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The Secrets of Successful Pad Printing

(February 2003) posted on Wed Mar 12, 2003

This discussion expains how you can make the most of your machine by considering all aspects of production, from climate and press location to substrate readiness and ink preparation.

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By Carol Swift, Peter Kiddell

Ideally, a pad press should be operated in an air-conditioned environment at a temperature of 65-72°F (18-22°C) with a relative humidity of 55%. If you don't have the luxury of air conditioning, create as stable an environment as possible, away from windows and doors to the outside and the blast of forced-air heaters. Don't be tempted to put equipment on upper floors of multistory structures, where heat can rise dramatically during the day. Instead, opt for colder areas of the operation.


If the area where you locate the machine is colder than the optimum temperature range listed previously, you can use a hair dryer to alter the ambient conditions at the print station. When the area warms up during the day, you just switch off the hair dryer. It sounds pretty crude, but it works. Should the results still fall below your quality needs and reject tolerances, then you either have to relocate the machine or invest in more sophisticated equipment to control the environment (i.e., an air-conditioning system). The bottom line is that a badly sited machine can produce rejects faster than you can make components.


Positioning the machine


The area where you will locate the machine must be clean and well lit. The press must be easy to access, and parts must be able to move freely to and from the machine(Figure 2). The press should have sufficient area around it to allow for components to air dry if you're not using some form of forced-drying system. If a forced-drying system is used, make sure it is easily accessible from the press.

The ergonomics that result from the press's position often have a great impact on its performance. To achieve optimum performance on manually loaded machines, parts should be presented so that all the operator has to do is pick up a part with minimum turning or bending, load it onto the machine, and unload it before it moves on to inspection or drying. The part-delivery system might involve incoming and outgoing conveyors positioned adjacent to the press or simply boxes from which parts are drawn and trays onto which they are placed after printing.


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