Imprinting Basics

The ordering and cost estimating process for custom imprinted products may appear somewhat complicated, however it's actually pretty straight forward. The basic costs involved with manufacturing your imprinted promotional products are as follows:

  • Blank products or the base cost of the items
  • Imprinting setup costs
  • Imprinting run charges / production costs


Blank Polo ShirtBlank Products or Base Cost of Items - The first thing you will likely decide is what products you are interested in imprinting. When you search through our vast product database the prices that are returned to you are the costs for blank products. Often this price also includes the run charges for a single color in a single imprint location ( See more about that in the section on Run Charges.) The cost of the blank products is easy to understand and prices are usually shown clearly on each product page. If for some reason prices are not immediately available for a certain item, simply call us for a quote.


Imprinting is the key variable in the cost of producing your promotional products. Factors that can affect the final cost are the number of colors used in your logo, the imprint area size, the number of areas in which your logo is imprinted and the actual method of imprinting used to produce the final product.

Imprint Setup Costs - Before your products can be imprinted with your logo, the factory must produce certain screens, molds, plates, tapes or masters that they will use to produce your products. These costs are generally fixed and are the same regardless of the size of your order.

For screen-printed items with multiple colors this involves separate screens for each color. For embroidered items, one tape charge is all that is required regardless of the number of thread colors used. Each position also requires a setup charge. For example a T-shirt printed with a 2 color logo on the front and a 2 color message on the back would require 4 screen setup charges.

Setup costs can often be avoided on exact repeat orders of the same product as screens and plates are usually kept for up to 2 years from the date of the original order.

There are other imprint methods with somewhat different setup requirements but the key to remember is that these are fixed costs which are necessary in order for the factory to run production on your items. Think if this as the mold that all of your products are made from. You still generally only need one "mold" whether you make 1 item or whether you make 100,000 of them.

Imprinting Run Charges / Production Costs - These charges Blank Polo Shirtrelate to the actual production of your items and include all of the costs associated with actually imprinting your logo onto the products you have chosen. Like the setup charges, run charges for screen printed items usually increase for each color or imprint location. This is because each color and imprint position has to be applied separately. Unlike setup charges, run charges are based on the number of items imprinted. Obviously larger numbers of imprinted products require more factory production time, human artwork and materials. These charges are added on a per item basis and are discounted at higher volumes. For example a coffee mug that is normally 3.49 each with a one color imprint may cost 4.29 each with a 2 color imprint and 4.99 each with a 3 color imprint.

Other Charges - Other charges may apply for exceptional situations such as where you need an item in hand in less time than normal factory production. The factory can often rush your products through, although with an additional rush charge added. The last cost in the equation is delivery charges. Again if ordered well in advance, shipping will not be much of a factor but if you wait until the last minute you may have to pay expedited charges to get your products to you on time. 

SUMMARY:  Blank Products + Artwork Setup + Imprinting Charges = Final Imprinted Product Cost

Call us at (508) 759-4848 or contact us today for help in getting your promotional products ready for your next event or promotion!