Decoration Methods that We Offer

Confused by all the decoration terminology? Get a crash course on the benefits and drawbacks of our commonly used imprint methods

Maggie Johnson avatar
Written by Maggie Johnson
Updated over a week ago

What we'll cover:

  • Debossing

  • Screenprint

  • Heat Transfer

  • Embroidery

  • Laser Engraving

  • Direct to Garment


Debossing is a depressed imprint of the image on a good and is ideal for leather or faux leather goods, padfolios, journals, luggage tags etc.


  • Adds higher perceived value for your recipients

  • Creates dimensional depth and detail

  • Logo lasts longer than other methods that might rub off


  • Small text or highly detailed designs do not work well

  • You must be okay with a tonal (no color) logo


Involves the transfer of ink through a mesh screen using a stencil. This is one of the most commonly used techniques for decorating custom items in the promotional products industry. Screenprinting works well with a number of different items such as soft fabric products, like t-shirts and tote bags as well as hard surfaces like tumblers and pens.


  • Cost-effective

  • Wide variety of designs and colors can be screen printed

  • Ink is applied thicker than digital printing, making the design more vibrant


  • Not ideal/cost effective for smaller order sizes

  • Prices increase with a higher number of colors

Heat Transfer

Heat transfer uses high temperatures to transfer your custom design onto fabric


  • Minimal set up costs and equipment make heat transfers ideal for smaller orders

  • Allows for finer details and smaller text than embroidery or screenprint


  • Logos/designs larger than 15 inches tend to be more expensive than other methods

  • The printed area is not very breathable and can feel like a decal or sticker applied to the surface

  • Unable to use iron on printed area of the garment

  • Cannot be done on certain synthetic materials that can’t be exposed to high heat


Embroidery is a sewn image on a product for a clear, classic look. Embroidered logos typically look best on jackets, woven shirts, headwear, bags, blankets, and higher-end apparel.


  • Added texture to the design

  • Evokes higher perceived value

  • More durable and resistant to damage from washing


  • A limited number of colors and color options

  • You'll need to be ok with differences in color as we cannot exact PMS match embroidery thread

  • Machines can struggle with small lettering or fine details (need simplified artwork)

Laser Engraving

A method of decoration whereby a laser removes a thin layer of fiber or pigment dye. By adjusting the intensity and speed of the laser we can sculpt dimension into the design, resulting in stunning clarity and precision. Ideal for use on metal or wood items such as pens, drinkware, tools, some electronics, higher end gifts like watches and money clips


  • Cost effective

  • Time efficient

  • Durable, does not wear off or wash off in the dishwasher

  • Adds higher perceived value


  • Limited materials – typically only performed on metal or wood surfaces

Direct to Garment (also known as Digital Printing or Full Color)

Full Color, otherwise known as Digital printing, or direct to garment printing (DTG), is a similar process to printing a document from your computer. An image is created with no restraints to the number of colors or type of artwork used, and the image is printed or affixed directly onto the material.

The imprint method is ideal for Logos that require a high amount of detail, logos that contain a gradient, and can be used on certain hard goods like notebooks, drinkware, and apparel.

Please note that all insert cards and stickers through SwagUp will be DTG


  • Easier set up than screen printing

  • Ability to print more details and a broader range of colors

  • Great for smaller order sizes


  • Typically more expensive

  • Certain machines can only print on 100% cotton fabric

  • Process is slower than screen printing for large orders

  • Machines can struggle printing on dark fabrics

  • Full color uses Hex Codes instead of PMS colors so the colors will have a degree of variation

Curious about other types of imprint methods such as Foil Stamping, Custom Patches, Pad Printing and more? You can reach out to your account executive to see what options are available.

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