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What Is Pad Printing And How Will It Benefit My Business?

What Is Pad Printing And How Will It Benefit My Business?
31/03/2019

Pad printing has its history and origins going back hundreds of years and started out as a method to print onto delicate watch faces. A pigs bladder was used as the transfer pad but as the process evolved over time, the silicone transfer pad was developed. Once this happened, the pad printing process became a practical way of mass producing prints onto a wide array of products. Products with complex shapes that never used to be decorated in any way could now be printed with detailed images.

What is a pad printing machine? Pad printers can be fairly compact machines but do come in a wide variety of sizes depending on the application and number of print colours. Desktop models, compact in-line machines for high speed production facilities and freestanding behemoths with multiple stations for holding products are all available to name just a few. The machine holds the silicone transfer pad and the product to be printed securely while the transfer pad is pressed onto the inked plate and the image is transferred onto the product.

Each printing plate or cliché is etched with customised artwork and a process that also adds a series of dots to the artwork. These dots are also referred to as a screen and they serve to support the doctor blade as it inks the printing plate or cliché. Without these supporting dots, the doctor blade would pull ink out of the image in an uncontrolled way as it passes over during the inking step.

Silicone transfer pads are available in a very wide variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate the many products that need to be pad printed. In addition, if a product requires it, a silicone transfer pad can be custom made to suit the application. It is possible to print a number of different colours onto a product using the pad printing process. Five colour process pad printing is also possible with the correct quality printing plates.

High speed pad printers such as the Colibri Evo can produce up to 3000 prints per hour with a print area of 60 x 60 mm, while pad printing machines with super large image areas such as the Evo Maxi Slider can print up to 600 products per hour with an image area of up to 700mm x 170mm. Such large image areas were up to now the sole domain of screen printing but gives manufacturers a huge amount of scope in the printing of their products.

There are many different formats of pad printing machines available to ensure that just about every possible application is covered.

Advantages of pad printing A major benefit of pad printing is that it achieves high quality results on most substrates of virtually any shape and has the ability to print on 3D surfaces. Think about computer keyboards and the many knobs and switches in the average car as examples. An additional benefit is that the quality produced when pad printing is higher than that offered by screen printing because the resolution is excellent.

In-house pad printing Many businesses opt to maintain and operate their own in-house pad printing machines, as this is an extremely cost-effective system to set up and for manufacturers it can literally save thousands by printing products in-house rather than sending them out. Printing in-house also cuts down on time and allows many opportunities such as offering customers who buy in bulk the opportunity to have their own logos or other details added to a product they may be selling on.

Operating a pad printer is relatively easy, so machine operators can learn all the tricks of the trade in an extremely short time. What’s more, the compact size of many pad printers means they can be fitted into small areas provided the operator can arrange good workflow with the products waiting to be printed versus those freshly printed.

Drying pad printed products In most cases, freshly pad printed products would be cured in a tunnel dryer or conveyor oven to accelerate the curing process and ensure that products can be shipped out as quickly as possible without damage occurring to the printed image. Some products can also be allowed to air dry, but this can be false economy and will require additional storage space. Curing or drying requirements depend on the type of product being printed and the ink used.

Pad printing applications You can’t use pad printers for every application. For example, printing the main image onto a product such as a t-shirt is not possible and is the domain of screen printing. However, pad printers are becoming more popular to print the care labels directly onto garments, and this avoids the need for a scratchy label inside the garment which can irritate the user. Pad printing is also not ideal for products such as ceramic mugs as the layer of ink that is deposited is very thin and may not be ideal to withstand the rigours of life when compared to a screen printed image that has been thoroughly cured, or ideally fired in a kiln.

That said, pad printers are a very cost-effective solution for small prints, such as bar codes or labels, and for more intricate printing where the quality is essential. Pad printing is also a fantastic solution for any kind of 3D object or products with an unusual shape – think golf balls for instance! In reality, pad printing is widely used throughout industry to decorate a vast range of manufactured products and components in one way or another.

Popular uses for pad printing include:

Adding labels or design details after the manufacturing process. For example, printing care labels or manufacturer logos direct onto garments after they have been made.

Applying promotional logos or marketing information to a wide variety of promotional gifts and give-aways such as pens, clocks, calculators and many more.

Adding print details to a variety of concave, convex or textured surfaces is such as golf balls, computer keyboards, medical equipment or glasses. Printing shoe heels with decorative designs such as mock cork finishes. Pad printing machines from Dalesway Print Technology We supply a variety of pad printers, including single colour, two colour and four and five colour printers. All machines are easy to use and feature advanced control panels for accuracy and greater operational control. Machines can be used with either steel, water or alcohol washable polymer plates, so you can also opt to make your own pad printing plates or clichés in-house.

Our paper block pad printer is an ideal solution for businesses looking to print promotional paper blocks and this machine can print up to 500 full colour paper blocks per hour.

Take the time to browse our website to find out more about our range of durable and efficient pad printing machines and accessories.

If you need advice about how pad printing may suit your next project, get in touch with Dalesway to discuss your requirements in more detail.

We supply a variety of durable, top quality pad printers at affordable prices. All pad printers are European manufactured to the highest quality standards and are supplied with a five year warranty.

For more information follow this link: What Is Pad Printing And How Will It Benefit My Business?

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