Common Industry Terms

What is embossing? What is sublimation? See the glossary below of commonly used industry terms.

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4-Color Process

A color image is separated into 4 different color values using filters and screens (usually digital). The result is a color separation of 4 images. 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 just as your computer printer does.



Screen printing an image and debossing it onto a surface.



Artwork is produced on a transparent decal and applied to the product.



Injecting molten metal into the cavity of a carved die (or a mold).



Production of emblems and other flat promotional products by striking a blank metal sheet with a hammer that holds the die.



An image is impressed in to achieve a raised surface.



A design is stitched into fabric through the use of high-speed, computer-controlled sewing machines. Artwork must first be "digitized” (the specialized process of converting two-dimensional artwork into stitches or thread). Certain formats 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 then 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.



A process in which an item is covered with a protective coating that resists acid to create the artwork. This leaves a bare surface and a protected surface. It is then exposed to acid. The acid attacks only the exposed surface leaving the image etched onto the surface.


Hot Stamp

Setting a design on a metal relief die or plate, which is then heated and pressed onto the printed surface to achieve a deboss.


Laser (Engraving)

Art or lettering is cut into a material by a laser beam that vaporizes the portion exposed through openings in a template.


Laser or Foil Stamp

Applying metallic or colored foil imprints to vinyl, leather or paper surfaces. Usually used on a deboss.


Offset Printing

The transfer of ink from a metal printing plate to a rubber-covered cylinder is used on more complex artwork and for higher quantity runs.


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.


Screen Printing & Silk-Screening

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. You must create a different screen for every color you are going to print and screen each color separately allowing drying time in between.



Dye transfer process where the image consists of a colored dye permanently embedded into the pores of the material surface. Used to imprint messages, graphics and photographs on a variety of items, primarily mouse pads, mugs, T-shirts, caps and trophy medals.