When you are creating a promotional product for your brand, there is a high possibility that your printing company will use pad printing or screen printing to do this type of work. Although it is always better to leave it in the hands of the experts, it does not hurt to have an idea of what each process implies, below we explain some of the differences between pad printing and screen printing.
Its very name brings a great clue to how pad printing works. This process involves transferring ink from a silicone pad onto the object you want to print. To give you an idea of how this process is, remember those stamps that you probably used when you were a child to make crafts but now with this method it is much more complex and sophisticated.
The printing machine holds the pad and the object to be printed with great stability to press an ink plate that contains the shape of what we are going to print where the pad is pressed with this plate and then transmit it to the object for Last let it air dry, Pretty simple right!
Common applications for pad printing
Pad printing is typically used for objects with more complicated three-dimensional geometries or irregular shapes and surfaces. An example would be rubber balls as they require the use of a pad to transfer the image to their round shape.
Control panel boards with raised surface details, such as computer parts, also use pad printing. For industrial tools, pad printing is a great idea for printing onto objects like hammers and other oddly shaped items that you couldn’t achieve without customizing the rubber pads and image plates.
Pad printing can also be found in a variety of industries, electronic components, industrial buttons, promotional items, home appliances, toys, specialty consumer products, and sporting goods among others. Pad printing can be used on a variety of different materials such as plastic, glass, metal, ceramics, silicones, food, and pharmaceuticals.
Pad printing is a relatively modern process and especially compared to screen printing and is often preferred as it makes it easier to print objects with unusual shapes.
Depending on the surface on which the pad printing is going to be printed, it uses inks that are divided into 2 categories: the first would be one-component ink which is ideal for thermoplastic surfaces such as PVC, polyethylene, polystyrene, and polyethylene, while the second division represents an ink and a hardening chemical substance, used on objects that will be subject to high mechanical stress or chemical exposure.
Pad Printing Machinery
In the Differences Between Pad Printing and Screen Printing, pad printing machines consist of three main components: printing ink, image plates, and rubber or silicone printing pads. Depending on the project, pad printing systems have variations in shape and size, but all use the same theme, which is the transfer of printing ink from the printing pad to a three-dimensional object.
The screen printing process involves creating an ink blocking stencil which is applied to a woven mesh, the stencil forming an area where the inks are then transferred.
We cannot leave silk-screen printing too far behind, since today it is the most used method for printing on T-shirts. This technique was used by ANDY WARHOL in the seventies to print the faces of MARILYN MONROE or ELVIS PRESLEY and until now the technique is widely used.
Although screen printing is correct for larger designs that are based on only a couple of colors, it can be very useful if you need several colors, since it must be applied separately one by one, that is one of the big Differences between pad printing. and screen printing, although there is also the risk of colors being blended in an unwanted way, however this could generally be solved by overprinting (printing one color on top of another).
Screen printing can take a long time to set up and clean, which is why most companies tend to outsource any screen printing, rather than in-house.
Common applications for screen printing
Screen printing is extremely versatile compared to other printing processes. Since it works with a wide range of inks and surfaces, we can use them in a wide variety of industries. The most common applications are for clothing designs, balloons, artwork, stickers, signs, labels, visual graphics fabrics, and consumer product labels. In general, companies in the textile industry are the ones that use screen printing the most for fabrics used in upholstery, bedding, and other household items.
Companies and organizations around the world use screen printing for products related to promotion, brand recognition and marketing, spanning the technology, military and industrial sectors.
Screen printing is also used on printed electronic objects, machinery, and control panels to provide important information, warnings, or instructions for use about electrical or mechanical instruments.
Here is an infographic about the process of handmade screen printing that can be very useful.
Advantages and disadvantages of screen printing
- One of the main advantages of using pad printing would be that you can use it to print on three-dimensional surfaces and products of all shapes and sizes, no matter if the objects have uneven surfaces and having excellent print quality.
- Pad printing is also very useful when printing on delicate objects, if you need to print fine subjects, you will find that the resolution of pad printing is much better than that of screen printing.
- Some companies prefer to run their own pad printing because the installation costs are low, adding that this equipment does not take up more space and the processes are quite easy to learn.
- Pad printing can also be excellent to achieve precise finishes, it is a bit limited when we talk about its speed because you must apply several colors separately and if you are looking for a method of reliability and versatility, believe me, this method is spectacular.
- An advantage of screen printing is that an image of a single screen is produced, we can enlarge or reduce it according to the size we need, with which we can print large or small images of the same design.
- Screen printing needs less process up front compared to other printing techniques. However, you will still have to place different screens on an object to have various color combinations.
- Screen printing has several advantages thanks to its ink’s ability to completely hide the material under it, it is an excellent approach for designs that use multiple colors.
- In screen printing the printed images are sharp and defined, giving us a high quality design transfer
- Traditional hand screen printing methods are very fast and affordable for beginners, technology has evolved to include automatic machines such as screen printing presses and rotary screen printing. New screen printing technologies have recently started to exponentially increase production volume and decrease turnaround time.
- Another difference between pad printing and screen printing is that pad printing is how we can manage to customize both the rubber pads and the image plates according to the design requirements. While pad printing tends to be more expensive, the process gives extremely accurate and reliable image results.