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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Custom Printing: Printed Wristband Is “All the Rage”

I used to make fun of silicone wrist bands. I don’t know why. Maybe I thought they were a fad. But when I was given one recently I became a convert.

These little promotional pieces are an excellent value, cheap to produce, and sought after with almost religious fervor.

Here’s a rundown of the product and the process. You may want to include these in your marketing arsenal.

The Product

Silicone rubber is not new. In fact for a number of years you may have seen silicone cookware, such as baking sheets for muffins, which are ideal because they can withstand high heat without melting. However, the material is also easily stretched, and it comes back immediately to its original shape (it has memory). Therefore, the material is perfect for bracelets. It can stretch to go over the user’s hand and then come back to its original shape once on the wrist.

In addition to their stretchability, these silicone gel bands can be easily and cheaply personalized. If you check the Internet, you’ll find any number of suppliers that offer a long list of colors, messages, and typefaces. They also allow to use your own custom printing art, for a reasonable fee.

The Process

Silicone, which was originally invented as an insulating material, can be pre-dyed in various colors and then extruded into ropes or strips, which can be compression molded (pressed into the desired shape using a mold, heat, and pressure) into the round circular wristbands that are all the rage. Although most are perfectly round, you may find such shapes as hearts as well. These wristbands tend to be about 7” to 8.5” in circumference, about 1/10” thick, and about 1/2” wide. However, longer circumferences and wider strips are also available.

The Options

Flat Custom Printing: Single-level printing on silicone wristbands is done via serigraphy (custom screen printing). The screen printing ink is thick, and it adheres well to the rubber bracelets.

Multi-level Printing (Embossing): Letters of the marketing message can be slightly raised above the silicone rubber surface (approximately two milimeters) using a compression molding process.

Multi-level Printing (Debossing): Letters of the marketing message can be recessed into the silicone rubber using a compression molding process.

Multi-colored Printing (Debossing): The recessed letters can be colored differently from the surrounding rubber band. This color contrast will make the marketing message more prominent.

Even more options: In addition to the preceding choices, many wristband makers will offer textured bands (I have seen a tire-tread texture, for instance), fat bands (wider than usual), layered bands (multiple colors laminated to one another), and swirl patterns (multiple colors swirling into one another without a pattern).

Why They’re Effective

In my opinion, silicone wristbands reflect the perfect marketing storm, a confluence of ideal attributes.

  1. They are cheaper to make, relative to their selling price, than most other promotional products, such as t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags.
  2. Because they are so flexible, they fit almost any wrist. They return to their original length without stretching out of shape.
  3. They come in a myriad of brilliant colors that are visible from a distance.
  4. Over the past years they have become a cult item among younger and older people alike, who want to express their affiliation with a cause (such as cancer prevention). They have equity as a marketing device.
  5. They are also ideal for increasing brand awareness. Companies of all types can produce these in bulk and then distribute them as premiums, just like pens. And unlike calendars and notepads, which prospective customers may see and touch only a few times a day (if that), brilliantly colored wristbands go wherever the wearer goes. They are the proverbial “string around the finger,” reminding them of the charitable cause, the sports team, or a particular brand.
  6. The soft, pliable, slightly matte-textured surface of the wristbands feels good to the touch.

What You Can Learn

If you’re a marketing manager looking for the next big project to increase customer awareness, then go beyond the usual products: pens, cups, tote bags, notepads, balloons, and t-shirts. Give your prospective customers (or your support base) a new toy.

2 Responses to “Custom Printing: Printed Wristband Is “All the Rage””

  1. Tina says:

    What you didn’t mention in your blog that I’m concerned is about silicone’s environmental impact if it ends up in the trash after the wearer has had enough of the message it brings. It seems like the kind of material that takes an uber long time to breakdown, like plastic, and may even leach it’s components into soil and ground water – to negative effect.
    My goods and services are health-based and my customers are pro-environment. This is not a good idea for me if my concerns are accurate. What can you tell me about that?

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment. I understand your concern, although I am not knowledgeable regarding the environmental impact of silicone. So I would definitely encourage all readers of the PIE Blog to research this product in depth and then make their own decisions based on their research.

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