Decorating Methods


Common Decorating Methods for Merchandise

Acid-Etching | Applique | Custom Lining | Discharge
DTG (Direct to Garment) | Embroidery | Flocking or “Flock Print” | Heat Transfer | Pad-Printing | Private Labeling | Plot Printing | Re-labeling | Sand-Blasting |
Screenprinting | Sublimation | Zipper-Pulls | Laser Etching | Debossing

Acid-Etching

Acid-Etching is a method which uses acid to etch into metal objects.

Appliqué

Applique is a process which used “cut-out” letters, numbers or other artwork which are then re-attached to clothing. Item’s such as varsity jackets are often decorated with applique.

Custom Lining

For goods with linings (such as some totes, jackets, etc.), sometimes the lining can be custom decorated with a company’s logo or artwork. Minimum order size requirements apply.

Discharge

A method of printing apparel in which chemicals are used to remove color. If, for example, a blue shirt is decorated via the discharge method, the area of the shirt that gets washed with discharge will become white, the underlying color of the shirt (prior to the shirt being dyed).

DTG (Direct to Garment, or Digital Printing)

An apparel decorating method in which digital printers are used to spray ink onto the surface of a garment or substrate. Designs with photographic-quality (i.e. many colors, many color gradients) are a good candidate for DTG.DTG is most effective on WHITE and lighter garments. DTG is most effective when using 100% cotton apparel.

Embroidery

Embroidery is also a very common decorating method. It involves sewing a logo or artwork onto a garment.

“Flex Print”

See Heat Transfer

Flocking or “Flock Print”

See Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer

Heat transfer is a decorating process whereby the use of a pre-printed design (typically on paper) is applied to a garment via heat and pressure. Heat transfer is also referred to as “Flex Print”. Flocking is a specialized transfer in which furry material, rhinestones and other surface embellishments are added. Plot printing is heat applied vinyl.

Laser-Etching

The use of a laser to burn art and images into products. Works well with wood and crystal.

Pad-Printing

Pad-printing is the most common decorating method for small, non-wearable goods such as pens, mugs, calculators, etc. Artwork is applied to a rubber pad which then strikes the object. Usually pad-printing is done one-color at a time, so multiple color artwork with tight “registration” (i.e. how close each graphic element is to each other) is difficult to achieve via pad-printing.

Private Labeling

Decorating method which is typically pre-construction on apparel (i.e. garments haven’t been fully assembled yet). As this process is pre-construction, a client’s own label can be sewn into the seams (i.e. integrated into the design).

Plot Printing

See Heat Transfer

Re-Labeling

Removing existing label on a garment and inserting a new one. Sometimes existing label is left on and new label is sewn over it.

Sand-Blasting

Highly-pressurized sand blasts designs onto products. Works best with glass.

Screenprinting

Screenprinting is the most common decorating method used to embellish apparel. It involves color-separating art onto individual screens which are used to apply colors, one at a time, to a garment. Screenprinting is best for spot-color decoration. Full-color graphics (i.e. photographic quality) can be achieved with screenprinting, but minimum order size and setup charges apply.
Pros: inexpensive.
Cons: full-color graphics are expensive via screenprinting. Print has a high “hand” or tactile feel on the surface of the garment.

Sublimation

Sublimation is, essentially, an advanced form of heat transfer. A design is printed onto a paper with pressure-sensitive ink and then applied to a garment.

Unlike heat-transfer, sublimated designs are actually absorbed into the fabric and do not remain on the surface of the fabric…meaning it won’t ever rub off, and you won’t feel anything if you run your hand on the surface of a garment which has been sublimated. Sublimation works best on goods with high polyester (or other synthetic fabric) content.

Zipper-Pulls

Custom fabricated zipper-pulls are attached to a garment. Usually minimum order size requirements apply.

Laser Etching

Laser etching is a process which is usually done on wood or metal products. It involves burning artwork into a piece by means of laser output. It is a permanent decoration as the etch is “in” the piece and cannot be rubbed off.

Debossing

Debossing is a process in which a logo is pressed down into material by means of a metal die. This process is usually done with leather goods and cardboard. A deboss without any colors added is called a blind deboss. A deboss with color fill is usually called a “foil stamp” or “heat stamp”.

Acid-Etching | Applique | Custom Lining | Discharge
DTG (Direct to Garment) | Embroidery | Flocking or “Flock Print” | Heat Transfer | Pad-Printing | Private Labeling | Plot Printing | Re-labeling | Sand-Blasting |
Screenprinting | Sublimation | Zipper-Pulls | | Laser Etching | Debossing