Pad Printing Pads: Is Pad Size Important?
Size minimizes distortion
An important variable to consider in quality pad printing is the pad size, especially as it relates to the image size. In pad printing, the larger the pad size used, the less the image is likely to distort in the printing process.
- Pad size is measured in length, width and height without the base.
- As a general rule, your pad should measure 10% to 20% larger than the image’s length and width.
- Remember the “throat” – or the distance between the cliché and the body of the machine – often determines the maximum pad size you can use.
Special pad printing pads for large images
In some situations, a large image area must be printed and the machine does not have the power to compress such a heavy pad in a smooth motion.
Two solutions to this problem are available:
- The first is to use a pad with a hollow interior that provides the same surface hardness. The hollow interior also reduces the cost of silicone rubber used in a large pad.
- The second option is a dual-hardness pad, where the core of the pad is made of a softer material and the outer layer is the harder rubber. Either method helps, but using dual-hardness allows for a more stable pad.
- Of course a third option would be to use a different imaging process like screen printing.
- There’s another unusual pad configuration that is like an inflated pig bladder. Specialized machines use hollow pads inflated with air just prior to ink pick-up. The pad stays inflated until it comes into contact with the substrate. Then the air is released. The deflated pad can conform to a wider area of the substrate, printing up to 180 degrees compared to 100 degrees with a standard pad on a cylinder or sphere.
Join the Conversation! Have you had problems with print distortion or image size? Click Cylindrical Printing Pads or call us at 800-272-7764 for our suggestions on pad size usage. We love your challenges!