Magnetic Name Badges

Name badges, and in particular magnetic name badges have always been one of our most popular promotional products.

In view of this, and as name badges are one of the first promotional products we started producing, we thought it appropriate to launch a dedicated name badge website.

And so Abalone Graphics are pleased to announce the launch of Magnetic Name Badges, our brand new website devoted to our range of name badges catering for all types of businesses and associations.

Magnetic name badges

Plastic Name Badges

Magnetic name badges offers plastic name badges, which are our lowest priced name badges, offering exception value for money. Plastic magnetic name badges are available in three sizes, and as with all our name badges can be produced in stunning full colour.

Metal Name Badges

We also offer  metal name badges, available in a range of metallic finishes, including brushed silver, brushed gold, bright silver, bright gold and white, these come in 3 sizes and can also be printed in full colour.

Domed Name Badges

Our premium name badges are considered to be our domed magnetic name badges, featuring our Crystalens technology, they offer outstanding durability, stunning appearance and exceptional value for money.

So why choose Magnetic Name Badges?

It’s not just magnetic name badges we supply, we can supply any of our name badges with a pin fixing or clip fixing at no extra cost.

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Different decoration methods for t shirts

Following on from my previous post about promotional t-shirts I thought it would be good to look at the different methods that are used to decorate T Shirts, as well as some of the pro’s and con’s of each of these methods.

We often get requests from customers who have come up with their own designs and want to produce them onto t shirts,  often they are unaware of the different decoration methods available, including some of the limitations of each method and the costs involved.

I hope that this post can serve to shed some light on the different decoration methods available, and whilst not an exhaustive list it includes the most popular methods involved in t shirt decoration today.

Screen Printing T Shirts

Screen printing is the most popular way of decorating T Shirts, screen printing is a process that involves separating each colour in the design and then applying these separately onto the T-shirts by forcing the ink through a mesh screen.  A screen has to be made for each colour in the design, and an additional screen has to be made if the design is to be produced onto a black t-shirt.

Due to the costs involved in making the screens, this method is not suitable for producing small runs, but on large volumes it is the cheapest most cost-effective decoration method available.


  • Cheapest method to produce large quantities of t-shirts
  • Can be produced on any colour of T Shirt


  • Set up cost for producing each screen (a screen required for each colour in design)
  • Difficult to achieve gradients and tones in designs
  • Only suitable for larger quantities
Mesh screen for screen printing

A mesh screen used for screen printing

A big part of the cost in screen printing is the cost to produce the screens, however these can be re-used for repeat orders providing the design remains the same.  The cost for screen printing t-shirts will also be linked to the number of colours in the design, as each different colour has to be applied separately, so the fewer the colours the cheaper the cost.

Producing T Shirts using Garment Film (vinyl).

Garment film is a very popular method of producing t-shirts and especially suitable for low quantities, and designs with only a few colours and one offs.

Printed T Shirts Staffordshire

A T Shirt produced using garment film

In its most basic form it consists of cutting out a vectorised design or text from a roll of single colour garment film using a cutting machine.  Once the design has been cut the unwanted vinyl is removed, (weeded out) leaving only the design which is held in place by a carrier sheet.  The vinyl is then fused to the t shirt using a heat press at the correct temperature, time and pressure.  Multi coloured designs are produced by layering different colours of vinyl and pressing these separately onto the shirts, overlapping the previous colour if required.

Garment film is available in many different colours, including metallic, fluorescent and  textured finishes.


  • Suitable for low volumes including one offs
  • Low (if any) set up costs
  • Can be applied to almost any part of the t shirt
  • Metallic and special textured finishes can be achieved


  • Not suitable for highly colored complex designs
  • Certain types of garment film may not feel as nice to touch as screen printing on large areas
  • Gradients and tones cannot be produced

The costs involved in decorating t shirts using garment film is related to the amount of weeding out and number of presses per shirt. A single colour simple design can be applied in one press, but a complex multi coloured design may need lots of time-consuming weeding out, and several heat presses to produce.

Garment film is available in many different grades of quality we only use the best from the market leading suppliers

Printing T shirts using Dye Sublimation

The detail and colour reproduction that can be produced using dye sublimation is nothing short of stunning, and as the process actually dyes the fabric of the shirt there is no difference to feel of the shirt following decoration.

Dye sublimation involves using specialised dyes and intense heat to permanently dye the fabric of the t shirt, resulting in a highly vivid full colour decoration. Using dye sublimation photographic quality images can be produced as well as highly complex designs, featuring gradients and tones.

Dye sublimation printed shirt

A Dye sublimated t shirt

There are however two restrictions with dye sublimation, one is that this method can only be used on white or very light pastel coloured t shirts, and the other is that the t shirt must be made from 100% polyester.


  • Stunning colour reproduction
  • Full colour decoration (same price regardless of number of colours used)
  • Suitable for one offs and small volumes


  • Limited to white or very light pastel coloured t shirts
  • T Shirts must be 100% polyester (these are more expensive than regular cotton t shirts)

Most football shirts are produced using dye sublimation.

Printing T Shirts using Transfers

For some T shirt designs sometimes the best option is to produce them using a plastisol transfer.  Transfers are applied in the same way as garment film, but they can be produced in full colour allowing complex designs to be produced and applied easily.

printed t shirts using transfers

A full colour transfer

One of the biggest advantages to using transfers is where lots of the same design shirts are required but not needed all at once, in this case the transfers can be produced and stocked and then applied to the shirts as and when they are required.


  • Multi colour complex designs can be reproduced.
  • Can be used on any colour T shirts.
  • Transfers can stocked and T shirts produced in smaller batches or produced to order.


  • Larger transfers can feel a bit rubbery

Printing T Shirt using Direct to Garment Printers

Direct to garment printing (DTG) is a relatively new process used for t shirt decoration, and as the name suggests it involves printing the design directly onto the T Shirt.

The T Shirts are placed over a platen ensuring the area to be printed is flat and then printed in a similar fashion to the way a desktop printer prints.  In addition to the print there is a fusing agent applied to the t shirts, this adheres the print to the shirt after heat pressing the completed printed design.  If a black or dark-colored t shirt is required the direct to garment printer first prints a white ink base colour, and then the other colours are printed over this.

Direct to Garment printing is still a new evolving technology, and many of the early machines suffered from problems, especially with the white ink clogging  and causing issues.  Many of these issues have now been resolved and some of the latest t shirts we have seen are extremely impressive, with full colour designs possible, on low volumes and at a very attractive price point.

Direct to garment printing is a new and exciting technology and we anticipate it will have a big impact on the low volume, custom apparel decoration industry moving forward.


  • Impressive results ( although quality does vary from machine to machine)
  • Low volume complex full colour designs can be produced
  • Any colour T Shirt can be printed


  • Relatively new technology still some issues
  • Quality varies from machine to machine
  • Not widely adopted or available in the industry so prices have been inconsistent.

At Abalone Graphics we can advise you on any of these t shirt decorating processes and others, and we either offer them in-house, or use our trusted trade only partners, who are the leading experts within the custom apparel industry.

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We recommend Promotional T Shirts

We always say that the best promotional items are useful items, and as much as we like quirky and innovative promotional products, if you asked us to suggest the single most effective promotional product, our suggestion would be promotional t-shirts.

T Shirts as a fashion item

T-shirts have been around for over 100 years, originally worn as underwear, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that it was considered fashionable to wear t-shirts as outer-wear.

Marlon Brando tight fitted t shirtThe popularity of the T Shirt was helped considerably by Marlon Brando’s appearance in a tight-fitting t shirt in the film ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’

The tight-fitting t shirt worn by Marlon Brando is thought to have been specially made, as at this time tight-fitting t shirts were unavailable.

Following this rise in popularity it didn’t take long for the T Shirt to be recognised as a great medium for effectively promoting all kinds of message and causes, promotional T Shirts became widespread promoting political causes, pop art, music, commercial promotions and events.

During the 70 and the 80 t-shirts firmly established themselves as a staple clothing item, advances in decoration methods, and a greater choice of styles gave rise to iconic t shirt designs that still remain popular today.

promotional t shirts

iconic promotional t shirtsToday the range of T Shirt styles, weights and colours is huge, with decoration methods catering for all,  from low-cost promotional giveaway shirts, to high-end full colour retail quality shirts and hard wearing work wear t-shirts.

This vast range of choice and decoration methods for promotional T shirts can be overwhelming, if you have any questions or would like any further information please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We have a fantastic selection of t shirts and can advise you on all aspects of t shirt decoration including, sublimation, screen printing, direct to garment, transfer printing, garment film and rhinestone decoration.

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Abalone Graphics does Britains got talent…

When asked by one of our customers if we could help out with a special Christmas present for his mum, we were happy to assist.

We were more than a little surprised to learn that his mum happens to be Jean Martyn, the fantastically talented keyboard player from the 2011 Final of Britain’s got Talent.

Her son had arranged for a unique figurine to be modeled and wanted us to produce a couple of bespoke domed labels to finish it off.

So here it is the Jean Martyn figurine, what do you think?  As always its a yes from us!

Abalone Graphics domed labels

Jean Martyn Britains Got Talent Finalist


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The rise and rise of the Silicone wrist band

Although they had been around for some time it was not until 2004 that the silicone wristband or awareness bracelets as they are otherwise known became really popular.

The catalyst for their popularity came when they were introduced as a fundraising item by the Lance Armstrong Foundation to raise support for cancer research. These wristbands were yellow and featured the simple message “livestrong”. The Livestrong wristbands proved a staggering success, raising over 15 million pounds in the first six months of being launched.

The Livestrong Wristband

Seeing the success of these wristbands, many charities were soon to start offering silicone wristbands in their own colours and with their own messages. Today there are lots of different wristbands available, promoting numerous causes, with two of the more well-known ones being the white Make Poverty History silicone band, and the red, navy and sky blue Help for Heroes wristband.

Awareness wristbands and bracelets still remain a popular fund-raising item, and can often be seen worn by celebrities.

Part of the reason silicone wristbands are such a great fund-raising item is because they are cheap to buy (particularly in volume) and can be customised in a lots of ways.

At Abalone Graphics we supply silicone wristbands in a vast array of colours and styles including multi-coloured bands, all of which can be printed, embossed or de-bossed with any logo or any text.

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Promotional products from the past part 2

Following on from the my post on Esso’s succesful use of promotional products, I thought I would write another article about an even earlier successful promotional product campaign.

This story takes us back to 1892, and a 30-year-old salesman named William, who looking to increase sales of his baking powder business, decided to give away free packs of chewing gum with cans of baking powder.

Offering the free chewing gum proved a great success, in fact so successful was this promotional product William decided to stop selling the baking powder, and to concentrate solely on selling chewing gum.  Soon after making this decision William Wrigley developed his own chewing gum, he called it ‘Juicy Fruit’ and this along with his ‘Spearmint gum’ became a huge seller and Wrigley’s gum was born.

William Wrigley was a great believer in using promotional products to boost sales, having initially switched to selling baking powder, after using it as a promotional item to help sell Scouring Soap.

As well as a believer in using promotional products William Wrigley also understood the importance of advertising and marketing of the Wrigley’s brand.  This was to prove especially prudent, when during the world war, ingredients to make chewing gum became in short supply.  Wrigley’s not wanting to compromise on quality removed “Juicy Fruit” and “Spearmint Gum” from the civilian market making it available only to American troops.  Despite this, Wrigley’s continued with its advertising presence producing adverts picturing an empty wrapper with the strapline “remember this wrapper”.

In 1946 after the war ‘Juicy Fruit’ and ‘Spearmint Gum’ was re-introduced back to the public, and aided by the continuous advertising campaign it quickly once again became the leading brand of chewing gum.  The fact that during the war it was only available to American troops, who, perceived by many as looking ‘cool’ whilst chewing gum, further helped to boost Wrigley’s sales.

It’s also worth noting, that not wanting to damage the ‘Juicy Fruit’ or ‘Spearmint’ brand by using a different ingredients during the war-time shortages. Wrigley’s introduced ‘Orbit’ chewing gum to the civilian market in the USA, this was produced using alternative more plentiful ingredients, and marketed as a not quite so good alternative.

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Promotional campaigns from the past

I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at a some promotions, and in particular promotional merchandise campaigns from the past, and where better to start than with Esso.

Readers of a certain age I’m sure will remember the Esso Tiger, and the slogan “put a tiger in your tank” that was used by Esso when launching an improved petrol called Esso Extra into the UK.

As part of this marketing campaign, a range of supporting promotional merchandise was also launched including key rings, colouring books, bumper stickers and textile tiger tails.

The tiger tails featured a loop that went around the petrol cap,  so it literally looked like you had a tigers tail hanging out of your petrol tank.  So popular were the tigers tails that Esso couldn’t keep up with demand, and a black market emerged selling tiger tails at 5 times the cost advertised by Esso.

All in all the whole campaign proved to be a massive success, and in the UK alone Esso sold 4 million bumper stickers, 2.5 million tiger tails and over 2 million other promotional items.

Interestingly the tiger tails idea was not born from Esso, but from a small forward thinking US textile company who approached Esso with the gimmicky suggestion, this company then had to sub contract out the work to keep up with massive demand.

The whole range of promotional merchandise was sold at cost, so whilst Esso didn’t make money directly from the range of promotional items, the increase in sales they accounted for, more than made up for it.

Using animals as part of your logo or company marketing strategy really can prove to be a winner, a recent example of this is the success of the meerkats associated with the Compare the Market adverts. 

Have you got a great idea for a promotional product campaign, then contact Abalone Graphics, Staffordshire’s  leading supplier of promotional products.

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