I have worked at InkHead as an Account Manager a little over eight years and the demand for multiple color imprints with a quick turnaround time and low minimums has always been the norm. When I first started out we had full color printing options for a limited product selection, but they could take anywhere from three weeks to over a month to produce the item as it had to be sent overseas for a custom print. As the years have progressed the full color printing options have increased, prices have dropped and the turnaround times have decreased. 2016 looks to be the best year yet for full color options.
InkHead, along with other distributors in our industry, have begged our suppliers each year for more full color product options with faster turnaround times and it seems our pleading has finally paid off. Over the last few years many of our manufacturers have invested in offering full color heat transfer options and new digital printing technology to better provide our customers with the printing solutions they require.
Bag Makers and AakronLine were a couple of the first promotional product suppliers to begin offering full color printing. Bag Makers uses their Color Vista 4-color (CMYK) heat transfer process which allows them to offer the multiple color imprinting and tight registrations that their silk screen printing option could not offer. While Bag Makers specializes in bags, AAkron Line was able to offer full color printing on many different product types. They were able to print on hard goods with a flat service and even some select pens and water bottles. This was a huge turnaround in the industry and many of our other suppliers took note. Vendors like Leeds, Bullet, Hit, Norwood, JetLine, Prime Line, Gemline, and Starline (to name a few) have recently made advances in full color digital printing on hard goods making competition fierce and bringing us a quicker and more cost effective way to print multiple color logos.
Full color heat transfers have been the go to in the industry for many years. The heat transfer is a process in which your image is printed on a sheet of fusible material and the applied to the item. The heat required to transfer the artwork meant this method worked best on cloth materials, like bags and apparel, not hard goods, so the industry was limited on what we could offer. Digital printing, however, allows our manufacturer to print the logo directly on the item, similar to a home printer on a much larger scale. The digital printing process is less difficult, makes for a quicker turnaround and lowers costs.
Starline, for 2016, has brought us TruColor, their new patent-pending direct digital printing process. They allow full color printing with a reasonable set-up charge of $55, no run charge for the standard imprint area, catalog minimums, and 3-5 day production time. While having a quick turnaround time is important, the two most significant changes differentiating them from their competition are that they do not require a run charge and that catalog minimum does not increase to accommodate a full color imprint. These are two aspects of a full color order that have historically caused a customer to rethink their order. The TruColor Direct Digital Printing Process is truly the next generation of full color printing and we at InkHead believe eventually this will become the standard across our industry.