Pad printing is an indirect photogravure process to transfer a 2D image upon a 3D object. Depressions are etched into a flat plate. These depressions are filled with ink and a smooth silicone pad (silicone is ink repellent) is used to pick up some ink on the plate and transfers it to the object. This stamp is called pad and gave this printing process its name. Pad Printing is used for printing on difficult-to-print on products in many industries including automotive, medical, apparel, and electronic objects, as well as electronic appliances, toys and sports equipment.
Pad printing is very versatile. Many objects can be printed with little effort. Thanks to consequent further and new developments in the field of consumables as inks, pads and plates continuously new application possibilities are found. At the same time technical innovations provide better solutions. Camera systems are increasingly used. Depending on the requirements and applications the position of the object in the jig and/or the printed image itself is checked. If required an automatic correction of the print can be configured, if for instance the printing position is not exact. Especially with high quality objects the use of cameras is useful to avoid the cost of misprints.
The pad printing process has undergone a rapid development in the past 40 years and is now one of the most important printing processes. The use of silicone rubber was instrumental in bringing about its success as a print medium (pad) because it allows easy deforming, it is ink repellent and as a result ensures an excellent ink transfer. Pad printing enables printing on uneven surfaces. The printed images vary from simple markings to multicolored photo prints. The pad printing process is flexible and versatile. To meet the demands of the market pad printing continually rises to new challenges. What started out as a method to print simple marks and inscriptions now goes beyond to the artistic decoration prints. The range of pad printing starts with functional markings such as on measuring cups or on switch buttons, and has been supplemented in the past years by an important factor: the product should look “Pretty” because today, look and design are significant factors that contribute to the sales success.
Open ink well systems, the older method of pad printing, used an ink-trough for the ink supply, which was located behind the printing plate. A flood bar pushed a pool of ink over the plate, and a doctor-blade removes the ink from the plate surface, leaving ink on the etched artwork area ready for the pad to pick up.
Sealed nk Cup systems employ a sealed container which acts as the ink supply, flood bar and doctor blade all at the same time. A ceramic ring with a highly polished working edge provides the seal against the printing plate.
When a printing cycle with an open ink well system is triggered, the ink that is lying on the plate is drawn back into the ink reservoir by a blade. In a sealed ink cup system the ink cup glides from its position over the printing image. The ring blade takes off the excess ink in the process. The ink only remains in the depressions of the plate.
The thinner in the ink evaporates, causing the ink to become sticky. The pad is then lowered onto the plates surface and the ink is transferred from the plate to the pad. The ink on the pad is then transferred to the to be printed surface. When being applied the ink detaches from the pad and stays on the object.
Printing pads play a significant role in pad printing: It is one of the deciding factors for producing excellent print results. Teca-Print manufactures high-quality printing pads tailored to the needs of pad printers and backed by a qualified team for support. With a commitment to excellence, silicon grade and pad shapes are continuously evaluated and improved. Printing pads are made of silicone and are available in different qualities, forms and hardness.
Printing Cliche Plates plays an important role in pad printing as it holds the printing image that is transferred by the pad to the object. The quality of the plate and the printing image affect the quality of the print directly.