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Printing on Everything

The will to invent has always been a unique component of the human experience. Be it rounding a square rock to create a wheel or inventing a way to harness electricity, everything that has been invented has changed how human culture functions. As for pad printing, though it didn’t have an extreme effect on modern society, its subtle effects have been noted.

Pad printing

Print on Anything

Pad printing originated as a way to mass produce European watch faces by getting ink to hold its shape while it was transferred from an inkwell to a watch. This was done using gelatin in cheesecloth. The gelatin proved to be sticky enough to hold the ink in shape as it made its brief journey.
Though this was the normal way to perform such a printing feat for a few generations, advancements in the 1960s led to its move toward a more industrialized world.

Manufacturers began seeing the benefit of being able to print their logos on everything, no matter the shape or material being used. Because of this, many an inventor took to building machines that could automate the process. Nowadays, we have basically perfected the practice, now using silicon to transfer ink onto things like golf balls, footballs and food.

Printing Complexities

Even though it has been streamlined, the process is still anything but simple. There are many factors that have to be accounted for if a company is to print on uneven surfaces successfully. The first hurdle is to develop an inkwell with the correct depth and definition to it. Because it holds ink instead of having ink put on it, the image has to be shaded differently. In addition, the depth needs to be precise or there will be too much ink transferred to the object, resulting in either smears or a logo that can be pulled off too easily.

Beyond this, climate control needs to be determined. This can either be done through finding a correct type of ink for the current environment or correcting the environment to fit the ink being used. This comes into play when the ink leaves the ink well. As soon as it is exposed to air, the water particles within the ink will naturally begin heading into the atmosphere, drying the ink too early, or won’t leave at all, resulting in an ink that won’t dry. This is because of osmosis.

In addition, there are a few minor considerations that must be looked at. Pressure, for instance, is incredibly important for uneven surfaces with heavily grooved patterns, like on a golf ball. A light press will not distribute the ink correctly. Color is yet another consideration. While a full color logo is great on blank canvases, it can prove to be muddied by products that come with other colors, resulting in the need for the manufacturer to create another version.

About Sara T. Loving

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