Everything you must know about the set up process

If there is one question I get asked more than anything after sending a client a proposal, it would have to be: What’s the set up? 

I thought I would write a blog here to explain a little bit more about what’s involved in creating your beautiful branded merchandise, and why there is a set up charge on most items, why different items might have different set up costs, and why there might be repeat set up costs. 

A set up charge is the cost of preparing the equipment needed to put your artwork on a product. This cost is associated with the creation of a die, plate, screen, or other fixture that is used in our machines to print your logo on your desired item. 

This is why you might find a set up charge for each product – because often each product requires a different machine, logo size or decoration method in order to apply the logo.

When printing a logo on t-shirts or other fabric materials, screen printing is often the process used. This involves creating a custom mesh stencil of your logo then pushing ink through the mesh screen to create the imprint on the item. 

The set up charge for screen printing involves the cost of the physical screen, the emulsion used on the screen, exposing the emulsion to harden and develop, and then testing the screen to be sure it’s working properly before running your order! Screen printing usually has a repeat set up charge, because even if the screen is kept on file, the emulsion typically has to be reapplied and screens retested. 

Check out this step by step process on creating a screen for screen printing here!

The set up charge for embroidery involves turning your logo into a DST file. This is done using a specific software program than converts your logo into threads for embroidery. Essentially it “maps out” the stitching needed to recreate your logo. This file is then sent to the embroidery machines to read and embroider the logo accordingly. The sets up costs can vary depending on the complexity and size of the logo, however once the logo is set up, there are no more repeat charges (unless changes to the file need to be made).

Pad Printing is a very common form of printing on hard goods. The set up for pad printing comes a lot from the labour it takes to mix the inks, creating the custom plates (known as cliché’s), loading the ink into the equipment and running test prints. The custom plate is what holds the ink that the pad used to “pick up” the print and them press onto the item being imprinted. Setting up a one colour print logo can take 30-50 minutes! 

Typically, the plates are kept on hand for 1-2 years so repeat set ups are less, but the labour and time involved to set up again still remain for repeat orders. Check out this step by step process of the pad printing set up here!

When you are laser engraving a logo onto an item, the set up is also associated with the labour involved to load the file into the program, and correctly position the items into the exact spot for the laser engraver to “burn” the logo into the item. There are quite a few different types of laser engraving processes, which is why set ups can vary, and it can vary depending on the complexity of the item (flat vs curved, metal vs wood, etc).

Debossing and embossing can have a higher set up, and this is due to the fact that to create a debossed logo, we are creating a custom metal die out of your logo that is then pressed into the item. Therefore, the set up costs go into the labour, technology and raw materials required to create the custom die to press into the item and testing to ensure the die presses correctly. Set up costs can vary depending on the materials of the items and sizing of the logo.

Let us know how we can help!

If you are still wondering about set up charges, please feel free to reach out to us and we are happy to explain any additional charges further!

Author of this post:
Lisa Evenden
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