Common Promotional Products Terminology:
screen printing: an image is transferred to the printed surface by ink, which is pressed through a stenciled screen and treated with a light-sensitive emulsion. film positives are put in contact with the screens and exposed to light, hardening the emulsion not covered by film and leaving a soft area on the screen for the squeegee to press ink through. (also called silk screening)

pad printing: a recessed surface is covered with ink. the plate is wiped clean, leaving ink in the recessed areas. a silicone pad is then pressed against the plate, pulling the ink out of the recesses, and pressing it directly onto the product.

4-color process: a system where a color image is separated into 4 different color values by the use of filters and screens (usually done digitally). the result is a color separation of 4 images, that when transferred to printing plates and printed on a printing press with the colored inks cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black, reproduces the original color image. these four colors can be combined to create thousands of colors.

pantone matching system (PMS):  a book of standardized color in a fan format used to identify, match and communicate colors in order to produce accurate color matches in printing. each color has a coded number indicating instructions for mixing inks to achieve that color.

imprint area: the area on a product, with specific dimensions, in which the imprint is placed.

paper proof: impression of type or artwork on paper so the correctness and quality of the material to be printed can be checked. the least expensive is a regular black and white faxed paper proof.

pre-production proof: an actual physical sample of the product itself produced and sent for approval before an order goes into production.

drop shipment: an order shipped to more than one location will be charged a fee for each additional destination.

less than minimum: the fee charged for ordering 50% fewer items than the quantity listed in the minimum or first column. this option is not always available on all products.

etching: using a process in which an image is first covered with a protective coating that resists acid, then exposed, leaving bare metal and protected metal. the acid attacks only the exposed metal, leaving the image etched onto the surface.

engraving: cutting an image into metal, wood or glass by one of three methods--computerized engraving, hand tracing, or hand engraving. colorfill screen printing an image and then debossing it onto the vinyl's surface

embroidery: stitching a design into fabric through the use of high-speed, computer-controlled sewing machines. artwork must first be "digitized," which is the specialized process of converting two-dimensional artwork into stitches or thread. A particular format of art such as a jpeg, tif, eps, or bmp, cannot be converted into an embroidery tape. the digitizer must actually recreate the artwork using stitches. it programs the sewing machine to sew a specific design, in a specific color, with a specific type of stitch. this is the process known as digitizing.

debossing: depressing an image into a material's surface so that the image sits below the product surface.

embossing: impressing an image in relief to achieve a raised surface.


hot stamp: setting a design on a relief die, which is then heated and pressed onto the printing surface laser or foil stamp applying metallic or colored foil imprints to vinyl, leather or paper surfaces.

personalization: imprinting an item with a person's name using one of several methods such as mechanical engraving, laser engraving, hot stamping, debossing, sublimation, or screen printing.

die-casting: injecting molten metal into the cavity of a carved die (a mold) die-striking producing emblems and other flat promotional products by striking a blank metal sheet with a hammer that holds the die.

vector ready artwork:  vector files define a graphic by using mathematical algorithms, which allow the image to be scaled or modified without loss of image quality or resolution. when your artwork or logo is in a vectored format (either .ai or .eps), it allows you to increase or decrease the size of the graphic without compromising the integrity of the original image. the end result is a crisp, clear, and readable image no matter what the final output or size.