What is Screen Printing?
Screen printing is probably the most common method of personalising our product ranges. It is used for printing solid blocks of colour, also known a spot colours. It is not suitable for photographic images or artwork that has gradients of colour.
A screen is a frame with a precision woven mesh stretched over it drum tight. The screen is coated with a photo-sensitive emulsion and your image is burned onto it with an ultra violet light. Screen printing inks are then placed into the frame and the ink is pushed through the burned image with a squeegee to replicate the design onto the product of your choice. Each colour is printed one after the other, so the more you print, the greater the cost.
In theory there is no limit to the number of colours you can print, although with some artwork on some products there can be difficulty aligning the different colours properly. This is called registration.
Here is a simple You Tube guide to what screen printing involves.
What is Engraving?
This type of marking process is produced by using a diamond type tool, laser or sand-blasting to mark/etch into the material to reproduce your design. This leaves a permanent design on the product.
Typically diamond engraving is used on metal and sand-blasting on glass or crystal. Laser etching can be used on a far wider array of materials - leather, plastic, wood or even clothing material.
What is Blocking?
Blocking is referred to by many names: A few are embossing, gold blocking, foil blocking etc.
The print method is a combination of heat and pressure applied via a block or die bearing your design onto a material such as leather or PU (a kind of faux leather). If just the block is used it is called blind embossing or debossing and leaves an impression of the design in the material. If a coloured foil is used at the same time, the design bears the colour of the foil and there are many different colours of foil to choose from.
This method of printing is used on conference folders, diaries etc. It is not usually suitable for multicolour printing or designs with very fine detail, although it is possible to use two or more foil colours on the same item as long as they do not overlap or the alignment is not too difficult.
What is pad printing?
Like screen printing, pad printing is used for printing solid blocks of colour (spot colours) and each colour is printed in turn. More colours equals greater expense.
Pad printing is commonly used to print on objects with a curved surface or into areas too small to allow access for other method of printing. The 'pad' is actually more like a soft stamp that is pressed into a well of ink (in the shape of your design) and then stamps the ink onto the surface of the target object.
What can I get in a hurry?
If you are in a hurry, there are still options open to you. Your choice of printing will be more limited depending on the print method, but you won't go empty handed! Please allow 1 day for delivery on the times indicated below.
- 1-2 days
- A selection of pens printed in 1 colour.
- Awards & Trophies
- 2-4 days
- Pens printed in 2 colours (full colour on very selected items)
- Mugs printed in 1 or 2 colours.
- Pots of sweets with full colour domed etiquette
- 5-7 days
All of the above, plus:
The above list is by no means exhaustive!
What are standard leadtimes?
Most items have standard lead times associated with them - usually anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks. Some items take longer, some are available more quickly. It depends on several factors - where the stock is held, the manufacturer, the production load at the time, the print process etc.
Nothing is set in stone, however. If you ask and there is production capacity available, we will do it quicker. Please note that all lead times quoted start from the moment you sign off the proof, not from when you place an order.
How long does it take to order stuff from the Far East?
The answer depends on the mode of transport.
If what you are ordering comes by air, then standard lead times will be the same as in the UK - 3 to 4 weeks.
But if the objective is to keep the cost to a minimum and the order is large, it would be worth transporting the goods by ship. This will add about a month to the production time.
What is the process for bespoke products?
Firstly, let us say that Promobox has plenty of experience helping our customerss create & produce bespoke products. These have ranged from custom bags for the English and Welsh BookTrusts, Soft Toy branding characters for Cartridge World UK and Cartridge World Australia, Stress Dalmations for PetPlan, bespoke clothing for a variety of companies and a host of others besides. While it is not a difficult process, there are many potential pitfalls, but we ensure you avoid all of these.
Firstly you need to be clear about what the project entails. The downside of bespoke manufacture is often, though not always:
- longer lead times.
- higher (but not prohibitive) volumes.
- up front payment or part payment.
On the plus side you end up with a product that really helps build your visual identity and sets you apart from everyone else.
Every bespoke project has at least phases:
- Concept to Design.
- Prototype production and sign-off.
- Manufacture and shipping. The lead time will vary from project to project but 12-16 weeks is not untypical.
Dialogue is key
We can help you through all of these processes, but it is useful to engage us at the earliest stage. Even if you have your own designers or want to design your own product, we may be able to make practical suggestions or observations based on many years' experience that will facilitate and simplify the manufacturing process.
If you have a clear idea of what you want to end up with but have no design flair or simply don't know how to go about things, we can certainly help. Depending on the product, we may be able to produce prototypes for your consideration, but if not then certainly drawings.
Seeing is believing
Once you are happy with the paper designs or initial prototypes you will need to commit to the next phase. A pre-production sample is produced that gives you the first chance to see and feel the final product. Changes at this stage can always be made, though it is likely that doing so will incur some cost as the mould or cutting tool will need adapting or replacing. But better that that ending up with a product you don't like! Needless to say, if you get the design phase right, there should be no need to make any changes at all.
Patience is a virtue
Once the pre-production sample has been signed off, the wait begins! Depending on volumes and requirements, the production process may take anything from 2 to 12 weeks or more. Shipping from the Far East is typically 30 days from port to port, perhaps 35 days from the factory to your door. We keep you posted at every stage so that you can plan to start using your products as soon as they arrive.
How do I order?
Ordering is easy, having identified the product or products you wish to purchase. Please then complete the "Add a Quote" button at the relevant product send this to us and we will forward the relevant prices, payment details, and estimated delivery date.
Our Clear Pricing Policy means that we will always quote you a single price for each item/quantity that includes any print, set up charges and delivery. What you see is what you pay - there are no hidden extras!
N.B. IF YOUR ORGANISATION REQUIRES YOU TO PROVIDE A PURCHASE ORDER IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE THIS BEFORE THE ORDER IS PROCESSED.
Overs and Unders - what's that all about?
'Overs and unders' is an industry term, usually applied to lower value items such as pens, that means that though you order 1000 pens, you may actually get slightly over or under that amount - for example, 996 or 1013!
The reason for this is quite simple. When printing, say, 1000 pens in 2 colours, we know some of them will be spoiled and rejected. So we pick 1100 pens from the warehouse, print them all and count the good ones. That is the amount delivered and invoiced.
It is possible to produce an exact number but it costs more as it is more time consuming. Why? Well, we would still pick 1100 pens and print 1000. We would stop the machine, count the good ones - let's say 960. We would load 40 more pens, print, inspect and count. If we are 3 short, we would start the machine to print just 3 more. If these are successful, we would have 57 pens left unprinted and would have to return these to stock.
It is far simpler to have an 'overs and unders' policy, but if your project requires an exact amount, be sure to specify this at the time of ordering.
What format should the artwork be in?
It depends what you are trying to do!
If you don't need to understand the different types of artwork but just need an instruction to give your designer, more times than not we require an Illustrator vector graphic (version CS5 or earlier) saved as an EPS file or editable PDF with any text save to outlines.
If you want to understand more, there are essentially 2 types of artwork that we deal with: Pixel-based Graphics and Vector Graphics.
A Pixel-based Graphic (JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP file) is made up of many different squares (pixels) of colour like a digital photo. The more pixels there are, the higher the resolution and the quality. For good quality print, you really need a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch). Anything less than that may cause the image to look a bit jagged around the edges.
A Vector Graphic (EPS File) is an image that has been created mathematically - ie the area between these 3 points on a graph is all red, between those 5 points is all blue etc.
The deciding factor is what print method we are using. Thus:
- If we are printing digitally or litho printing, we can use artwork comprising Pixel or Vector Graphics or even a mix of both. The important thing is that the resolution should be good enough.
- If we are engraving, screen printing or similar, we need a Vector Graphic. Typically this would apply to material, plastic or metal objects and would require solid colours with pantone references for each colour. Tints and gradients of colour don't really work with these methods.
- If we are embroidering onto clothing, we can take anything from proper artwork to a scanned comp slip or a drawing on the back of a fag packet! The artwork has to be recreated as an embroidery template anyway.
What if I don't have an account with you?
We offer 3 methods of payment:
If you are making a one-off purchase and don't feel the need to set up an account, you can pay in advance.
- Credit Card
Again mostly for one-off purchases and payable at the time of order, but at least you get a period of time before the money actually leaves your account. For the use of credit card there is a 2.5% surcharge.
- 30-day Credit Account
We can set you up an account in minutes, subject to the usual credit checks. We send you an emailed link to a form, most of which is already filled in and just you complete the final few details and specify the level of credit you want. Once complete, you are free to order and will receive our invoice once the goods have been delivered. You will then have 30 days to pay before we unleash the Rottweilers!
If we goof, we pay!
In every walk of like things can go wrong. Naturally, we are not exempt from that. We do all we can to avoid disasters in the first place, but when the worst happens, we feel it is incumbent on us not just to put it right, but to compensate our customers for any inconvenience. So when we say 'if we goof, we pay' we mean just that!
But let us be quite clear what we mean:
- If the print and some or all of the products we supply are not up to your reasonable expectations, we will replace the faulty ones free of charge. That goes without saying (but we said it anyway!). But we go further than that...
- If, when ordering, you have told us that the goods are required by a particular date, by accepting your order we also take full responsibility for your deadline. So if for whatever reason we fail to deliver by the date or time required, we will still deliver the goods, albeit late, but we just won't charge you for them!
Now we can't say fairer than that, can we?
Clear Pricing Policy
Pricing of promotional items generally consists of 4 or more elements:
- The set up or origination cost.
Many companies will quote you a unit price that looks quite cheap, but then leaves you to work out the real cost by adding all the extras in.
Our Clear Pricing Policy means that we will always quote you a single price for each item/quantity that includes print, set up charges and delivery. What you see is what you pay - there are no hidden extras!
Moreover, if we make a mistake in our pricing, we will either correct it and give you the better price (no need to ask) or we will honour the price quoted if it is cheaper than it should have been!
Promobox is a member of both the European PSI (Promotional Services Institute) and the BPMA (The British Promotional Merchandise Association). We are also a member of our local Chamber of Commerce.
These do not comprise promises as such, but our affiliations are voluntary and indicate our commitment to upholding the highest standards of our industry.
What are your response times?
We understand that no-one likes to be kept waiting so when you make an enquiry of Promobox, we will respond quickly.
At the very latest we will get back to you with an initial acknowledgement of your enquiry and any questions relating to it within half a day. We will always aim to come back to you with a quote within 24 hours, if possible. If this is not possible (for example, we may need to get an up-to-date price from one of our factories overseas which may be close for a holiday) we will advise you on the progress of your enquiry and when you are likely to get an answer.
More often than not it will be sooner, but these are our minimum undertakings. As always, if you need information quicker still, talk to us. We will make every effort to meet your deadline if we can.
For larger customers with two or more sites, we can offer a full service comprising:
- Stock holding.
We can hold stock for you and then pack and dispatch to different locations around the country, or indeed the world as required.
- On-line customer specific order and call-off system.
Our Customer Stock Management System is an on-line portal to your stock of promotional products. You have your own administrative rights to set up/cancel users and allow your staff to order when required, restrict them to approved products only.
- On-line Reporting
At any time you can and report on your users'activity for charge-back (if required). You can also interrogate stock levels at any time.