Mugs that feature company logos and contact details
Screen Printing is the most commonly used method and has been around the longest. A mesh screen with a photosensitive coating is used. The image is produced photographically on positive film and this is placed on the photosensitive surface and is exposed to ultra violet light. The light bonds the coating to the mesh and the unexposed areas can be washed out. Ink is then forced through the mesh by means of a squeegee onto the product. This process is ideal for single colour designs particularly where large solids are involved. Metallic colours such as gold and silver can be used and pantone colours can be readily matched. Low set up costs make this an ideal process for short print runs.
Transfer Printing is a process that that was developed for use when it is not possible to print directly onto an object. The design is first printed onto a carrier sheet and is then transferred to the product using water or heat. This process enables more complex designs to be reproduced and allows branding on areas outside those of normal screen printing.
Dye Sublimation is the term used for the technique used on photo-mugs and produces a high quality photographic image which was not possible until very recently. Again the image is printed onto a carrier sheet using special inks and then transferred to the mug using sublimation (the ability of a solid to become a gas without going through a liquid state). Heat causes the inks to vaporise and pass into the surface of the mug which permanently dyes it. The mugs are then glazed creating a very hard wearing product. Set up costs are relatively low making this process suitable for long or short runs. If your design contains text that is reversed out of a solid colour you are advised to make it bold and at least 12 point in size as there can be a tendency for smaller text to fill in.
Etched Mugs are a fairly recent innovation where an image is sandblasted through the glaze or colour coating producing a recessed 3D effect image that allows the unglazed texture and colour to show through creating a very tactile finish. The exposed areas are rendered non-absorbent by sealing at high temperature.
I hope this article proves helpful to anyone thinking of using printed mugs who are unsure what the different printing terms mean. Most reputable web based suppliers such as http://www.printedmugs.co.uk will be only too pleased to provide further information and samples to assist your decisions.