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Overview Custom skateboard Printing

Print Options HOW IT WORKS

Ink chemically bonded to wood is the only way we print a skateboard deck. Never a Sticker, Decal, Vinyl, Wrap or some weird Plastic Laminate.

Point Distribution has developed a print process for custom skateboard printing that combines Digital Printing with Screen-Printing. We can now tie the different prints together using a specially formulated ink that chemically bonds to the wood veneer. What is left is an ink print that is of similar composition to the lacquer that we use to seal the wood. Professional skateboarders demand this type of print for performance reasons. The ink needs to slide just right and not get stuck like a sticker or slide too much like a layer of hard plastic.

We can apply this custom skateboard printing process for “one-off” graphics. Printing a single deck was not possible before because the process required that a screen is made for every color used in the graphic print. The set-up fees would be in the $100s of dollars.

heat transfer printing

heat transfer printing

Custom Skateboard Printing Digital Transfers

Heat Transfer Printing is the industry standard for custom skateboard printing. Heat transfers are capable of printing full-bottom, full-color graphics. Each transfer carrier sheet prints in reverse order using screen printing ink, digital ink, or both.

The process to apply the transfers to a skateboard, the printed transfer sheet is aligned to the deck and run through a heated silicone rubber roller machine. This machine will heat the specially formulated ink, and the combination of heat and pressure forms a chemical bond to the skateboard deck. After the ink cures, the plastic carrier sheet is peeled away, leaving the ink bonded to the deck. Special formulations of ink and skateboard deck coatings are used to make a tight bond.

Direct Screen Print

Direct Screen Print

Custom Skateboard Printing Direct Screen Print

Direct screen-printing to a custom skateboard deck is well-suited for smaller, less detailed one or two color graphics or top prints. The live print areas and size can be restrictive because of the curved surface of the deck, smudging and registration problems can occur. We recommend this custom skateboard printing process for mini-logos and top graphics.

Direct screen-printing can be an economical alternative to transfer printing for companies that are looking for a lower cost and small ‘mini logo’ type print. 14″x7.5″ is the maximum print size between the truck holes.

Custom skateboard Printing Which print type should i use?

The artwork will determine the best method to use for custom skateboard printing on decks. Below is an infographic of what method works best depending on the artwork.

Direct Screen Print

Screen Print Transfer

Digital Printed Transfer

Printing can get really complicated as we sometimes combine the above print types with metallic ink, foil, etc to achieve a desired effect.
Contact a Point Distribution rep about your artwork and custom skateboard printing goals to get an exact description.

Custom Skateboard Printing Heat transfer print Types

Regular Print

This type of print has a full white underlay so all of the colors are true and solid colors. If you have had tshirts printed before this is similar to the white that needs to be under each color.

Transparent Print

This is achieved with our digital print method but without white under the colors. In the lighter colors you will see wood grain blended with the color in your graphic. In darker colors like black and navy blue the colors may look 100% opaque (no wood grain blend). Yellows and lighter browns are very close to the color of natural veneer so it is difficult to see these colors. White is not printed so all areas of white will be 100% transparent. 

Knockout Print

This is achieved by underlaying each color with white but leaving areas of no color with no white underlay. This is usually made by silk screen printing. Silk screen printing requires a screen be made for each color. This can get expensive and has high minimums. There are some ways to print knockout with digital printing but there are many limitations and one of our sales people would need to see the artwork to see what is possible.
Custom Skateboard Printing Transfer Types
Custom Skateboard Printing Color Reproduction

How To Accurately Reproduce Color

What you see on your monitor is not an actual color representation of what you will see printed on a deck. It takes extra care to match a color in a graphic accurately. The company, PANTONE, was invented just for this reason and is the industry standard for communicating color. ‘Pantone Books’ and specifically the ‘Pantone Solid Coated’ swatch book are used for accurate communication of colors from the graphic designer to the printer.

The ‘Pantone Solid Coated’ swatch book should be used when creating spot color graphics. If you are using Photoshop or Illustrator to create your custom skateboard print, please name your layers with the appropriate Pantone number (for example, PMS 187C). You should always rely on your Pantone book for choosing colors and use the Pantone swatches in Photoshop or Illustrator merely for communicating the colors. Graphics created without using these swatches will be converted to the closest Pantone equivalent.

The benefit of the color bridge is it offers the Solid Coated Pantone alongside its CMYK equivalent, we recommend having an actual Pantone book. The image is an example of the Pantone Solid Coated swatch library within Illustrator and Photoshop. Please note just using the Pantone swatch library in Illustrator and Photoshop will not give you 100% accurate color. Computer monitors reproduce colors in RGB with backlighting.

Hand Drawn Artwork

Hand Drawn Skateboard Graphics

You've got questions we've got answers

For direct screen printing, the art has to be built with large amounts of possible print color shifting taken into consideration. Ink bleeding, shifting print locations from loose mesh, squeegee streaks, variable dot gain, and many other reasons make direct screen printing less than desirable. Fine detail like photographic printing is not possible. The print adhesion of transfers is similar as direct screen and the cost for a full direct screen print is more than 3x as much. We don’t see a reason for less quality printing that costs more*.

Please know that other companies may say ‘screen printed’ when referring to the printing of the transfers and that does not mean ‘direct to deck screen printing’.

*There are some exceptions to this rule like a completely flat longboard deck or printing the veneer pre-pressing. Some just like the nostalgia, more power to you if disagree.

The answer as with most things is ‘It depends’. All big brands don’t use the same print type. What determines the best print type are a few different things: First ‘What print type can reproduce the artwork the best’? fine detail with shading, fading, and many colors=digital transfer, solid blocks of color, metallic spots and exact Pantone matching= screened transfer. Second ‘What makes the most financial sense?’ The unit cost per digital transfer is higher but there are no set-up fees vs lower unit cost of screened transfers with screen set-up fees. You’d have to do the math and know the total units to see which cost averages out to the lowest cost. Then you can have weird combos that don’t fit into the above like a graphic I was just looking at that has 2 screened spot colors and digital in the same graphic… It really ‘depends’….
Most of our customers want their supply chain to be secret and we think it is pretty tacky to show pictures of our customer’s product(we occasionally do it but it’s very rare). To have confidence in Point as a supplier we suggest ordering samples so you can know for sure!
Printing a skateboard is much more in-depth than just a digital printing machine. We actually have to use 5 machines to print a skateboard using our digital transfer method. Most of these machines are custom made to our specifications. We also developed the materials and inks specifically for this application. It took years of hard work and huge expense to get to where we are today(we are still improving our processes everyday). We are more than happy to make finished printed skateboard decks for you but we do not sell these machines, materials, or just the transfers.
We do not sell transfers apart from a custom printed deck. We do not print on skateboard products that we did not produce. Transfer sheets are what we get the most requests for. These transfer sheets are specially created to work with the chemistry of the coatings on our skateboard decks and may or may not work with decks we do not produce. For application of these sheets to decks not all transfer machines are the same. There are certain settings that not all transfer machines can achieve. Further it just does not make financial sense to sell transfer sheets.
We have done that before. We’d have to see the art to know for sure. There are definitely some requirements and limitations. This type of print usually requires combining different print methods so expect bigger minimums and additional costs..
Our reps review art for obvious issues like low resolution artwork. We’ll let you know if we see an issue. We also provide a digital proof/confirmation (on the wholesale/OEM side) for your approval before accepting an order. If you are really concerned we suggest that you order a sample before doing a production run.
Sorry we do not print on outside product or supply skateboard printing equipment, transfers, or supplies. We only print on the products we produce.

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