Understanding the Logo Imprinting Process

Imprinted logos help companies make their products distinct from those produced by other firms. They can even be used for brand marketing. So how do these images get from the computer onto hook and loop products?

An industrial logo imprinting machine.

Preparing to Imprint

The first step is for the customer to provide us an image file for the logo or text they wish to have imprinted. This is typically an image file like a .pdf or .jpg, but can also just be a string of text in the desired font.

Next, we size the logo to fit on our printing plate and mock up the layout. High-resolution images are best because they can then be resized and touched up to match the physical constraints of the hook and loop items that will eventually feature them. We send a copy of the plate to the customer so they can approve the physical size and appearance of the logo. We can print within a nearly 2" x 3" area in a single color of ink.

After the artwork is resized, the client gets a chance to approve it. Although this process is usually fairly straightforward, the dimensions of the final product may necessitate a change in the way the logo is oriented or displayed.

The logo imprinting process begins with making a cliché. These thin metal sheets use light to carve out the logo, creating a well that ink can then sit in. A positive film copy of the approved image is printed onto a transparency sheet; this blocks the areas that are to be printed. After being coated in an etching chemical that responds to light, the plate is exposed while the transparency rests between it and the light source. The areas that were left bare on the transparency allow light to pass through to the metal plate. As a result, an exact negative image replica is left on the cliché.

Ink Printing

A completed cliché can be used to create tens of thousands of impressions. After being placed into a special high-volume printer, a metal cup full of ink is inverted onto the image plate. Because this cup has a magnetic lip, it creates a perfect seal. It can subsequently be moved back and forth to fill the empty spaces on the cliché, which correspond to the logo artwork, with a thin layer of ink.

Of course, the printer and magnetic cup aren't the only special components in this process. The ink itself is formulated to become sticky upon contact with air. When a smooth silicone transfer pad presses down briefly and rises again, the ink comes with it, leaving a clean cliché in its wake ready for more printing.

As the cup reloads the cliché with ink for the next copy, the silicone pad presses the logo down onto the hook and loop material, where it dries almost instantly. Then, the material is cut to the desired shape even as the process repeats itself and more copies are made. Although the procedure seems complex, automation and specialized machinery ensure that thousands of perfectly identical copies can be produced in rapid order.


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