Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bleed on a printed product?

Bleeds allow your printed design to go to the very edge of one (or more) sides of the printed sheet. If you want an 8-1/2″ x 11″ flyer, and want patterned background printed on the entire surface, then the print image would extend to all four edges of the 4 sides of each sheet. If your print image is exactly 8-1/2″ x 11″, it is difficult to have a commercial printing press print the size exactly without occasional white edges (from the paper showing if there is a slight movement in the press).
The solution; use print designs that have bleeds added. Bleeds are extended design images BEYOND the edge of the printed sheet size. In our example above, the patterned background could be 9″ x 11.5″ (by adding an extra 0.25″ on all 4 sides. The extra 0.25″ per side are called bleeds.
When we print jobs that have bleeds, we actually print the sheets on paper larger than the finished size (i.e. 8-1/2″ x 11″), and then trim the excess to the desired size. This produces a clean, professional looks with no accidental small, white borders.

What are crop marks?

In printing, crop marks are tick marks (or lines) positioned at the corners of your design to indicate where to cut the product after it has been printed. Because the process of cutting isn’t 100% precise, it is recommended to utilize both bleeds and margins to ensure that your design turns out as you expect it to with no missing elements.

What is debossing?

Debossing is to decorate something depressing the design or pattern into the product. This creates a “sunken in” look which draws the eye. Like embossing, debossing is most often used in printed products, but is also possible on surfaces such as leather. Both processes are excellent at creating both a crisp visual effect, as well as adding unique texture.

Also called “dye sub”, this is a printing technique that is most commonly used on t-shirts, apparel, and fabric-based products. It embeds a design on fabric using a combination of heat-sensitive ink (called disperse dyes) and heat. This process works best with 100% polyester, or high polyester content blend, fabrics. It is best suited to projects that require a colorful design, printing “all over” (edge-to-edge) the fabric, or where it is preferred to have the imprint embedded in the fabric, as opposed to printed on top of it. Compared to screen printing, it also has the advantage of needing no drying time.

What is embossing?

Embossing is to decorate something by elevate a design, pattern, etc. This is most often used on printed products, but can also be used on other products such as leather. The embossing effect is achieved by carving, molding, or stamping. This three-dimensional effect is used to cause the eye to be directed toward the design that appears to be jumping out towards them. The opposite of embossing is debossing.

What is embroidery?


Embroidery is a technique to embellish fabric (for instance t-shirts, fleece jackets, caps, etc.) with decorative stitching that creates a raised, ornamental design using thread (often in various colors). Embroidery is popular because of its upscale look and feel, and its durability.


What is foil stamping?

Foil stamping is a special printing process that applies colored foils to the surface of a product through a combination of heat and pressure. This process often uses metallic foils on matte products to create an elegant contrast. Even though metallic foils are the most popular, though, there are also many of kinds of foils ranging from matte to glossy in various colors. It is an excellent method of making a logo “pop” while also giving a bit of texture to the product.
In the printing and promotional products industries, the term “fulfillment” is generally used when one or more of the following is needed;
  •  finished products need to be stored (warehoused), and shipped as directed at a later date
  • several different items need to be collated together and shipped as directed (an employee on-boarding gift set, presentation folders with selected brochures and flyers inserted, etc.)
  • a large quantity of items need to be separated and drop-shipped to various locations

What are gradients?


Gradients, also known as color transitions, are a gradual blending from one color to another (but not limited to just 2 shades!). Gradients can be accomplished in many printing and embellishment techniques; but not all. So if your logo or imprint image includes gradients, it is best to confirm if they can be printed properly with your chosen, or preferred, method.


What is heat transfer?


Heat transfer is when an image is printed onto a special transfer paper (that has heat-activated adhesive on the reverse side), and then thermally transferred to a fabric (t-shirt, jacket, tote bag, etc.) using heat and pressure. Heat transfer is sometimes used instead of screen printing when small quantities are required, especially when multiple imprint colors are desired (as the initial setup is less costly). Heat transfer typically offers a higher image resolution than screen printing, but is more costly at higher quantities.


In the printing and promotional products industries, the term “kitting” is generally used when one or more of the following is needed;
  • a promotional product needs to be matched with a piece of print collateral before being shipped or delivered
  • several products need to be grouped together into a single package (like a new employee on-boarding kit, or an influencer marketing introduction)
  • creating custom-designed packaging (i.e. display boxes, shipping cartons, custom wraps, etc.) and/or gift wrapping, adding ribbons or bow, etc.
Kitting is often used in the fulfillment process.

What are pantone colors?

To put it simply, Pantone colors are a method of standardizing colors for use in designing, printing, and manufacturing. Color accuracy is important, but can be difficult to achieve. For example, maybe you want a blue shirt for your next event. Well, which shade of blue? Turquoise? Navy? Teal? Do you want it lighter or darker? Describing colors is difficult, to say the least. So the Pantone Matching System (PMS) standardizes over 1,000 colors and assigns them a name and number. These colors (along with their name and number) are available on swatches so that designers and manufacturers can double check accuracy every step of the way. By using this system we can confirm both that you are happy with the chosen color, as well as the fact that the end product matches what was asked for.

What is pilling?


Pilling is a surface defect of textiles that cause a tangled ball of fibers to appear on the surface. These “pills” occur as a result of wear or continued friction/rubbing on the surface of the fabric. Many modern manufacturing processes exist to help prevent this from happening, and some fabrics are specifically designed to avoid it.


What is raster art?


Raster images are graphics that are made up of individually colored dots called pixels. These pixels are arranged in a grid to produce the image you see. Raster images are extremely common in file extensions such as JPEG, PNG, PSD, and TIFF. Even the pictures you take on your phone are raster images. However, despite their widespread use, they have a distinct setback. Because these images are made with individually colored pixels (unlike vector art which is made via formulas), zooming in too much will cause the image to become blurry, grainy, or pixelated. If using a raster image for your art, it is best to have images of the desired (printed) size to avoid unwanted blurriness. Where possible, start with a higher resolution than necessary since raster images will keep their crisp appearance when scaled down; just not when scaled up.

What is the safe area for printing?

When designing a printed product, it’s important to remember that part of the manufacturing process involves cutting. As such, it’s important to plan your design in such a way that important elements are not in danger of being cut off in this process.

With this in mind, we suggest that all designs have 1/8″ margin (as well as 1/16″ bleeds where applicable) between the planned edge of the printed product and the important aspects of the design. This ensures that things like your logo or important dates, for example, are safely in the printed area and won’t be cut off during production.

What is screen printing?


Widely considered the most popular method for imprinting fabric, screen printing has been around for ages and is fairly versatile. The image to be printed is separated into a series of single-color designs. A mesh screen is placed over the fabric, and one of the ink colors is pulled down across the screen, allowing the ink to seep into the material in the locations dictated by the design. Each color (if applicable) gets a new screen and the process is repeated.


What is a setup charge?


When buying (or being quoted on) promotional products, you may have noticed a line item called “setup charge.” This is not just a random fee to get you to pay more. Rather, it’s a one-time charge for the cost of setting up the equipment to manufacture your order. For example, certain products require a special plate with your design in order to create your customized items. The setup fee is what you pay for that plate and the labor required to use it or create it.

Each individual promotional product has a different required process to create it, so unfortunately we can’t just include a one-fits-all fee for all products. Thus, the setup charge will vary from product to product, and some will not have a fee at all. However, regardless of the product we do our best to ensure the fee is fair for all parties involved.

What is a sublimation?

Sublimation is a printing process which utilizes heat to essentially fuse ink to a material. It is often used for clothing because it allows full-color designs that can cover the entire garment. In addition, the process causes the design to be less prone to fading.
So if you’re looking for a large design that won’t crack, peel, or wash away from the material it’s printed on, sublimation is likely what you are looking for.

See also: “Dye Sublimation”

What is vector art?


Images that are to be printed generally fall into one of two categories; vector or raster. Vector art (or images) are created using mathematical formulas (as opposed to raster art which is created with a series of dots or pixels). Vector art is created with professional design software like Adobe Illustrator. Vector art is preferred (and often required) when very sharp printed detail is desired, and when an image has to be scaled up to a larger size (for instance, when printing a banner or sign). Vector art sizes can be changed without reducing the quality or sharpness of the image. Unfortunately, some image types cannot be created in vector format (for instance, photographs). See raster art for details about photographs and other non-vector images.