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Printing Industry Exchange ( 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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Promotional Products: Refrigerator Magnet Printing

Think of a marketing magnet as a miniature billboard. It’s an advertisement, and as the election approaches, this format can give you another viable option for name recognition. In fact, even if you’re not producing political signage for candidates, you may find this a useful tool for building brand recognition for your clients—or yourself.

New Custom Printing Options vs. Old

To begin with, magnets used to be printed by specialty printers. They were considered novelties. You would screen print a simple design in one or two colors. Then you would die cut the contour of the magnet using a metal cutting rule on a rotary or cylinder press.

You would first need to pay the set-up charge for the custom screen printing. Like offset printing, this make-ready phase took time and therefore cost money. Unless your press run had been rather long—let’s say 300-1,000 copies or more–your unit cost would be high.

Furthermore, once the job had been screen printed and the ink had dried, your custom printing vendor had to die cut the magnet. Traditional die cutting uses a custom-made cutting rule inset into a piece of wood or some other material. The die itself was expensive to make (up to $400.00 or $500.00), and its creation added time to the overall manufacturing schedule. In addition, the die cutting had to be done on a different piece of equipment than the custom printing.

In recent years this process has changed. I recently wrote a blog about a new integrated inkjet printer and digital die cutter. This is state of the art equipment. In the article I described the vendor’s ability to print labels in one pass and then die cut them in a second pass (using digital data and an automated knife), without removing the job from the inkjet equipment. The commercial printing vendor with whom I spoke about this equipment had been producing digitally die cut, peel-n-stick labels.

What I find exciting about this technology is that it can also be used to print refrigerator magnets. Your commercial printing vendor can purchase thick vinyl sheeting bonded to a magnetic backing and then feed this into the integrated inkjet printing and die cutting equipment. If you wish, he can then laminate or UV coat the magnets for a glossy appearance and for protection.

Features and Benefits of Digitally Produced Magnets

It’s easy to understand the technical benefits of integrated inkjet printers and digital die cutters and how they shorten make-ready times, speed up production runs, and thus yield a cost savings. Beyond this, there are aesthetic benefits as well.

For instance, a decade or two ago you might have chosen a simple, text-only treatment for your magnet in only one or two colors.

Now, you have access to full color printing of the entire magnet produced on digital inkjet equipment. In addition, the increased color range of many large format inkjet presses (due to an extended ink set) allows you to produce vibrant photographic images and to match PMS colors more precisely. The increased resolution available on inkjet equipment also allows you to produce finer detail than possible with the coarser halftone rulings available for custom screen printing. You get almost continuous tone images.

In terms of financial benefits, you will have more vendors that can print your magnets, increasing competition and fostering lower prices. Setting up a screen printing operation is an expensive proposition, so fewer commercial printing suppliers will commit to this technology. In contrast, a commercial printing vendor can buy a large-format inkjet press for proportionately less money. And it will allow him to produce everything from backlit signage to banners to vehicle wraps to magnets.

More printers will therefore have the incentive to buy this equipment. Over time as the technology improves, the combination of increased vendor competition and lower equipment and supply costs should drive down prices for printing your magnets. And you can print one, ten, or a hundred magnets (instead of 1,000) without worrying about set-up costs.

Why Magnets Are Small Billboards

Here’s the real reason you may want to consider custom printing magnets for your clients or yourself: They put your name in front of your client, or your client’s client.

Think about it. If you design and produce a refrigerator magnet and send it out to a prospective client, every time he or she goes to the refrigerator, he or she will see your name. It’s Marketing 101: exposure to the brand. And on a unit-cost-basis, this is an incredibly inexpensive way to advertise your services.

How do you get the prospective client to put your magnet on the refrigerator? Make it useful.

Think about all the calendars you receive in the mail each year. A 4” x 6” magnetic calendar with your name emblazoned across the top can be both useful to your prospective client and a good, inexpensive advertisement for your product or service as well. And since it provides useful information, it will probably stay on the refrigerator for a year.

6 Responses to “Promotional Products: Refrigerator Magnet Printing”

  1. Steve Henning says:

    Great Article, can you tell me the name of the printer and die cutter you refer to in your article-Thanks

    • admin says:

      Thank you. You might start by researching equipment by Mimaki. Look for inkjet printers and cutting plotters.

  2. Wonderful article. Thanks.

  3. Very informative article. Thanks for the name of the printer and die cutter you refer to in your article.


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