Custom printed flash drives can be produced using different printing methods. The printing method applied will depend on factors such as the design, colors, material, desired effect, and timing. The printing methods below may overlap in their capabilities, but some are better suited for one method versus the other, may have different cost implications or the delivery schedule may dictate the best method (or perhaps only method) to use for the custom printing.
Custom printing methods
Screen printing uses “spot color” for printing. A screen is created with the image or logo you want to imprint on the flash drive cut out. Then, the color is applied over the screen, contacting your flash drive only where the shape of the image is cut into the scree. If the imprint has more colors, multiple screens will be created to place the color on the correct “spot.”
Pad printing, as the name implies, uses a pad with the image photographically imposed in reverse on it. The pad then presses or applies the image to the item. Pad printing can accommodate spot color or multi color imprinting. This is common application method for plastic items.
Digital printing is used for everything from one-color to full-color printing. As the name implies, this method sends the USB though a printer to apply the design. Just like your color printer, it can apply virtually any image (provide there is enough resolution), but unlike your color printer, it is designed for physical product and very high volume. While digital printing is capable of simple one color printing (making it good for rush jobs), it is more expensive to operate and usually reserved for more complicated images and full color or 4-color process printing.
The name says it… Laser Engraving. A design is loaded into a laser software and then the software controls the laser to “cut” or engrave the image into the item. Usually, applies to wooden or metal USBs, but can be used on other material with some limitations. The image cannot be removed or peeled, as it becomes part of the item.
Etching is actually a chemical process of ‘cutting’ the image into the glass item using acid. The non-chemical process may use an abrasive substance. Both methods remove small amounts of the glass, creating a frosted appearance in the shape of the logo or image.
The process for custom printed flash drives
Since the printing is custom, we have a multi step process to ensure the end product is what you expect.
- Initial design in Vector file format. If you don’t have a vector file for your artwork, we can help you create the file (additional fees may apply). The vector file ensures the image can scale without losing resolution.
- Virtual proof. Though a very basic step, it is critical to an efficient process. Once the artwork is decided upon and provide in vector file format, we will overlay this with an image of the product. This provides a good approximation of what the custom printed usb will look like. During this step, you will be able to determine if the image colors and dimensions work with the flash drive style and color you selected. Sometimes it looks different than imagined and we can easily make changes at this point.
- Pre-production proof. Once the virtual proof is approved, we will print the final image on an actual flash drive. We will have a photograph taken for final verification.
- Production will begin with your final image and product decision.
Custom printed flash drives often have a company logo that uses very specific colors. If this is the case, we use PMS Color matching. If you provide us with the PMS color code, we can ensure that is the color used in the custom print job.