Setup Fees for Your Promotional Items: What You Need to Know


What is a setup fee?

A setup is the cost associated with the creation of a die, plate, screen, or other fixture that is used in our machines to print your logo on your desired item.

Since each item has a unique imprint area, and imprint methods vary from item to item, it’s necessary to create fixtures for imprints every time you order an item for the first time. Each new fixture requires another setup fee.

A setup fee is not an artwork fee. Designing your artwork is a completely different cost.


What goes into a setup fee?


For screen printed items, the setup covers preparing a screen with the inverse of your logo on it, carefully cutting out the logo, and readying the ink.

For laser engraved items, it means calibrating your logo into the laser.

A digital printing setup charges comprises uploading your image into the printer.

Heat transfer setups include printing your logo onto transfer material, and then transferring it onto your items.

Why do some items not have a setup fee?


All items will have a setup charge, but we try to discount (or eliminate) them as much as we can. We want you to be able to maximize your advertising dollars and get the most out of each purchase.

Why do some items require multiple setup fees?


If your desired imprint has multiple colors and/or locations, this will require multiple setup fees. This is because when you have your items screen printed, a screen is created for each part of your imprint that’s a different color.


quality logo products logo imprint

To print our QLP logo on promotional items, we’d have to create two screens.

The exception is a digitally printed item. Digitally printed items only have one setup fee because your art is being sent to a large printer instead of being broken up into different screens.

I ordered multiple items; does the setup fee cover all of them?


It does not. Every single different item that you order has a unique setup fee.

To start, each item has a unique imprint area.

Stress balls have imprint areas around 2” by 2”, but t-shirts imprints can go up to 14” by 14”.

You wouldn’t want to have the same imprint on a stress ball and a t-shirt, anyway. Can you imagine how small a stress ball-sized logo would look on a t-shirt?


logo stress ball t-shirt comparison

That logo is tiny on a t-shirt! Can’t get good brand impressions that way!

Think of it like a rubber stamp placing your logo. Once you carve out the rubber stamp, you cannot change its size.

All of our promotional products are made in many, many different factories. So even if you have two items with the same imprint method and area, you’ll still have to pay separate charges because they are being made and shipped from different places.

The only time you won’t have to pay a different setup fee is if you get the exact same item but in a different color. For example, if in one order you purchase 150 pairs of our Neon Sunglasses in red, and also 150 pairs in blue, you’ll only have one setup fee. (Though please note that if you change the ink color, that would incur a different fee.)

one setup two colors of sunglasses

One product. Two colors. One ink color. One setup fee.

So what is a reorder setup fee?


If you’ve already purchased promotional products and decide that you want to order more of the exact same product, this is when a reorder setup fee is needed.

Luckily, the majority of our factories keep artwork on file for 1 to 2 years after they print a product. So if you ordered a thousand red pens with a white imprint and you passed them all out at your trade show, you can order a thousand more for a community festival without paying a setup fee.

An extra bonus is that you can even change the color of the item or the color of the ink and still not have to pay another setup fee. So instead of the red pens with the white imprint, you can mix it up and try the white version of that pen with a red imprint. As long as the item and the artwork doesn’t change, you won’t have to pay for a reorder setup fee.


reorder setup fee pens

Same artwork? Same item? You can choose different colors when you reorder.

Please note: If you change your artwork in any way, there will be a new setup charge. For example, if you change the font in your logo, you’ll have to pay a new setup fee. Also, if you change from a multi-color imprint to a single color imprint (or vice versa), new screens will need to be made. These new screens would result in one or more additional setup charges.


Phew, that’s a lot of information. Let’s do a quick recap:


  • Setup fee = creating screen, calibrating lasers, etc. Totally separate from an artwork fee
  • Unless it’s a digital imprint, multiple colors will require multiple setup fees
  • Two completely different items require two setup fees
  • In most cases, you will not have to pay a reorder setup fee