Choosing a Pad Printing Machine

How to decide what pad printing machine to buy

To enable you to judge which press to buy, you will at least need answers to all of the questions shown under Purchasing Considerations. Most are obvious, but incorrect assumptions can be very expensive. When you are satisfied that you understand your own printing needs thoroughly, look for the following 20 factors from your suppliers and their equipment:

  1. Good technical support
  2. Sturdy machine construction
  3. Ease of adjustment of all press functions
  4. Enough distance between pad holder and ctiche to accept a sufficient depth of pad
  5. Doctor-blade holder able to take flexible blades as well as rigid, with a provision that the flexible blade can be set at a shallower angle
  6. A large enough cliche area for the pad to fully spread outside the image area.
  7. The output rate for prints of acceptabte quality (not the cycle time of the machine)
  8. Pad dwell, which enables you to adjust the precise speed of pickup and print actions as well as the speed of the pad stroke
  9. Pickup and print positions that can be adjusted both front to back and side to side
  10. Fast setup and teardown
  11. Cost of spare ink wells, spatulas, pad holders, blade holders, etc.
  12. For multicolour applications, X, Y, and rotational adjustment on each cliche
  13. X, Y, rotational, and height adjustment for the fixture
  14. Easy cleanup
  15. Easy access to ail operational parts of the machine
  16. Standard pneumatic, electrical, and electronic components
  17. In-house maintenance plan or service contract
  18. Cost of replacement cups
  19. Ability of cup edges to be remachined
  20. Good technical support (I've repeated this one on purpose)

And finally ....

Before you purchase a machine, atways have several suppliers carry out print trials for you. (Obviously, you must have enough of the part on hand to send to these vendors - they can't do meaningful trials on a part that hasn't been prototyped yet.) Give your suppliers sufficient time to carry out these tests, but insist on being there to see the final trials run. Unless you are an expert, never accept that "it will get better in production." If your supplier cannot achieve an acceptable result, it is unlikely that you can. Agree with your supplier on a standard that is achievabk in production. Talk to other people who have purchased from the same vendor.

Lastly don't think of the press as a standalone machine. It must fit into your entire production process. Product must flow efficiently to and from the machine. Cleaning, setup, changeover, and all the other factors of actually using the machine in your shop must be taken into consideration. If you follow these guidelines and the recommendations from previous articles, you'l1 have a sound pr-ess in your shop that will provide effective, repeatable results.

Choosing a Pad Printing Machine - Introduction

In the padprinting industry purchasing decisions are often based on asswnptions that are simply nuts - literally.

Manually Operated Pad Printing Presses

Except in cases where pad printing will be done on a very small scale, manual machines are not even entry level anymore. However, some may be useful for testing purposes.

Open Ink Trough Pad Printing Machines

In these original semiautomatic machines, the inking mechanism is mounted above the cliche. Although more modern models ha we better features, contro/lirrg ink condition fluctuations.

Partially Covered Ink Troughs

In these machines, ink is contained in a trough behind the cliche. The ink is pulled forward by a spatula mounted on a horizontal carriage with the doctor-blade assembly.

Sealed Ink Cup Pad Printing Machines

These presses are designed to contain the ink in a cup that is turned upside down and pressed firmly against the cliche, sealing in the ink.

Reciprocating Cliches Pad Printing Machines

In these models, instead of the pad moving back and forth from cliche to substrate, the cliche moves out of the way, while the pad remains stationary.

Rotary Pad Printing Presses

These presses use a rotary drum-type sllicone pad, usually in conjunction with a steel cylinder cllche into which the desfgn is etched.

Total Colour Transfer System

This technique, used almost exclusively in ceramic decoration, combines pad and screen printing.

Carousel Style Pad Printing System

This multicolour pad-printing system uses a cambination of two rotary tables and a rotating pad carousel.

Non-Horizontal Pad Printing

Machines such as this are suited for printing onto surfaces that are vertical or angled.

Computer Numeric Control (CNC)

In presses with computer numeric control (CNC), the substrate is stationary and the pads are programmed to print one image at a time onto the item.

Pad Printing Press Options

Most manufacturers provide a variety of add-ons for their presses.

How to decide what machine to buy

To enable you to judge which press to buy, you will at least need answers to all of the questions shown under Purchasing Considerations.

Pad Printing Machine Purchasing Considerations

Trying to decide which pad-printing machine to buy? Start by answering the following questions.