Field Trip to the Promo Item Factory!
I talk a lot about imprinting promotional marketing products. I discuss size restrictions, numbers of colors, embroidery stitches, laser engraving, pad printing, transfer prints, reversing logos, print tolerances, four color process, CMYK, die cutting, sand etching… Clearly I can go on and on. Part of my job is to ensure that my customer is getting his or her logo printed properly on an item, so I need to know about the different processes to ensure that we get it right. I’ve known a lot about various decoration methods for a while, but I had never seen the imprinting process in action until we recently visited one of our preferred supplier’s factories! It was a Gossett Marketing field trip!
There are not too many suppliers imprinting promotional marketing items within easy driving distance from Coconut Grove, but fortunately Bullet is. Bullet carries really quintessential promotional products – think pens, stress relievers, letter openers, flashlights, tote bags, water bottles, and the like – so visiting their facility gave our team a great overview of various decoration methods.
Our beloved former inside sales rep Mike Sasario gave us the tour. He started us out in the screen printing room where we were shown logos being converted to the actual screen stencils through which ink presses to create an image on a bag. From there we went to watch bags actually being decorated. It’s actually more hands-on than I thought it would be because someone has to sit at a machine, align a bag on its own specially-sized holder, press a pedal, and then the ink is squeegeed on. The bags are put onto a conveyor belt that carries them through a dryer after which they are hand packed into boxes. Considering this is a supplier who recently turned 5,000 backpacks around for us in less than 24 hours, that seems like a lot of manual labor.
After bags, we toured the drinkware area, pens, and then my favorite – laser engraving. I have items laser engraved quite regularly, but I never thought about how it actually happens. Well, just like it sounds, a laser beam physically carves a logo into an item. It was really fast and quite cool to watch: like mini lightsabers etching metal.
We made a few more stops to see how multicolored imprints are created. This can be very labor intensive in the case of printed transfer graphics (like a souped-up version of iron-on decals for a t-shirt). A little less so if something is pad printed. And fairly simple if a particular product is able to go through a printer that can mark it with a special UV ink.
Our last stop was to the sample room where we loaded up on the items that our customers will love in our supplier’s freshest colors.
Our field trip was a blast and we definitely learned a lot about the items that they sell. My only disappointment? That there was not a conveyor belt filled with chocolate like in the YouTube clip from I Love Lucy below!