Pad Printing Articles

A Basic Overview of The Pad Printing Process

Article by Peter Kiddell

The basic padprinting process is simple enough in nature. This article will show how the padprinting process works and why it is especially suited for printing on irregular shaped objects (a.k.a. substrate) as well as flat surfaces.

The key elements to the padprinting process are the pad, the cliche', and the ink. Each of these elements are explained in greater detail in subsequent articles also found on this site. Together, these three elements allow more flexibilty in the types of products which can be printed using this process, than any other printing process.

The basic steps as illustrated below are as follows:

  1. The cliche' step - the image on the cliche' is inked via doktor blade sytern or inkcup while the pad travels to the image.
  2. The transfer step - the pad picks up the inked image from the diche' and travels to the subsbate.
  3. The print step - the pad makes contact with the substrate using just the right amount of pressure to deliver the image.

The Cliche

The desired image to print is etched into a plate called a diche. The cliche is usualIy made of a polymer coating on a metal backing or of hardened steel. Once placed on the printer, the cliche is inked by either an open inkwell doktoring system or by a ctosed inkcup sliding across the image. The differences between cliche' types and how to chose the right type is explained in greater detail in the article titled Selectina the. Correct clicher for your Pad Printing Job by Julian Joffe. In this article you'll also learn how the cliche controls the how much ink is applied to the product.

The Ink

Padprintjng inks are just as versatile as the other elements in the process. Not only are they available in every color imagineable, they also come in a variety of series which are specific to the type of substrate to be printed on. Different materials react differently to the various elements in inks. For example, the ink used for printing on certain plastics may not adhere to glass or aluminum. There are medical grade inks for use in the medical industry, as well as edible inks which can be pad printed onto candies or other food products. As you'll read in the article Understandina and USina Pad.Pri~tina1 hks by Peter Kjddell, final appearance and adhesion quality is dependant on other factors such as the viscosity and evaporation characteristics of the ink.

The Pad

After the cliche' is inked, the silicon pad then picks up the image and transfers it to the product. The pads are made of a silicon material which can vary in durometer (hardness). The properties of the silicon allow the inks to temporarily stick to the pad, yet fully release from the pad when it comes into contact with the product to be printed. The durometer of the pad dictates how the image molds to the product. For example, to print an image on a basketball, a harder pad will get more of the image into the textured surface. Likewise, a larger image to be placed on a flat (or nearly flat) surface would normally require a substantial amount of down pressure to print the entire image with a hard pad. By using a softer durometer, the image can be placed using less pressure and thus avoiding some complicatiorts associated with too much pressure. For more information on the pad see the article titled Understanding the Pad in Pad Printing.


  • Single Color 
  • 130 mm Ink Cup
  • 115 mm Printing Diameter
  • 150x300 mm Cliche Sizes


  • Single Color 
  • 160 mm Ink Cup
  • 145 mm Printing Diameter
  • 150x360mm Cliche Sizes