What Are Promotional Product Set-up Charges

One question I get asked several times each month is, “Why are there set-up charges?” I thought now might be a good time to explain what is involved in setting up each imprint job on a promotional product, and why there is a charge called a ‘set-up fee.’ 


Are you ready to learn something new?  Here we go!


A Blank Slate

All promotional products start out as blank products – a pen with no markings, a t-shirt with no image, a crystal award with no names, or a bottle with no branding. But each of these items has a specified area on which machines can print, deboss, emboss, etch, engrave or embroider your logo and marketing message.


In order for printing machines or embroidery machines to create your imprint they need an informational guide to know exactly what they need to do. That guide is called a ‘screen,’ ‘plate’ or ‘die.’  Without this screen or die, the manufacturer is unable to imprint your promotional product.


The Set-Up: Creating the Screen, Die or Plate for Imprinting

The type of promotional product you choose and the method of imprinting your message will drive what type of set-up is required.


Say you wanted to print on a pen in one color, in that case, you would need one screen. If you choose to print a full color (or multi-color) logo on your item, you’ll need multiple custom screens – one for each color. If you wanted to create an award, the engraving process would require programming the computer properly.


And if you wanted to deboss a product (which means pressing a message into a product so that it was below the product’s surface – for example, one of those silicone wristbands), you would need a die. A die is creating by carving the logo or message copy into a mold. The mold is then filled with liquid metal and then cooled to produce the die which is then used to deboss the product. If you remember what a typewriter’s letter element keys looked like, that would be similar to a die.


Each screen, plate, die or even computer program must be custom-created containing your logo and/or message. The set-up fee is the cost to produce this custom tool. This fee will vary based on not only the type of tool needed for the job but will also depend on the manufacturer.


The ‘Why’ Behind the Set-up Charge.

So as you can see, quite a lot of work, time and materials go into ensuring that your promotional product is manufactured correctly. This time and material is why there is a set-up fee on every product order.


Contact us today if you have further questions about set-up fees or the process of creating a promotional product, a.k.a. your Silent Salesperson, helping you promote your business!