMS) colour palette
As the name suggests, this method uses a screen, a very fine piece of mesh, as the vehicle to transfer ink onto the desired surface. To create the screen, a piece of photo emulsified mesh is stretched over a frame. Each colour within the image to be printed is separated into templates. Each template is placed in a separate frame which are exposed to ultra violet light. The area covered by the template washes away under water after exposure becoming permeable, leaving the reverse template visible on the mesh. Each frame representing each colour in the image, is attached to a separate arm of a rotating mechanism and filled with ink. One by one, the frames pass over the product to be decorated, which are positioned on a flat print bed, where ink is pressed through the mesh onto the decoration surface using a squeegee. Once each colour has been applied, the decorated product is passed through a heated oven to cure.
Ideal for printing exact colours based on the Pantone Matching System (PMS) colour palette.
Obvius Multi Colour Print Options
Printing multi-colour or full colour photos onto items can be achieved easily using digital printers. Not unlike your home colour inkjet printer, the colours within an image or the picture are converted to four colour values known as CMYK. In digital printing machines, the image file is loaded directly into the printer, avoiding the need to make pads (Pad Printing) or screens (Screen Printing). It also allows for on-demand printing, short turnaround time, and even variable data to be applied for each impression where product personalisation is required. The four colours represented by CMYK are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Whilst the blended colours are a close representation of the colour represented in the image, exact colour representation is not guaranteed, particularly where a Pantone colour is specified. For this reason, where exact Pantone Matching System (PMS) colour is required, this method is not the optimal option. When printing small items, the use of jigs allows the printing of multiple items at once, increasing efficiency and throughput. Digital printing can be used on any flat surface including fabrics.
In some instances, it is more economical, or practical, to apply a label printed with the required image or photograph as opposed to directly printing on the target material. Where this is applicable, sheets of pre-cut labels are digitally printed prior to being manually applied to the required product. This method is low cost, however it is not permanent.
This method is well suited to multicolour, complex decoration requirements and an alternative to Digital Printing detailed above. As the name suggests, the required image is reverse printed, using a digital printer, onto a paper transfer which is subsequently adhesive backed. Using a press, the item to be decorated, and the transfer, are pressed together at high temperature to apply the image from the paper to the item. This technique is ideal on flat surfaces and fabrics.
Like Transfer Printing, Sublimation is a heat press and transfer decoration method. However, unlike Transfer Printing which is pressed onto the target material, sublimation infuses the image into the target material. Sublimation printing is a digital printing technology however is can only be applied to polyester and polymer-coated target materials. This technique is commonly used for decorating apparel, signs and banners, plaques, coffee mugs, and other items with sublimation-friendly surfaces. The process uses the science of sublimation, in which heat and pressure are applied to a solid, turning it into a gas through an endothermic reaction without passing through the liquid phase. In sublimation printing, unique sublimation dyes are printed onto transfer paper using liquid gel ink. The transfer is placed on a heat press along with the target material where, under pressure and heat, the sublimation dyes are infused into the material at the molecular level. As a result, sublimation prints will not crack, fade or peel under normal conditions.
The most common method used to decorate garments and headwear whereby coloured thread is stitched in outlines and patterns to represent an image or text. To turn an image into an embroidery, the image is passed through software which analyses the image and converts it into an object based fie which identifies information such as outlines, thread colours, stitch count, stitch patterns and paths. This file is re-sized and modified until the image is suitable for the item on which it will be applied. Once complete, the file is exported into a format specific to the embroidery machine, where the product to be decorated is attached using a clamping device known as a hoop. The digitised file, once loaded into the embroidery machine, controls the needles which stitch the image onto the item, selecting pre-loaded thread colours automatically until completed. Embroidery machines can embroider up to twenty items with the same design at once, making this a relatively efficient option.
Many thread colours can be matched to colours based on the Pantone Matching System (PMS) colour palette.
Obvius Laser Engraving
Laser Engraving, Etching and Marking
Laser technology provides a permanent marking technique which is available across on a diverse range of materials – metals, glass, fabric, leather, ceramic, wood, plastic. The word ‘laser’ is actually an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation whereby energy is used to raise the levels of atoms to an excited state. As the atoms begin to return to their normal state, they emit light. The light emitted by the excited atoms, stimulates other excited atoms to release more light, formed to beams. These atoms reside in different mediums such as Gas, Crystal and Fibre Optic which effectively create the alternative laser decoration methods
Marking – a low powered beam that heats the target material causing oxidation under the surface whilst leaving the surface intact.
Engraving – a high power beam which essentially vaporises the surface of the target material creating a cavity.
Etching – a high power beam with melts the surface of the target material which expands and causes a raised mark.
Like digital printing, the image or text to be decorated is loaded directly into the laser machine, avoiding the need to make pads (Pad Printing) or screens (Screen Printing) allowing for on-demand decoration, short turnaround time, and even variable data to be applied where product personalisation is required. When decorating small items, the use of jigs enables the decoration of multiple items at once, increasing efficiency and throughput.
Obvius Embossing and Debossing
Embossing and Debossing
Embossing, raised against the background, and Debossing, recessed into the surface, are decoration methods applied using force and heat which create a three-dimensional effect. Embossing requires two metal dies, known as blocks, one of which is raised, the other recessed, that are engraved with the image or text to be applied. When the two blocks are pressed together, with the target material placed in-between, the raised die forces the image into the material. Debossing only requires one block which is used to indent the target material from the front under pressure. This method is very labour intensive and relatively expensive in low volumes due to the cost of the blocks, although they do offer a high-quality result in leather, faux leather, some fabrics, paper and some plastics. There are several finishes that are commonly applied to these methods that present a variable look
Blind – three-dimensional, subtly appearance without the use of additional colour or materials.
Foil – addition of coloured foil during the stamping process that is embedded into the indentation to highlight the image or logo.
Obvius Additional Applications
Doming is not a form of decoration but the application of a three-dimensional, clear acrylic dome which is stuck onto the target material after it has been decorated. This method is used in conjunction with items decorated by digital printing, digital stickers and laser. The dome creates a glass look that is waterproof, scratch-proof, UV-proof and durable and maintains the colour integrity of the decoration method. Domes can be produced in any size or shape.