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Pad Printing


Pad Printing
As the name suggests, pad printing involves transferring ink from a silicone pad to the object you want printed. Think of it as a process similar to using the rubber stamps that hobbyists often collect (though it’s obviously a bit more advanced than that). Using a machine that holds both the pad and the promotional product steady, the pad is pressed into an inked plate etched into the shape of your desired artwork. The pad is then pressed into the actual object, creating a crisp printed image.

Unlike screen printing, pad printing is a relatively modern process, though it did also achieve mainstream notoriety in the 1960s. Since the technique’s primary advantage was that it could be used to print unusually shaped objects that couldn’t normally be printed, it became extremely popular in the Swiss watchmaking industry.

Silicone, ink, and plate technology gradually improved over time. Now, using robotic machinery and even laser guided systems, everything from coasters to plates to coffee mugs can be pad printed. The technique is even used to print edible “ink” on certain types of candy.

The process provides excellent resolution, making it a better option when working with halftones, defined edges, and other fine details.

However pad printing is limited in terms of speed, print area and ink opacity, and it can sometimes create slight variations in tone on large, solid areas of color. Multiple colors must still be applied separately during pad printing, which means that registration errors may occur.

Pad printing is quite reliable, albeit slower and more expensive. Overall, it’s the technique of choice for unusually shaped promotional products, especially those with delicately printed details.