Pad printing is a process where a 2-D object is transferred into a 3-D object. It is done by using an indirect offset printing process that involves an image being transferred from the printing plate via silicone pad over a surface that is to be printed.
Pad printing is used on a lot of industries that includes medical, automotive, promotional, apparel, electronics, appliances, sport equipment and toys. Pads are three dimensional objects typically molded of silicone rubber. They function as a transfer vehicle that picks up ink from the printing plate, and then transferring to the thing to be printed upon.
Examples of pad printing are the printing of labels on the keys on a keyboard or the logo of a toy manufacturer on a Frisbee. The unique properties of a silicone pad allow it to pick the image up in a variety of surfaces such as a flat, cylindrical, spherical, compound angle, textures, concave surfaces or a convex surface.
In presses that uses pad printing with Computer Numeric Control (CNC), the substrate or a material that can be printed on, such as paper, film, plastic, fabric, cellophane, or steel, is stationary and the silicone pads are programmed to print one image at a time.
With a press that uses Computer Numeric Control, the substrate is stationary and the pads are all programmed to one image at a time to achieve a multicolor print.