Transfer pad printing, commonly known as pad printing is a popular printing method for products of odd shapes, and sizes as they can be printed on without any sacrifice to detail. Pad printing is used for small sized promotional products such as promotional pens, mugs, stress items etc.
First, your approved artwork is generated using a laser printer to produce a film positive. The plate is then exposed for a specific time, rinsed in warm water then dried and exposed. The printing plate is then placed onto the pad printing machine with a sealed ink cup sitting over it. The ink cup fills the image with ink then moves away taking all excess ink and exposing the etched image, which is filled with ink. The top layer of ink becomes sticky as soon as it's exposed to the air and that's how the ink adheres to the silicon transfer pad and later to the substrate. The transfer pad presses down onto the printing plate momentarily. As the pad is compressed, it pushes air outward and causes the ink to transfer from the etched artwork area onto the pad. The transfer pad compresses down onto the substrate, transferring the ink layer picked up from the printing plate to the substrate surface. Then, it lifts off the substrate, returning to the home position, which completes one print cycle.
Due to the fact that the silicon transfer pad is able to conform to the surface that it contacts, there's significantly more flexibility achieved in pad printing. This produces a cleaner and more precise image on your promotional products!