Printing Methods For Clothing and Promo Products & Which Suits Your Needs Best

You want to deck out your staff in new work uniforms or get your logo on some promotional pens, but don’t know where to start? We get it! There are so many different types of printing and branding methods on offer it can get confusing. So how do you choose?

We’ve put together a list of over 20 different printing methods available right here at Payless Promotions. We have also provided the pros and cons of each and when they are best suited. You can now make sure that your branding hits the mark and stands out from the crowd.


Popular on Clothing:

Embroidery, Screen Print, Digital Transfer and Direct to Garment


Popular on Promotional Products:

Pad Print, Laser Engrave, Wrap Screen Print and Sublimation

Jump straight to a printing method to learn more.

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Debossing

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Debossing & Ink Fill

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Digital Label

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Digital Print

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Digital Transfer

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Digital Wrap Print

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Direct to Garment

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Embroidery

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Imitation Etch

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Laser Engrave

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Mirror Finish

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Offset Printing

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Pad Print

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Resin Coated Finish

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Screen Print

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Sublimation Print (Clothing)

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Sublimation Print (Promotional Products)

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SupaColour

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SupaEtch

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SupaFlex

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SupaSub

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Wrap Screen Print

Colourflex

Colourflex is a type of transfer/sticker that is made from eco-friendly, water based inks and has a soft touch, matt finish.

Colourflex is only available from our New Zealand warehouse and products.

Advantages:
  • ldeal for producing full colour, complex images including photos
  • Durable and flexible for apparel that is machine washable
  • Only one set up charge is required regardless of the number of print colours
  • Can be shipped straight after being printed
Limitations:
  • Cannot produce metallic or neon/fluorescent colours
  • A thin, clear line of glue can sometimes be seen around the edges of the image
  • Unable to print variable data
Commonly used on:

T-Shirts | Tote Bags | Umbrellas

Colourflex

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Debossing

Debossing is the process of firmly pressing a heated custom metal plate onto the product, leaving an impression of your artwork. It leaves a stamped indentation of your artwork in the same colour as the product, or a two tone effect on certain products.

Advantages:
  • Gives a higher perceived value than other forms of branding
  • The branding becomes part of the product and is permanent
  • The product can be shipped as soon as heat pressing is finished
Limitations:
  • Unable to print variable data such as individual naming
  • Cannot produce photos
  • Design will be the colour of the product or a two tone colouring
Commonly used on:

Silicone Wristbands | Reusable Coffee Cups | Notebooks

Debossing

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Debossing & Ink Fill

Debossing is the process of firmly pressing a heated custom metal plate onto the product, leaving an impression of your artwork. It leaves a stamped indentation of your artwork which can then be filled with ink of any colour.

Advantages:
  • Gives a higher perceived value than other forms of branding
  • The indentation minimises the ink wearing off
Limitations:
  • Unable to print variable data such as individual naming
  • Cannot produce photos
  • Small or fine details may not be achievable
Commonly used on:

Silicone Wristbands

Debossing & Ink Fill

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Digital Label

Digital adhesive labels are used to brand products that cannot be branded with any other method. They are printed with a digital printing press and applied to the product like a sticker or label.

Advantages:
  • Ideal for producing vivid full colour images
  • Can print variable data including individual names
  • Only one set up charge is required regardless of the number of print colours
  • Edge-to-edge branding can be achieved
  • Can be cut to custom shapes
Limitations:
  • Metallic and neon/fluorescent colours cannot be produced
Commonly used on:

Hand Sanitiser | Confectionery | Lip Balm

Digital Label

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Digital Print

Direct digital print involves the transfer of ink directly from the print heads of an inkjet machine to the product.

Advantages:
  • Can be used on curved surfaces
  • Instant drying so products can be shipped immediately
  • Unlimited number of colours or gradients
Limitations:
  • Cannot produce metallic colours such as metallic gold or silver
  • The size of branding areas is limited, particularly on curved surfaces
  • Branding can sometimes appear grainy
Commonly used on:

Pens | Notebooks | USB Flash Drives

Digital Print

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Digital Transfers

Digital Transfers are printed onto durable vinyl and then heat pressed onto the garment or product. They have a sticker-like finish.

Advantages:
  • Unlimited number of colours or gradients
  • Multi-colour designs do not incur additional setup or per-item costs
  • Crisp branding reproduction is possible on textured fabrics
  • Can print full-colour photos
  • Able to produce individual names
  • Won’t crack or fade under normal circumstances
  • Equally suitable for garments and headwear
Limitations:
  • Cannot produce metallic colours such as metallic gold or silver
  • A thin, clear line of glue or a solid-coloured keyline can sometimes be seen around the edges of the branding
  • Cannot be used on polar fleece fabric
Commonly used on:

Bucket & Wide Brim Hats | Tote Bags | Jackets

Digital Transfers

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Digital Wrap Print

Direct to product digital wrap printing involves the transfer of UV ink directly from inkjet print heads and can be used to produce detailed full colour branding on curved products.

Advantages:
  • Ideal for large or complex full colour prints or photos
  • The print is dry and ready to ship as soon as the product is printed.
  • Only one setup charge is required regardless of the number of print colours.
  • No loss of print vibrancy, even on darker products
Limitations:
  • Cannot produce metallic and neon/fluorescent colours
  • As the print does not wrap completely around the product, there is a small gap between the start and end of the print
  • More expensive than other branding options
Commonly used on:

Plastic Drink Bottles | Metal Drink Bottles | Jackets

Digital Wrap Print

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Direct to Garment

The Direct to Garment method prints directly onto the garment using specialised inks. This method is priced by branding-size (120mmW x 120mmH, 254mmW x 254mmH and 350mmW x 380mmH). The larger your branding is, the more expensive it will be.

Advantages:
  • Can print photos
  • Multi-colour designs do not incur additional setup or per-item costs
  • Has a ‘screen-print like’ finish
  • Unlimited number of colours or gradients
Limitations:
  • Cannot be printed on 100% polyester garments
  • Branding can sometimes appear grainy
  • Cannot be used on headwear or polar fleece
Commonly used on:

Hoodies | Singlets | T-Shirts

Direct to Garment

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Embroidery

Embroidery uses thread and is priced by the number of stitches needed to produce your design. The smaller or less-detailed your branding, the fewer stitches are required, and your price will be lower. Embroidery is commonly used for pocket-sized branding on garments, hats or other textile items.

Advantages:
  • Multi-colour designs do not incur additional setup or per-item costs
  • Higher perceived-quality finish in the eyes of many
  • Able to produce individual names on garments
  • Metallic gold and silver threads are available
  • Equally suitable for garments & headwear
Limitations:
  • Cannot produce gradients
  • Cannot produce photos
  • Not suitable for fine detail, small text or thin fonts
Commonly used on:

Polo Shirts | Hats | Shirts

Embroidery

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Imitation Etch

Imitation etch is a special type of ink used for producing an etch-like effect on glass products.

Advantages:
  • Much more affordable than real etching
  • Can brand curved or uneven products
  • Produces a subtle finish with a higher perceived value that looks like etching
Limitations:
  • The size of branding areas is limited on curved surfaces
  • Requires a curing period before the product can be shipped
  • Unable to print variable data
Commonly used on:

Wine Glasses | Beer Glasses | Tumblers

Imitation Etch

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Laser Engrave

Laser Engraving etches away the outer surface of metal products to reveal the inner-layer. Sometimes the surface colour is a different colour to the inner metal that becomes exposed when etched. Your branding will show in the colour of the inner metal.

Advantages:
  • The branding becomes part of the surface and is permanent
  • Can be used on curved or uneven products
  • The product can be shipped as soon as the engraving is finished
  • Engraving increases the perceived value of items because of the professional finish
Limitations:
  • The size of branding areas is limited, especially on curved surfaces
  • Fine details can be lost on smaller products such as pens
  • Branding colour cannot be chosen as it is dependent on the inner material of the product
Commonly used on:

Metal Pens | Metal Keyrings | Metal Drink Bottles

Laser Engrave

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Mirror Finish

Certain products have a layer of mirror like material underneath the outside layer. Mirror Finish engraves into the product, removing the outside layer to reveal the mirror like material in the shape of your design.

Advantages:
  • Gives a higher perceived value than other forms of branding
  • The branding becomes part of the surface and is permanent
  • Can be used on curved or uneven products
  • The product can be shipped as soon as the engraving is finished
Limitations:
  • The size of branding areas is limited, especially on curved surfaces
  • Fine details can be lost on smaller products such as pens
  • Branding colour cannot be chosen
Commonly used on:

Travel Mugs | Pens | Drink Bottles

Mirror Finish

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Offset Printing

Offset printing is where the artwork is transferred from an inked plate onto the surface of the product. This method is used for paper products such as note pads, business cards and brochures.

Advantages:
  • Ideal for producing full colour, complex images including photos
  • Edge-to-edge branding can be achieved
Limitations:
  • Metallic and neon/fluorescent colours cannot be produced
Commonly used on:

Notepads | Magnets | Stickers

Offset Printing

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Pad Print

Pad Print uses ink and is priced by the number of colours in your design. For each colour in your branding, we make 1 plate (very much like a stencil). The fewer colours in your design, the fewer plates we need to make, and your price will be lower. Pad print is commonly used on small, non-flat products like golf balls, mugs or pens.

Advantages:
  • Ideal for printing on curved or uneven products
  • Branding can be any solid colour
  • Branding has clean, crisp edges
  • Metallic gold and silver inks are available
  • Close PMS (Pantone) matches are possible
Limitations:
  • A set up charge is required for each colour in your branding
  • Unable to print variable data
  • Cannot print photos
  • The size of branding areas is limited, especially on curved surfaces
  • Minor print distortion may occur on uneven or curved surfaces
  • Pad print inks require an overnight curing period before the product can be shipped which adds to lead time
Commonly used on:

Coffee Mugs | Powerbanks | Plastic Pens

Pad Print

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Resin Coated Finish

This CMYK branding process is produced by printing artwork onto a vinyl material with strong adhesive on the reverse. The branded area is then coated with a crystal-clear resin. Once dry, the finished decal is applied to the product and the adhesive forms a permanent bond.

Advantages:
  • Ideal for producing vivid full colour images or photos
  • Produces a stunning 3D effect that elevates the perceived value of a product
  • Can print variable data including individual names
  • Edge-to-edge branding can be achieved on the resin coated area
  • Only one set up charge is required regardless of the number of print colours
Limitations:
  • Larger print areas can be more expensive
  • Metallic and neon/fluorescent colours cannot be produced
  • The resin needs to be cured for one day before shipping the product
Commonly used on:

Metal Keyrings | Retractable Reels

Resin Coated Finish

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Screen Print

Screen Print uses ink and is priced by the number of colours in your design. For each colour in your branding, we make 1 screen (very much like a stencil). The fewer colours in your branding, the fewer stencils we need to make, and your price will be lower. Screen Print is commonly used for large designs with a single print colour.

Advantages:
  • Branding can be any solid colour
  • Large print area
  • Print has clean, crisp edges
  • Ideal for large solid areas of colour
  • Metallic gold and silver inks are available
  • Close PMS (Pantone) colour matches are possible
Limitations:
  • A set up charge is required for each colour in your branding
  • Unable to print variable data (eg. Individual names)
  • Cannot print photos
  • Cannot be used on headwear or polar-fleece
Commonly used on:

Hi Vis Polo Shirts | Bags | Hoodies

Screen Print

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Sublimation Print (Clothing)

Sublimation is the method of printing onto a roll of polyester fabric and then cut-and-sewing it together to create the finished garment.

Advantages:
  • Branding fills the whole garment and is fully customisable
  • Multi-colour designs do not incur additional setup or per-item costs
  • Ideal for sports team or club uniforms
  • Can print photos
  • Unlimited number of colours or gradients
  • Garments are custom-made for each order
Limitations:
  • Has a 5-6 week lead time
  • Cannot print metallic colours such as metallic gold or silver
  • Cannot print hi-vis
Commonly used on:

Sports Uniforms | Polo Shirts | Fishing Shirts

Sublimation Print (Clothing)

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Sublimation Print (Promotional Products)

Sublimation print uses heat to enable certain white products to be branded in full colour with a special dye that absorbs into the top layer of the product. Sublimation branding looks like a part of the product with no ink build-up.

Advantages:
  • The branding size typically fills a significant area on the product, and can reach from edge to edge on certain products
  • Can print photos
  • Unlimited number of colours or gradients
Limitations:
  • Can only be used on specially coated white products
  • Cannot print metallic colours such as metallic gold or silver
  • When printing large images some minor imperfections may appear in the branding or around the edges of it.
Commonly used on:

Stubby Holders | Coffee Mugs | Lanyards

Sublimation Print (Promotional Products)

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SupaColour

SupaColour is a robust sticker-like process that can be applied on coarse fabrics. It has a matte finish.

Advantages:
  • Unlimited number of colours or gradients
  • Can achieve small or fine details
  • Can produce photos
Limitations:
  • Cannot produce metallic colours such as metallic gold or silver
  • Only available on certain garments. Just ask our team about Supacolour and they will recommend what garments are best suited.
Commonly used on:

Cooler Bags | T-Shirts | Sports Bags

SupaColour

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Supaetch

The laser-etched suede patch is laser-cut then overlocked/stitched onto the product. Products like headwear, bags, blankets, beanies and scarves are suitable for SupaEtch.

Advantages:
  • 11 different suede colours available
  • Can choose the colour of the surrounding stitching thread
  • Gives a higher perceived value than other forms of branding
  • Stylish tone on tone look
Limitations:
  • Only available on certain products
  • Design will be a single colour
  • Branding colour cannot be chosen and is dependent on which colour suede is chosen
Commonly used on:

Caps | Jackets | Backpacks

Supaetch

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Supaflex

SupaFlex incorporates a printed design onto a patch, which is then stitched onto the product. The printed design is available in gloss or matte finish.

Advantages:
  • 9 different background colours available, all slightly textured
  • Ideal for producing vivid full colour images
  • Edge-to-edge branding can be achieved
  • Choice of gloss or matte finish
  • Patch can be any shape
  • Can choose the colour of the surrounding stitching thread
Limitations:
  • Only available on certain products
  • Cannot produce metallic or neon/fluorescent colours
  • Limited dimensions
Commonly used on:

Beanies | Sports Bags | Jackets

Supaflex

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Supasub

Supasub is the process of repeatedly printing your design onto polyester fabric and then cut-and sewing the printed design patches onto a garment or headwear with an overlocked border.

Advantages:
  • Can print photos
  • Unlimited number of colours or gradients
  • Multi-colour designs do not incur additional setup or per-item costs
  • Can be used on garments and headwear
  • Lightweight feel compared to embroidery
Limitations:
  • Can’t produce metallic colours such as metallic gold or silver
  • Small or fine details in artwork can be lost or appear slightly blurry
  • Only available on certain garments. Just ask our team about Supacolour and they will recommend what garments are best suited.
Commonly used on:

Towels | Satchel Bags | Bucket & Wide Brim Hats

Supasub

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Wrap Screen Print

Screen Print uses ink and is priced by the number of colours in your design. For each colour in your branding, we make 1 screen (very much like a stencil). The fewer colours in your branding, the fewer screens we need to make, and your price will be lower. Screen Print is commonly used for large designs with a single print colour.

Advantages:
  • Branding can be any solid colour
  • Large print area
  • Branding has clean, crisp edges
  • Ideal for large solid areas of colour
  • Metallic gold and silver inks are available
  • Close PMS (Pantone) matches are possible
Limitations:
  • A set up charge is required for each colour in your branding
  • Unable to print variable data
  • Can’t print photos
Commonly used on:

Coffee Mugs | Drink Bottles | Travel Mugs

Wrap Screen Print

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