When you think about Campus Ink, the first thing that probably comes to mind is screen printing. And while screen printing is a huge component of our business, we also want you to know that we do a LOT of other stuff. For apparel, promotional items, sign printing, Illini merch, NIL information, embroidery and a whole lot in between, we hope you think Campus Ink:
As we mentioned, screen printing is sort of our bread and butter. It has been a staple of our business for over 75 years. While the industry itself has undergone a number of changes in that time, the actual process of pushing ink through a screen is still very much the same.
Screen printing is great for apparel – think tee shirts, tank tops, crew necks and hoodies. Different types and thicknesses of fabrics may require different kinds of ink or slightly different screens, but at the end of the day screen printing is still a tried and true method for getting a design on to apparel.
That being said screen printing can be limiting in terms of what can and cannot be done. The process requires that each color of the design be separated out onto its own screen. Typically we like to stick to 1-4 colors for screen printing. Any more than 4 colors and the process becomes very lengthy and you can get a heavy build up of ink on the apparel which makes it uncomfortable to wear. More intricate designs may need to be via another methods like DTF (more on that later).
In addition to screen printing, we can also embroider apparel. Embroidery is a nice option for things like polos and hats but t-shirts, pullovers and crewnecks can also be embroidered in the right circumstances. In contrast to screen printing, embroidery provides a classic, textural design that typically withstands just about any amount of washing, drying or wear & tear.
Yes, we are aware that DTF may have an inappropriate connotation to some people. DTF in our world stands for “Direct to Film” and is another way in which we can get artwork from digital to apparel. Our DTF machine prints full-color transfers of designs which we can then heat press on to a number of materials. Unlike screen printing, there is no real limit to the number of colors a design can have or the intricacy of the design. DTF machines are still a relatively new technology and the machine we have in our production facility in Urbana is one of just a few hundred in the United States. Having the DTF machine allows us to push boundaries in terms of design while still being able to offer apparel to customers at competitive prices.
If you can dream it, we can probably put your logo on it. A lesser known fact about Campus Ink is that in addition to apparel, we also sell promo products. We can do popular items like pens, cups and chapstick but we also have access to a TON of other products that can be customized to your brand.
As we mentioned in a previous blog, branded items can be a great way to promote your business. We highly recommend products that people can use (think bag clips, fanny packs, highlighters, etc.). It can also be a good idea to order promotional products that coincide with the type of business that you are – i.e. an Italian restaurant ordering branded pizza cutters. If you have an event coming up, you also might try to match your promo items to that theme. For example, these Camper Mugs would be great for a holiday party or winter event.
Our sales team is going to hate me for saying this publicly, but I challenge you to come up with a an out-of-the-box product for us to put your logo on. You never know if it’s possible until you ask.
Signage & Banners
If you are ever in need of signs or banners of any kind Campus Ink is also happy to supply you with those. We can do everything from heavy-duty vinyl banners to yards signs to self-standing signage and a whole lot more in-between. Signs and banners can be a great, semi-permanent way to promote your business, event, sale and more. It would take us too long to list all of the options we have available in this space but if you need a sign or banner there is a very good chance we can print it for you.
If there is a special meaning behind the acronym TMM, I’m not sure what it would be. For us at Campus Ink, TMM stands for total merchandise management. This means that we do everything – from design, to managing online stores, to handling payments and fulfilling orders. We currently provide these services for several nationally recognized fraternities and sororities across the country.
This service, however, is in no way shape or form limited to greek life organizations. How could this work for your business, organization or department? Do you often gift employees apparel? Do you have a sales team that is always out in the public? Does your department need branded merch to wear to work? Do your workers wear apparel with your logo on it on a daily basis? If any of these cases apply to you, a TMM solution might be a perfect fit. A TMM store could eliminate hours of work for you and create a streamlined, seamless process for getting merchandise.
NIL + The Illini Store
Our most recent endeavor has lead us head-first into the world of NIL (we really like acronyms around here). If you aren’t familiar, NIL stands for name, image and likeness. The significance of this is that college athletes now have the ability to profit from their NIL.
When NCAA regulations changed last summer, we got to work building a platform dedicated to putting money in the pockets of the players and The Illini Store was born. Through an online locker room, in-person pop-up stores, signing events and more we have been able to make a significant financial impact to the student-athletes.
With a focus on putting athletes first and being able to support ALL athletes regardless of sport, gender, school or any other qualifier we have been able to push the envelope in this space. An investment from Mark Cuban (yes, Shark and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban) was finalized in early 2022 and has been a catalyst for us to expand our NIL reach to more athletes in more schools.
The Illini Store continues to be a standard for how we work with other schools across the country. The investment from Cuban allows us to continue exploring the NIL space and figuring out how to best serve the athletes.
We know that we just hit you with a LOT of information about our business and what we do. We don’t expect you to retain it all. And, to be honest, I’m sure we’ve missed some things here. But, we do hope you think Campus Ink when you need apparel, signage, promotional products, brand management solutions and Fighting Illini gear.