Screen-printing is a stencil process. A fine mesh of material is stretched tight on a frame; originally this material was silk hence the word ‘silkscreen’ however polyester is now used instead. Areas of the mesh are blocked with a stencil, and then a squeegee is used to pull ink through the unblocked areas. Stencils are often created now using a light-sensitive screen- coating known as ‘photo-emulsion’. Images drawn onto acetate can then be transferred onto the screen by exposing the emulsion and artwork to UV light. Screen-printing can be used from simple one colour to complex multi-colour imprints. This method will be used to personalise items flat items such as conference folders, bags, t-shirts, rulers, coasters, stickers and mouse mats.
Pad / Tampo Printing
The image to be printed is created on a printing plate, normally produced by chemical etching. The plate is generally steel or a nylon polymer material. The plate is covered with a thin layer of solvent-based ink by using a squeegee mechanism (doctor blade), similar to that used in screen-printing, the ink remains in the areas where the image has been etched out. The solvent evaporates and the top surface of the ink becomes tacky. The method of transferring the ink onto the product to be printed is by means of a silicon rubber pad. This pad is pressed down onto the printing plate and the tacky ink sticks onto the silicon pad. The pad is then moved over and pressed down on the area to be printed. The solvent continues to evaporate from the outer surface of the ink and also becomes tacky, as it is pressed down the ink attaches itself to the surface of the product. As the pad lifts away from the surface the squeegee again recharges the plate with ink and the process is repeated. This process is used to print items that do not necessarily have a perfectly flat surface or have a small print area with obstructions close to the print area. It can be used for simple 1 colour prints or complex multi-colour prints. Suitable product examples for pad printing would be torches, calculators, golf tees and balls, clocks, pen clips, cameras, penknives and computer mice.
There are various forms of transfers generally produced by either screen-print, digital or conventional offset litho printing onto a release paper. The images are then applied to the product using a ‘heated press’. This method of printing is particularly suitable for multi colour prints on textile products and garments.
Diamond Drag Engraving
The drag diamond tool has a conical natural diamond bonded into a stainless steel shank. It has no cutting facets so depth is dependent on engraving pressure. Generally used without a motor the drag diamond cuts a bright groove into any metal item. In order to give a ‘fill’ effect the grooves have to be made with a left-to-right and right-to-left motion producing a cross-hatched pattern.
This method is used to personalise glassware. A stencil is made of the logo design from either a paper or plastic material. This is then taped onto the glassware to be engraved and all areas other than the stencil cut-out are covered. The item placed into the sandblasting chamber. The sandblasting removes a very small amount of the glass surface and produces a frosted finish.
‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’ A powerful radiation light is used to permanently disturb the surface of a product giving a contrast on the coating. There are many different types of laser. Unlike ‘diamond drag’ engraving a laser can produce a continuous fill area instead of a ‘V’ shaped groove, similar to acid etching. CO2 laser – The CO2 gas generates the power for ‘cutting’. This method is used on wood, metal, glass, acrylic and some plastics. YAG laser – in this process the frequency and light power is adjusted to produce different effects on the substrate.
Inverted Glass Engraving
Glass is crushed to produce a fine powder, this powder forms the material to make the logo decals. The decals are then applied to the glassware individually by hand. The glass product is then put into a kiln and fired again at high temperature which melts the glass decal onto the surface forming a permanent white opaque image. We used this method to personalise glass objects. It produces a very similar effect to standard glass engraving but is slightly raised. This is the same process that is used to decorate PYREX glass dishes.
This method is used to personalise textile items such as polo shirts, caps, bags, socks, scarves, towels and handkerchiefs. Your logo design is scanned and /or redrawn and converted into a digital stitch file. The file is loaded via diskette or other media onto the computer controlled embroidery machine. This machine usually has between 2 and 15 heads or stations. Rigid frames are clamped onto the garments and these are fixed into position under each head of the machine. Each head has multiple threads on it. The machine runs the stitch file program and selects each thread colour in turn to embroider onto the garment.