How Are Promotional Products Printed?

How Promotional Products Are Imprinted, Engraved & More
Scott Kalapos on Aug 20, 2021

When shopping for promotional products for your business, organization, or event, customization is key. Branding your items with a business name, company logo, or contact information provides audience members with a valuable gift while ensuring your company stays on their minds.

As you browse our inventory, you’ll come across a variety of ways to print your information on your promotional products. It’s helpful to understand what these methods are and on which products they work best. While some options are great for apparel, they're not such a great fit for custom mugs or personalized water bottles. In fact, some personalization methods are flat out impossible on certain items. For example, if one tries to engrave their logo into a custom golf towel, it's not going to end well.

To help provide some perspective on this topic, we’ve created a guide concerning the most popular ways to imprint a promotional product. Read on to become an imprinting expert!

Screen Printing

If your business is looking for custom tote bags or t-shirts, screen printing is one of the best paths to take. This process is incredibly common and involves far shorter production times as compared to most other options. This is especially true for bulk orders.

Also known as silk screen printing or silk screening, this method involves a stencil and a special nylon mesh material. Negative space in the design is blocked by a waterproof material. Then, the area is flooded with ink, creating the desired design.

This method is commonly used on fabrics. However other items such as wood, metal, plastic, and glass can also be screen printed. The biggest downside to screen printing is that it is not suitable for highly complex designs. While multicolor images can be produced via screen printing, it does add to both the cost and production time.

Custom Screen Printed Tote Bags with Logos

Full Color Printing

Anyone who has printed a photo using a home or office computer has experienced full color printing. This is where all of the colors of a design are printed directly onto the item at the same time. This isn't just limited to paper and traditional printers though. Many different materials can be decorated via full color printing. There's a key difference between a full-color printer and an office style printer. Commercial style full color printers are massive and can print multiple items simultaneously.

4AllPromos offers numerous products with an option for full-color printing. For example, our full color cork coasters are decorated with photographic quality images in full, rich, and colorful designs.

Full Color Imprinted Cork Coasters


Unlike basic printing, debossing makes it possible to imprint a specific design on an item by creating a depression in the texture. It’s similar to embossing, with a few key differences. The biggest variation between the two is that debossing creates a logo image that's pressed into the top of the product, whereas embossing creates a three-dimensional design that sticks out from the top by way of pushing from the bottom.

At 4AllPromos, we typically use debossing on products such as our custom leather journals, promotional coasters, and anything with a leather tag or element.

Personalized Journal Debossed with Logo

Dye Sublimation

The dye sublimation process uses high heat to transfer ink onto a material. The result is a complete transfer of an image to the fabric, no matter how intricate or detailed it is. Most print houses consider dye sublimation to be the preferred method for digital printing.

If your business is looking for promotional products that look like a photo or graphic design piece, you’ll want to search through our inventory for those that mention dye sublimation. For example, we offer face masks, banners & pennants, trade show table covers, event tents, lanyards, socks, and even shoelaces that can be customized using this method.

Full Color Dye Sublimation Table Covers with Logo

Pad Printing

Have you ever wondered how one is able to imprint a logo designs custom mugs? It's usually achieved by way of pad printing. Pad printing is a special process that makes it possible to print a two-dimensional image on the side of a three-dimensional object.

Essentially, pad printing involves making a giant rubber pad of the design and stamping it onto the object. We often use this process for uniquely shaped items like stress balls, plastic boxes, fly swatters, and many others.

Custom Mugs with Pad Printed Logos

Laser Engraving

For luxe or high-end items, laser engraving is often the preferred branding method. This process consists of a concentrated beam of light moving through a computerized system, acting as a chisel on the surface of the item. As the material is moved away, the design is created. Much of the popularity of this method comes from the fact that the designs it creates won't ever wear off or fade, as they are permanently etched into the piece.

This printing method works for numerous materials, including wood, metal, cork, and some plastics. Examples of products that are often laser engraved include personalized kitchen knives, coasters, kitchen cutting boards, and customized pens.

Personalized Laser Engraved Knives


When thinking about embroidery, an image of someone meticulously moving a needle and thread likely comes to mind. While this is accurate when speaking of embroidery in the traditional sense, it often works a bit differently within the promotional product industry. Though the process still involves stitching a design into a fabric with colored thread, the execution is vastly different when performed on a commercial level scale.

Embroidery for custom products involves a large machine that makes it possible to sew designs automatically on multiple pieces at once. This allows us to add your logo or message to things like polo shirts, hats, and many other promotional apparel items.

Custom Embroidered Hunting Caps

Which is the best method for imprinting promotional products?

Deciding on the right printing method for your needs usually comes down to two elements: your budget and the item itself. A third factor to consider is your idea for the design and what colors and/or textures will suit it best.

While we’ve already covered that certain materials are better for specific types of printing, it’s also essential to know that more intricate methods cost more for bulk items. If your business is operating on a limited budget or has a massive order to place, then it might be best to choose a more basic printing style.

At 4AllPromos, we include the logo branding method in each product description to help provide an idea of what to expect. This also helps to narrow down product choices to those that can be decorated via a specific preferred printing method.

Why Choose 4AllPromos for All of Your Custom Printing Needs?

Whether you’re searching for custom pens or bulk stainless-steel tumblers, 4AllPromos has the best items for promoting your business. We hope this guide has given you some insight into how promotional products are printed. We can’t wait to put it to work when we talk to you about your next project!

Still unsure which product personalization process is the best fit for your promotions? We would love to help you by answering your questions or offering ideas. Please contact us today for more information.

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