Looking to Buy Garment Tags? Print Them Yourself!

There are lots of solutions out there to find garment tags. Companies offer a multitude of options for personalization. Customize graphics, size, color, garment label material, and shape. The only downside is there are order minimums, you must wait for samples, and you can’t change everything on the fly. Essentially there is no control over the tag-making process.

What Is Garment Tag Printing?

Also known as Tagless Printing, this uses a pad printer to transfer an image to a garment. The image is etched into a pad printing plate by using either an exposure unit or a laser plate-maker. The plate is then put into a pad printer along with an ink cup that is filled with ink and a printing pad. In a standard print cycle, the cup of ink slides over the etched plate leaving only a small amount of ink in the etch, the pad presses over the etch to pick up the ink and moves over the garment to press down again and transfer the image. The ink is embedded into the fabric, not sitting on top, resulting in a print you can see, but not feel with more durability.

Additional Resources

For more information about how tagless printing works visit our page:

What is Tagless Label Printing

Or watch the video here!

Why Should You Print Garment Tags Yourself?

Simply put gain control over your entire labeling process. Bring it in-house to control cost and creativity. The average cost of a pad printed garment tag is about $0.001. Each can of ink can produce about 100,000 labels. If you are making pad printing plates in-house the artwork for the tags can be altered at your convenience. In addition, you gain more control over the entire production cycle. You won’t need to keep an inventory of garment tags on the shelf nor will you need special sewing equipment to apply the tags.

It’s also ideal for flexible volumes. A pad printer is designed to print up to 1000 tags per hour. This isn’t to say you must print that many. Print as little as a single garment if need be. If you have a large order come in, at least you’ll be prepared.

Additional Resources:

Read more about the benefits of printing garment tags


What Do You Need To Know Before Printing Your Own Garment Tags?

In 6 easy steps, you could be on your way to printing garment tags.

1. Requirements Discovery: This is where you’ll work with a salesperson to better understand your production volumes and requirements such as color, size, etc.…

2. A detailed ROI report will be presented to determine if going tagless is right for you.

3. Sampling: You send in your material and artwork; we’ll do the rest. We will print a multitude of samples for you so you can see, touch, and test the print.

4. Equipment Purchase: You agree to all terms and final sale of the machine. The machine is sent to you will all required documentation

5. Installation & Training: We can show up on-site and set your machine up. After the initial set-up, our technician will work with all the operators to give detailed training regarding machine operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

6. After-sale support: Contact us any time with questions regarding the garment tag printing process. We also offer in-house support, over the phone tech support, and spare part inventory for any replacement items.

Additional Resources:

Looking for information about switching to garment tags:


What Equipment Will I Need?

A pad printing machine

Pad printing is a relatively simple machine. The pad printer itself comes in a variety of sizes. The standard size is 90mm (around 3 inches) but can come in sizes up to 200mm (around 7.8 inches). It all depends upon the artwork size and the print area. In addition to size, a garment tag is printed in a single color, however, there are some who like the flexibility to print in multiple colors. It is recommended that no more than two colors are printed to maintain print quality and speed.

Additional Resources:

Inkcups Unveils New Feature for B100 Tagless Printing Machine

Check out our full line of pad printing equipment

A plate-maker

A plate-maker is somewhat optional in the sense that you will need some way to get plates for your pad printer, but you don’t necessarily have to do it in-house. We offer a plate-making service for low volume customers, that can’t justify the need for a plate-maker.

If you are in the market for a plate-maker, you have two options: photopolymer plate-making or laser plate-making. Photopolymer plate-making requires the use of an exposure unit where a plate is exposed to UV light several times to chemically etch the plate. The photopolymer method typically costs less for the exposure unit, however, it does require the need for additional consumables. A laser plate-maker comes in a variety of models and laser types depending upon your needs. Laser etching a plate is fast, the quality is high, and the artwork is 100% repeatable because it is generated from a computer.

Additional Resources:

Check out our plate-making service here


Learn more about the photopolymer plate-making process


Watch this video to see how a laser etches a plate


Check out our line of laser plate-makers

What Consumables Will I Need?

The ink cup and ring

The ink cup houses the ink. You will get one (or two, depending on the model) with the machine. The ink cup is easy to clean because of the special ink resistant coating. More likely you would need to replace the ring. The ring sits on the bottom of the cup. It is made of ceramic and is used to doctor the ink in and out of the etch. The ring will last about 1,000,000 print cycles. Perhaps the best feature of the ring is it can be flipped over and used for another 1,000,000 impressions.

Check out our line of Ink Cups and Rings

The ink

Pad printing ink is specially formulated for garments. The Sapphire® Ink SB Series is mixed with a small amount of hardener to increase the durability and abrasion resistance of the print. The ink is also mixed with a solvent. The solvent is used to thin the ink and transfer it to a garment. The solvent evaporates and only leaves the ink and hardener behind.

Ink is available in a wide variety of colors. Typically garment tags are printed in either black, white, or Cool Grey 6. The SB series is also available in a wide range of standard colors or mixing colors used to match most Pantone numbers. The operator has the flexibility to use standard colors or use their brand colors.

Additional Resources:

SB Ink; Why You Need it for Apparel Tags and Numerous Applications

Get Brighter White Pad Printing Ink!

Check out our line of Ink

The pad

The pad is the transfer mechanism for the ink. This is the part that typically gets the most wear and tear due to compression and solvent exposure. The pad is made of a special silicone that aids in the ink transfer. Pads are available in a wide variety of shapes. The shape and size of the pad is determined largely based upon the application. For garment tags, we typically only have two choices: a circular pad for round labels and a rectangular pad for rectangular labels.

Additional Resources:

The Importance of Choosing the Right Pad Printing Pads for your Project

Check out our line of Pads

Don’t Buy Garment Tags, Make Them

If you currently purchase garment tags and you feel there is a better solution, there is! If any of the information you have read in this article has sparked more questions, please reach out to us. We have helped hundreds of companies from large to small switch from purchasing garment tags to printing them. Every business is different so let us find a solution for you.

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