It takes extensive consideration into the equipment, process, and medium to select the best graphical printing technology for you. Pad printing and screen printing are two main printing methods used today.When you transfer designs to different kinds of surfaces, it’s crucial to understand the disadvantages and advantages of pad printing and screen printing.


Pad printing also named tampo printing or tampography, is a kind of gravure printing in which a silicon pad transfers a 2-D image on laser etched printing plate to a 3-D object. The first instance of pad printing in industry can be traced back to Swiss watchmakers who imprinted watch faces with the process. Now, pad printing has become a modern process, with specialized machine named a pad printing machine stamping an image or design onto a 3-D object. Pad printing machine consists of following key pad printing supplies: image plate, printing ink, silicone printing pad and rubber. Decided by the project, pad printing systems vary in size and shape but all utilize the same concept. Like using rubber stamp on paper, pad printing transfers printing ink from the pad onto a 3-D object.

6 Steps for Pad Printing

Step 1:Put the closed ink cup on the etched artwork area on pad print plate to cover the image and fill it with ink. It is called home position.

Step 2: Move the closed ink cup away from the etched artwork area and take all excessive pad printer ink and expose the etched image filled with ink. As soon as the top layer of pad printer ink is exposed to air, it becomes tacky. By this way, the pad printer ink adheres to the pad and then to the printed product.

Step 3:Press the pad down onto the plate immediately. The compressed pad pushed the air outward and lift the ink from the etched artwork area on the pad.

Step 4:Pick up the tacky film in the etched artwork area on the pad when the pad lifts away. A little ink stays in the pad print plate.

Step 5:The ink cup moves covering the etched artwork area of the plate when the pad moves forward. Preparing for the next cycle, the ink cup refill in the etched artwork image of the transfer plate.

Step 6: The pad compresses the product to transfer the ink layer from the print pad plate to the surface of products. Later, the pad lifts the substrate and goes back to the normal position.


Pad printing machine is used to print difficult products in various industries. Printing International especially concentrates on certain product groups including:

  • Manual pad printer for gel capsule and coated tablet in pharmacy
  • Decorating  lipstick holder, perfume bottle in cosmetics
  • Manual pad printer for sportswear printing
  • Beverage packaging
  • Manual pad printing machine to print gum and coated sweets
  • Printing component of medical device in medical industry

Also, manual pad printing machine and automatic pad printing machine also can be used for materials of tranfer function like adhesive, lubricant, flavor, conducive ink, nutritional additive and natural dye.

01. Adhesive 

Lots of manufactures consider applying adhesive a labor-intensive and time-wasting process. Translucent or small part calls for precise application, often driving up profits. When taking clean-up nd waste into account, people started to seek for alternatives to adhesive application. One method as it is, adhesive film also produces waste materials. The ideal solution is the pad printing machine allowing for precise viscous liquid deposition. The closed ink cup stops the glue drying out, and the plate can be etched to the exact line thinness and desire depth.

The pad once adjusted, deposits adhesive of the same amount exactly in the same place each time. The finished part like a cell phone lens, as part of automative process, can be set in a customized machine shuttle fixture holding the part in home position as s the glue applied to its edge. Then the lens is transferred to a robot arm setting the cell phone onto the glued area. Further automation is able to transport the joined part onto another conveyor sending them through a dry tunnel or down the assembly line. Heat-cured or ultraviolet adhesive can be applied in the process, so can lots of solvent-based glues not too hydrophilic or aqueous.


Lubricant is another hands-off and exacting utilization for pad printing machine. Also, in the area, precision is challenging and waste is messy and costly. Without integrating different and new material like dry or powered film lubricant to re-invent the manufacturing process, pad printing machine offers a reliable and simple mechanical solution.

No matter it is grease, oil or other substances reducing firction, it can be printed with a pad printing machine as long as long as it is able to cling to a silicon pad and be altered to another substrate. For manual pad printing machine suits well for 3-D items like bearing, hinge, housing and threaded part, every production line manufacturing similar component is able to integrate the tech into the process. Especially when catastro[hic failure in adjacent mechanism caused by misapplication, a manual pad printing machine or automatic pad printing machine can realize precise lubricant application, such as fine line, squiggle, miniscule dot or angular confinement.

03.Flavor, natural dye, and nutritional additive

Using a manual pad printing machine or automatic pad printing machine in flavor is another area with its potential beginning to be explored. It’s more than a way of high-tech to decorate with natural dye, pad printing machine can also apply nutritional additive or flavor to the surface of receptive food. The pad of manual or automatic pad printing machine is of different hardness, allowing end-users to select the pad “durometer ‘ depending on the substrate strength. For example, printing a flavor into an antacid hollow requires a softer pad in case of the tablet be crushed, while a gum needs a harder pad able to wrap 180° around.

04. Conductive ink

Progresses in the technology of conductive ink allow for a pad printing machine used in touch-key application, circuit board, etc. It reduces the material and process cost, like leaving out the soldered wire, gold plating or graved copper. For instance, replacing gold plating with carbon ink with better robustness than the expensive material and lower electrical resistance than copper. More and more economic sectors are utilizing conductive ink for REFID that is streamlining shipping and inventory rapidly in the marketplace around the world.

There are other applications of conductive ink like transistor, electrode, sensor, antenna and so on. Moreover, pad printing machine can print on recessed, curved or uneven surfaces, making it an advantage over traditional flatbed method of material position. But, like printing adhesive, conductive ink need be solvently based. Materials too hydrophilic or too aqueous cannot be transferred by pad printing effectively.



Tempo Printing provides incredible image resolution and clarity,  able to vary edges, tones and details of a printed image. Pad Printing is applied for objects with flatter surface and simpler geometry, while tempography is versatile for 3-D objects with unusual shapes,  larger production volume, irregular surface, and automated consistency.

02. Customized Pad and Plate

Pad Printing is able to customize image plate and the rubber pad according to customers’ design requirements. Although pad printing is more expensive, it produces extremely
reliable and accurate image results. More modernized screen printer includes precise robotic printing and accuracy measurement guided by laser, able to accommodate products of a wider range. Pad Printer also can cooperate with products of different heights to print images on higher and lower areas at the same time.

03.Ink Composition

Ink composition is an advantage for pad printing. Selecting the proper ink is ultimately decided by the printed surfaces. There are two categories of surfaces: ink of one component and two components. One
component ink is suitable for thermoplastic surfaces like Polyethylene, Polystyrene, PVC, and Polypropylene. Two component ink with features of hardening chemical and ink is commonly used for objects subject to high mechanical stress or chemical exposure.


01.Motive Size

The size of motive is limited by pad, plate, and efficiency of the pad printer. The diameter of the biggest efficiently printed motive is 30 cm currently.

02. Layer Thickness For Ink Film

The pad process uses plate with depth up to  20-25µm. Therefore traditional inks result in ink film of approx. 7µm. The layer thickness can be increased with multi-layer printing, but rough particle is difficult to print efficiently.

03. Printing Speed

The printing speed is relatively slower for limited pretreatment of pad printing machine.


Screen Printing can be traced back to 960 AD of Chinese Song Dynasty. Otherwise called as serigraphy or silk screening,  it has a woven mesh screen made by steel, polyester, or nylon.

5 Steps for Screen Printing

Step 1:Usually, the mesh is coated by a special emulsion blocking specific area on the screen to form the image to be transferred. It can also produce various screen depending on the shape and size of the object which your design transfers onto.

Step 2:The screen mesh is tensioned and stretched with metal frame or wood. It enables the operator to press ink into the selected area named substrate, where the design is transferred onto the object’s surface.

Step 3:After the screen is placed properly and secured on the substrate, the handler pours the ink over the screen.

Step 4:A sharp-edged roller, blade,or squeegee presses the ink through the stencil. Print Ink travels through the open mesh area to transfer the image or design onto the surface of object. Excess ink remains above the screen.

Step 5:A separate screen of each color repeats the process until a design or image is completed. Once finished, the object is heated on aoven to make the ink cured and adhere to the object’s surface


Typical applications for screen printing include balloon, clothing design, artwork,sign, sticker, fabric, label, and numerous and labeling and visual graphic for consumer product. Generally, screen printing is most widely used in textile industry for fabric applied in linen, upholstery, bedcover, and other household items.Organizations and companies around the world appply screen printing for brand awareness, promotional products, and marketing. Screen printing is also used for printed semiconductor,electronic, control panel and machinery to offer warning, information,  or direction for using  mechanical or electrical instruments.


01.Cost-effective for Large Quantity

Because screen printing is a method requiring the fabrication of screen printing screen for all colors utilized in an artwork, it is better reserved for orders of large volume. The more garments in order, the lower the price of tempography is.


For the thickness and composition of ink utilized in screen printing, product designed by the method is able to withstand much more stress than others without losing the print quality.

03.Various Inks

Screen printing is available for any desired ink deposit and any ink system. Allowing for greater ink thickness than others, screen printing can accommodate various fabrics and designs when finishing the pieces.

04.Flexible Print Material

Convenient to print on special garment, screen printing is the most versatile printing method. Silk screen printing can be done on nearly all kinds of flat surfaces including fabric, plastic, wood, metal, etc. Flatbed screen printing can develop all kinds of design measurements for all screen sizes used in the printing technology.

05.Simple Design

Screen printing is ideal for printing a simple text or design.Best for artwork with solid color and not photography based, it’s suitable to print graphic, logo and company name. Screen printing can realize gradient and a crisp and sharp design.


01.More Cost for multiple colors

For the technique used, screen printing can only apply one color at a time. Thus there is limited number for colors on T-shirt, and every layer needs more time. Ultimately, silk screen printing costs mor .

02.Not suitable for small order

Screen printing requires more prep than others before production. So it isn’t suitable for on-demand printing that creates garments as soon as they are ordered. Screen printer isn’t economical with merely a few items to print. Setting up time is complex and time-wasting. Some screen printers even limit the quantity for printing.

03.Relatively Complex 

Screen printing is relatively complex depending on the project and design for more steps it needs than other technologies. Screen printer spends more time with slower turnaround time than others. Screen printing involves maging the design onto a fine-mesh screen then transferred with ink onto the printing material. Every shape or color within your design requires a new screen. Stocking screen printing supplies is important with the method.

04.Waste Water

Although screen printing has taken efforts to create eco-friendly screen printing screen and ink, it is still not environmentally-friendly for wasting lots of water. Water is used for cleaning the screen and mixing up ink,  and the amount of water is scary when manufacturers produce hundreds of garments daily.

05.Limited Color

Screen printer can’t realizer a photography-based design or a multi-color design. Screen printer can mix spot colour with accuracy, but it is difficult to achieve specific shade or gradient with it.


When selecting between screen printing and pad printing, it’s not a case to choose a better method but a more suitable method for your printing project. Before deciding the printing method, it’s crucial to consider the result you want to realize and study your product and.

If your item features intricate detailing and is small ( label and bar code), then pad printing is the best choice for you. Also, pad printing is excellent in printing on unusual shapes, like 3-D or uneven surfaces. Pad printing is economical, quick, and ideal for small and high-quality prints. While, if your product is quite large requiring a big print ( on a T-shirt), screen printing will be more suitable. But be aware that enamel, ink, and paint will be transferred during screen printing, it’s best to contact the expert when using.

Despite key differences exist between pad printing and screen printing, they both boast great advantages and are two most popular printing methods today.

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