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Screen Printing VS. Pad Printing: Which One Is Right For Me?

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

In the screen printing vs. pad printing debate, it’s less about deciding which method is best, and more about determining which is best for your particular application. If you’re the one responsible for making that determination, you know it can be a tough choice. Hopefully the following tips and information can help you along the way.




Basics

Screen Printing: Screen printing (also known as screening or silk screening) has been around in some form for over a thousand years. The screen printing process begins with an ink-blocking stencil applied to a woven mesh screen. Ink is then transferred through the openings in the screen, pressed through to the underlying material with a squeegee or roller. Fun fact: Andy Warhol used screen printing to make his famous prints of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.


Pad Printing: Pad printing was invented in the 1960s — so, compared to screen printing, it is relatively new technology. The pad printing process involves image plates, printing pads, and ink. A pad printing machine presses a rubber or silicone printing pad into a customized ink plate and then presses the inked pad onto the object. Picture the good old days, when the librarian rubber-stamped the due date into your library book, or imagine the hobbyists who stamp their own greeting cards. Now, picture that on a much larger, sophisticated (and automated) scale. It’s kind of like that.


Advantages

Screen Printing:

  • Generally less expensive than pad printing

  • Excellent ink opacity

  • Suitable for small and large printing areas

  • Reliable on flat and round surfaces

Pad Printing:

  • Superior resolution and fine detail

  • Can be used on nearly any material