printed bag glossary
July 11, 2016

Get to grips with printed bags: the TPBS glossary

We know that if you’re not familiar with the world of graphic design and printing, it could be difficult placing an order for printed bags for the first time if you’re not sure what some of the specification terminology means.

Whilst we’re delighted to offer a free sample service so you can get a better idea up close about what different printed bags, materials and printing processes can look like, we thought it might be handy for you to have a printed bag ‘glossary’, if you will, to refer to when you go to place an order!

So, here’s some top words and phrases that we often get asked about, and what they mean for your printed bag order!

Flexographic printing – this refers to the printing process used on more uneven surfaces – our plastic bags and mailing bags being a good example. Relating to the idea of being ‘flexible’, the printing plates in flexographic printing are normally made from rubber or flexible plastic to allow them to conform to the material they’re printing on.

Offset printing – also referred to as offset lithography, offset printing is a method of mass production printing where the images on metal printing plates are transferred (or offset) on to rubber rollers, and then on to the surface being printed. This means the surface doesn’t come into direct contact with the metal plates, so they last longer, and the rubber plates are better for use on rougher surfaces like our canvas bags. One of the biggest benefits of offset printing is the quality and consistency of the image, which is why we use it wherever we can on our printed bags.

Embossing/Debossing – this means to either create a raised (embossing) or sunken (debossing) image when printing, so that your design literally stands out – think Patrick Bateman’s business card in American Psycho!

Minimum order – pretty much what it says on the tin, this is the minimum amount of a product that we can deliver in one order to make it viable for us. This changes with each of our products so see their individual pages for more info.

CMYK – this is a colour model and printing process which allows us to print full photographic images on some of our products, if that’s what your design involves. The letters refer to the four inks that make up full colour printing; cyan, magenta, yellow and key (which is black).

gsm – this stands for Grams per Square Meter, and is just a simple way for printers to know how thick or thin the paper is that is being used. The higher the gsm, the thicker the paper.

Gloss/Matt Lamination – used on our laminated printed bags (believe it or not), this just refers to the finish of the bags themselves. Gloss means shiny, matt means no shine.

Hot Foil Blocking – this simply refers to the process of using heat to transfer foil onto the printing surface, leaving a metallic finish. It’s a great way to jazz up your bags and really catch your customers’ eye, and is available on our luxury laminated printed bags.

Metal Eyelets – this refers to the metal rings that we can add around the holes of the handles on our laminated printed bags. Adding an extra bit of metal hardware can really make them feel that bit more special and high end.

Biodegradable – one that you’re probably familiar with, if something is biodegradable, it means it can be decomposed completely naturally, reducing it’s carbon footprint and avoiding pollution.

Water Based Inks – a more environmentally friendly ink choice, water based inks are super soft, able to be mixed to any Pantone colour and are versatile for a huge range of printing needs.

Kraft Paper – kraft bags are a type of paper bags, and you can find out more about them in this blog. They’re super strong and more natural, and we use kraft paper for our twisted handle bags. One thing to bear in mind with kraft bags is that when using a natural brown kraft, the appearance of the colours printed onto it can change.

Grosgrain – this is a type of material we offer for our printed ribbon. Grosgrain material is thicker, more textured and a bit tougher than the satin alternative.

If you have any other questions about anything we’ve missed, you can check out this FAQ blog for more answers, or simply get in touch and ask us about it! You can contact our team by calling 0191 268 7555, or emailing