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Pad Printing on Promotional Products

Pad printing is the grandaddy of promotional decoration, a straightforward technique that allows for easy branding in bold colours on flat surfaces. While the rise of digital printing options means a lot of people aren't going for basic pad printing anymore, the sheer affordability of pad printing and its clear effectiveness mean it won't be disappearing any time soon!

What is Promotional Pad Printing?

Pad printing is a branding process that allows you to brand your image or logo or text onto any surface which is solid, flat and smooth. A good example of this is your keyboard in front of you. Pad printing is the most popular way to decorate promotional items as it is low in cost and allows for the branding of colour. It gives a result which is quite crisp and attractive too. Pad printing is a process of transferring ink to a surface using a metal plate that is customed shape. Most of the promotional items you see can be pad printed on. This process allows large numbers of products to be decorated at the same time in a very high accuracy rate. The same logo printed on different products will use a separate metal plate adjusted to the best possible fit size for each product. This will ensure the final result to be the best and clearest.

pad printing machine in action

How Do We Brand Using Pad Printing?

To pad print, an image is required. For best results, we only accept Adobe Eps or Pdf file formats saved with vector curved outlines. We then take this artwork and create a positive film. (think along the lines of traditional film cameras where the image is reversed)

A printing plate is then created, and this is sometimes called a cliche. This printing plate is commonly silicone, plastic but can also be steel. Your artwork image is then transferred onto this surface. Each print colour in the same logo will need to create a different printing plate. There is a film on the plate which exposed to UV light to create the logo to be printed. This film is then etched onto the plate. Now, this printing plate is ready to stamp on to the promotional products. This setup process is necessary in the pad printing, and it is when setup cost is going to occur. This printing plate is very durable and can last thousand times of printing.

This plate is then used to pick up ink which is then literally stamped onto the product that needs to be branded. All throughout the process a technician will physically ink and stamp the promotional item to create the branding.

You may come across the term pretreatment as well. Some items are coated with a film or oil or have a glossy look about it. What this means is that treatment is required. This can occur after or before the print and can involve flaming or even oven baking. The ink used in pad printing is unique. There are different inks that will work with different plastics, and for glassware or ceramics, there are different additives to harden the paint that may be used. This will all affect the life and durability of the print. Pad printing can deteriorate over time, and the main causes are UV rays as well as everyday wear and tear. Scratching or impact with objects can also damage print finishes.

What Are The Advantages of Pad Printing?

  • Pad Printing has the advantage of being able to brand on any surface that is flat and smooth.
  • It can print smaller details reasonably Ok
  • It is low in cost and quite economical
  • With a Pad Printing machine all set up, it is easy to train new staff to use
  • Ink Drying is relatively quick allowing you to receive your branded promotional item quicker
  • Modern machines allow for branding on curved surfaces
  • Very fine detail can be achieved through pad printing.
  • It is also possible to print on a slightly curved or dimple surface.
  • You can use pad printing on any surface, eg. Metal, Plastic, wood, glass and ceramic.
  • Maximum numbers of colours can be printed determined by different machines setting. Depends on the different machine, multiple colour print or 4 colour process is achievable.

What Are The Disadvantages of Pad Printing?

  • Does not allow for full-colour printing
  • Does not allow for gradient colours. Only spot Pantone colours are possible
  • Although Ink dries the process quickly is still manual and requires time to print
  • Printing will chip off over time all with scratches
  • It cannot brand on a very large print area. The reason being the pad that absorbs the ink is very limited, and only a very small amount of ink can apply to the surface.
  • Pad printing is not recommended to be used on fabric material.
  • Pad printing is based on the Pantone colour chart for colour reference. In most cases, it can match the colour as close as possible, but it is not possible to match the print colour exactly to what you see on the computer monitor.

Pad Printing Example

Pad Printing On a Cup

What Items Commonly Use Pad Printing

- Pens / Rulers / Personalised flashdrives / Toys / Customised Tape Measures / Compact Mirror / Frisbees / Branded Yo Yos / Money Banks / Business Card Box / Keyrings / Printed Golf balls / Flashlights / Stressballs / Tools / Custom Pedometers/ Corporate compendiums / Personalized Thermal Mugs/ Pen&Pencils/ golf balls/ Golf tees & Makers/ Clocks & watches/ Name Tags/ Calculators/ Rulers/ Metal Photo Frames/ Keyrings/ Sunglasses/ CDs/ Coffee mugs & Cups/ Glassware/ Ceramic tableware/ Gift boxes/ Pen Knives/ Acrylic Office Items/ Thermo Flasks & mugs/ Flashlights/ Stress Toys/ Waterbottles and much much More!

pad printing machine

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