Production Processes

There are a broad range of production processes used in the manufacturing and decorating of ceramics and the technical concerns almost endless.  To help you to understand the various options available we have provided a brief description, together with advantages and disadvantages of the various methods we use but will always give our own best recommendations for your individual needs. 

Printing Mugs Impact China

Direct Screen Print

This method of production involves silk screen printing 1 to 5 solid colours directly onto the surface of the mug and is extremely good for reproduction of logos and text.


The print is crisp, sharp and permanently dishwasher safe and origination is relatively inexpensive.

Cannot be used to reproduce tones, tints and gradients and tightly registered colours are also unachievable. For each mug there is a specific direct print area which must be adhered to which on certain shapes can be quite restricted.

Litho printed mugs Impact China

Litho Transfer Print

Generally used for larger orders requiring photographic images, tones and tints. In transfer printing, the design is created by printing the colours in layers onto a special paper to build up the whole design (usually 4 colour process and/or spot colours). This is then cover coated so that the design can be “slid” off the sheet when submerged in water and hand applied to the mug.

Tones, tints, gradients, photographic images and tight registration are all achievable. This method gives a larger print area and can also be used to decorate more difficult mug shapes which could not otherwise be printed. This process can also be used to decorate the handle, base, inside rim etc. This print method is permanent and dishwasher safe.

Origination and unit costs on lower quantities are relatively expensive and so more suited to larger order volumes.

Gilding Mugs Impact China

Gilding/Colour banding

This process involves the hand application of a rim / handle flash to the mug which can be either in real gold or silver or in a print colour. This can be added to products decorated by any of the above methods apart from dye sublimation mugs.

Can make a product look significantly more expensive and “finishes” a bone china mug.

Applying real gold or silver to a mug will make it no longer dishwasher safe.

litho printed mugs

Digital Transfer Printing

This method is hand applied in the same way as a Litho transfer print however the design itself is printed onto waterslide paper on a digital printer using ceramic 4 colour process colours. Again, the sheet is cover coated and the whole design hand applied to the mug.

Because the whole design is printed digitally, no screen making is involved and origination is therefore relatively inexpensive, as is the cost of small volume orders.

The print colours can be quite dull because they are restricted to the ceramic 4 colour process, and spot colours cannot be added. Digital transfers are generally not as glossy as other print methods and so the print finish can sometimes be slightly matt.

dye sub printed mugs

Dye Sublimation

Generally used for reproduction of photographic images onto straight sided earthenware mugs.

Inexpensive to originate and produce in small quantities. Due to low production temperatures, more vibrant colours can be achieved.

Not dishwasher safe. This print method is not crisp and sharp and so not ideal for logos and text. Restricted mug shapes.