What is pad printing?
Pad printing is a unique printing process used for transferring 2-D images onto 3-D objects. Please refer to our What is Pad Printing page for more information.
What’s the difference between pad printing and screen printing?
The difference between these two technologies is right in the names. Pad printing utilizes a silicon pad to transfer an image from an etched cliché plate to a product, and screen printing utilizes a mesh screen with a stencil that blocks ink everywhere but your image.
Pad printing is great for printing smaller images onto 3d or odd shaped objects, and screen printing is better for printing larger images or apparels.
What’s the difference between pad printing and digital printing?
Pad printing is a direct printing technology where the ink is physically picked up and transferred to the products. Digital printing is an indirect printing technology where the ink is sprayed to the product from a nozzle system. Each may have their own benefits, but pad printing still offers a higher-quality print and faster throughput while also allowing for specialty applications where digital is very limited with types of inks that can be applied.
How do I determine if pad printing is the best printing technology for my project?
Determining the best technology for your application can be a difficult task. Typically, the key factors are what is being printed, the shape and material of the product being printed, and what requirements might be involved. Please see our applications page to see what products are commonly printed with this technology or contact us to discuss your project needs.
Can pad printing be used for other solutions aside from ink?
Yes! Pad printing technology is also capable of transferring adhesives, lubricants, paste, wax, conductive materials and more. Please contact us to discuss your project needs.
Can I use pad printing to produce photographic images?
Yes, pad printing technology is capable of printing photographic images following a CMYK process. This process is much more challenging than standard spot printing, and requires a higher level of expertise in all categories of manufacturing of consumables and parameters of the printers. Here at Teca-Print USA, we pride ourselves in being capable of printing one of the highest resolution CMYK prints possible with this technology.
How fast is pad printing?
There are many variables that can determine the throughput of this technology. This includes the difficulty of the print, the speed of the operator, and how many layers are required. An experienced operator with a standard print can achieve up to 1,000 prints per hour. We do have options for increasing speed by customizing your printer with a carre system or adding automation to your process. For more information, please see our machine catalogues or contact us to discuss your project needs.
How easy is pad printing?
The level of difficulty really depends on the complexity of the image and the design of the object being printed. Even simple jobs however require a level of experience and a proper procedure to be successful.
How do I choose the right printer for printing my application?
We carry a wide variety of pad printers to meet any printing requirements. We also offer customization for unique applications. Please view our machines or contact us to help determine the best choice for you.
What’s the biggest image I can pad print?
It’s possible to print images up to 140mm in diameter, however, the feasibility decreases for larger images and becomes more expensive for the pads required. Pad printing is generally much more suitable for smaller images and fonts. Please see our applications page for common product examples and sizes.
What’s the smallest image I can pad print?
This will depend on the complexity and detail of the image but pad printing can produce incredibly small images and fonts. Note, smaller prints do require a higher level of experience and care.
Can pad printing be automated?
Yes, we have experience in designing many automated systems that include pick and place robotics, feeding systems, conveyors, offload, camera inspection and more. This can also include secondary operations unrelated to the pad printing process. Please contact us today to discuss custom automation.
Would Teca-Print supplies work for a machine that I purchased from another vendor?
Yes, our products are designed to be universal for any type of pad printing machine. Please view our consumables and printer pads to see if we have what you need. If not, contact us directly and we’ll customize a solution for your project.
Does climate impact the printing process?
The printing process can be greatly impacted by the climate of your printing environment. It is recommended to maintain a tempered environment between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit with relative humidity levels between 50 and 60 percent.
It’s very common that maintaining a proper climate may be out of your control. In that case, you’ll need to cater to the climate by implementing strategic adjustments within your parameters and ink formulation. For example, a hot or humid may require the use of less solvent in your ink or to increase delay times. If it’s cold and dry, you may need to use more thinner, a retarder and/or decrease delay times.
What is a printing pad?
Printing pads are three dimensional objects molded out of silicon rubber and come in many shapes, sizes, and durometers (hardness). They are used as the carrier for picking up and transferring the ink to the product.
How are pads made?
Pads are made through a process of mixing raw silicon, silicon oil, and a catalyst. The mix is poured into special molds that take the shape of the desired pad. Wooden bases are adhered to the bottom of each pad for securing to the printer.
How long do pads last?
Pads last for approximately 50,000 impressions. This can depend highly on the care taken to the pads during production, the storing of the pads between projects, and the properties of the substrate being printed.
How do I choose the best pad for my application?
You’ll want to print with the largest pad possible that fits your image, part and machine parameters. The shape should resemble the image being printed and we have many pads that are designed for specific applications. Have a look at our standard pad options available in our Shoppe or contact us to inquire about other pad options.
How do I clean a pad?
The best way to clean your pad is with a soft, lint free cloth that has been dampened with the ink thinner being used for your project. This will remove any contaminants from the surface of the pad and will also aid with ink pick-up and transfer. For simply removing dry ink, dust or debris from the pad during production, use clear packing tape.
How should I store my pads?
Store your pads in a cool, dry environment away from dust, debris and direct sunlight. They should remain standing upright on their base without coming into contact with any other objects to prevent permanent dents or creases on the surface of the pads.
What is the relevance of pad durometer?
Pad durometer refers to the hardness of the pad, which essentially dictates how the pad will mold around your product 9or not). We carry 4 different pad durometer options available for any of our pads. If you are unsure of what durometer is best for your product, our Customer Service department will be happy to help.
What is a cliché plate?
A cliché plate contains the image or font being printed, etched into the surface. During the printing process, ink fills the etching so the pad can pick up the ink and transfer it to the part. Learn more about clichés here.
Are there different types of plates?
Yes. There two main types of plate materials used for creating cliché plates; photopolymer and steel. There are also subcategories of these two materials, each having benefits for customer needs. Photopolymer is great for low volume print projects or when changing art frequently. Steel is used for long duration projects with consistent artwork. For more information on plate types, please see our cliché plates page.
How long do plates last?
Photopolymer plates last 50,000 impressions or more depending on how well you clean the etching after each run, the cleanliness of your environment and quality requirements. The image will slightly fade further into cycles due to the impact from the ring blade or straight blade scraping the top of the etch during the process.
How are plates made?
Cliché plates are made through an exposure process. A film-positive is created with a desired screened image or font and adhered to the plate. The plate is then exposed to UV light for a specific time. Each material has a special coating that is UV light sensitive and therefore cures everywhere except the area of your screened image. The plates then go through an etching process to remove the sensitive material to a desired depth. Photopolymer is washed out with a solvent and steel plates are soaked in a sodium chemical.
What do I choose the right type of plate for my application?
The main type of material will depend on the volume of prints required. Photopolymer should be used if your volume is under 50,000 or if you plan on changing artwork. Steel should be used if you have a high volume of prints and if your image or font is going to be consistent. We also offer different categories of each material to benefit from cost depending on your requirements.
How do I clean my cliché plate?
For both photopolymer and steel, use the same thinner you have added to your ink to clean your plate. The thinner is best for removing ink from the etch while also leaving an oily finish which for steel plates prevents rust. Using a fiber cloth can also be helpful to remove ink that is deep in the etch.
Are there different types of pad printing inks?
Yes. We carry a wide variety of inks that are all specific to material type and requirements.
How do I select a proper ink for my application?
We offer a testing service in which we apply multiple series of ink to your product with different additives to formulate the best combination for your application. This includes testing for adhesion, opacity on the product, resistance to chemicals, resistance to UV-light and any other special requirements you may have. Learn more on our services page.
What other chemicals should I be adding to my ink?
Ink requires a solvent to dilute the ink to a proper viscosity and also acts as the evaporating agent during the pick-up and transfer process. Thinner is the standard solvent used for most inks. There are specific thinners for each ink series that can benefit adhesion and evaporation speeds. Retarder is another form of thinner and can be used for very slow evaporation if required in your process. In most cases a hardener is required for fast curing and adhesion purposes.
Can I add any type of thinners and hardeners to my ink?
No. Every ink series has specific options for chemicals that can be mixed with them. It’s highly recommended not to use other chemicals then the ones specified. We offer a service in which we will test which inks and chemicals will work best for your application. For more information please see our services page.
Can I order custom colors?
Of course! Our inks specialists are capable of mixing any color within the pantone series and can also color match from a provided sample.
What is the pot life for ink?
The pot life for ink will depend on the chemicals added and the climate of the printing environment. For a standard ink formula, you can achieve up to 8 hours of pot life. If you are using an aggressive hardener and have a hot environment, the pot life will likely be shorter. You may find that the image degrades towards the end of a pot life as well so this could also depend on quality requirements.