Choosing a Pad Printing Machine

Partially Covered Ink Troughs Pad Printing Machines

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. While ink floods the cliche, the carriage covers it and reduces the solvent evaporation. When retracted, the mechanism covers the ink trough, further inhibiting solvent evaporation.

I have to admit a prejudice: this is my favourite press style if it is well engineered. Ink is contained in an ink trough located behind the cliche, as shown in the picture. The ink is pulled forward out of the trough by a spatula that is mounted on a horizontal carriage together with the doctor-blade assembly. (Think of the squeegee/floodbar assembly on a screen printing press.) While ink is being flooded across the cliche, the horizontal carriage covers it and reduces the solvent evaporation. When retracted, the mechanism covers the ink trough. Let me make it clear that this does not seal in the ink as with a closed-cup press, but if does inhibit the evaporation of sotvents. The ink/solvent mix will remain stable longer than in a completely open trough.

These presses must be robustly engineered. During the time that the doctor blade contacts the cliche, considerable turning occurs in the bearings at the rear of the carriage. Inadequate bearings will quickly degrade, and the carriage will become unstable, resulting in poor doctoring and uneven cliche wear. Even ideal systems must be kept clean and not overfilled with ink. Don't allow the spatula, which is normally free floating on these presses, to become fouled with ink or else it may stick up or down. My business partner spent a year growing red ink out of her blond hair when an inking mechanism stuck and then released suddenly because the operator had overfilled it with ink.

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.