Pad Printing: What Is It And How Does it Work?

ITW Trans Tech offers pad printing equipment, including pad printing technology

There are several different techniques available for companies looking to apply branding, indication, safety, or instruction information onto their products. Pad printing is an attractive option for product decoration due to its repeatable, durable, and precise results.

What Is Pad Printing?

Pad Printing is a product decorating process that transfers 2-dimensional images onto nearly any 3-dimensional object. Pad Printing ensures decoration that is durable and highly repeatable for mass production. It is an ideal process for products across numerous industries.

How Does Pad Printing Work?

The pad printing process utilizes a silicone ink cup to transfer ink onto a printing plate. When the ink dries the resulting decoration is extremely durable.

Pad Printing Equipment

Pad Printing systems can provide highly durable product decoration at high speeds with great precision. It is well-suited for decorating on challenging substrates and parts with complex geometries. Pad printers decorate round, conical, and oval-shaped products with ease.

Superior pad printing equipment will go a step further and come with built-in efficiencies that generate significant time and cost savings.

Decorative Printing. Pad Printing: What Is It And How Does it Work?

Pad printing systems are available in manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic formats. Systems can be electromechanical or pneumatic as well as single or multi-color. The resulting decoration can be extremely small to quite large.

Today’s pad printers are the product of decades of innovation. Since 1979, Trans Tech has remained at the forefront of pad printing technology by leveraging our collective expertise to develop and distribute machines that cater to modern production needs. Trans Tech technologies generate up to 25% cost savings and up to 86% time savings while providing up to 30% less downtime and 50% greater durability.

Additionally, supporting or ancillary equipment is available to streamline the printing process.


Printing operations are generally high volume, attempting to maximize throughput to ensure that production goals are met. This requires a printer like the SealCup Express or the Pneumatic Express. These machines, which run on electromechanical and pneumatic drives respectively, are designed to remain functional and reliable throughout their long lifespans. Iterative of German design, these printers boast 30% less downtime than their competitors.

Of course, not all prints are the same. Products that require more than one decoration and prints on multiple areas require a printer that can accomplish this. Machines like the Orion 130 offer this and more. By using multiple silicone pads, these printers can decorate different areas of the product and utilize up to 5 colors of ink during the process. Combined with an X/Y Pad Coupler, intricate and precise prints are possible no matter the configuration.

Pad printers are especially well-suited to emerging challenges. For example, Trans Tech’s Rotary Pad Printer can print medical syringes with extreme precision at speeds up to 9x faster than other high-speed printers.

Supporting Equipment

To best meet the needs of each unique application, a variety of ancillary products can be used.

Machines that treat the substrate before and after printing are highly popular. Flame, corona, and plasma treatment machines help make the substrate responsive to the ink and achieve a more durable print.

Likewise, different drying apparatuses exist to accelerate the speed that prints are finished and ready to be moved. Trans Tech offers different heat and UV dryers that can cut down on production time.

Also, safety is a high priority in any manufacturing or distribution operation. As such, Trans Tech also offers a variety of safety packages for our pad printing machines.


Pad printers can be used on their own, independent from other systems. However, these machines can also be incorporated into an automated line. There are multitudes of potential benefits to be gained from automating the process. For instance, automated pad printing lines produce a lower reject or “scrap” rate, lowering the losses incurred. They also reduce manpower requirements.

Each product decoration project is unique. Even when size shapes and substrates are similar, specific requirements related to artwork complexity, desired line speed and the production environment must be addressed. The team at Trans Tech has deep expertise in the entire product decorating process. From product design and artwork conception through product handling, we are here to serve as a trusted partner in product decoration.


Product decoration from pad printing.

Industries that frequently use pad printing for product decoration or indication include:

Medical Equipment

Medical equipment often requires extremely precise indication marking. Pad printing is well suited to meet even the strictest precision requirements. Trans Tech has a deep familiarity with medical-grade inks and cleanroom compatibility.

Automotive Industry

Motor vehicles are complex pieces of machinery that require extensive labeling and decoration before the finished product is assembled. Part shape and substrates used vary widely from one piece of a motor vehicle to the next. Pad printing is flexible enough to accommodate decoration requirements for vehicle interiors, exteriors, and underhood components.

Consumer Appliances

Large and small appliances alike require decoration. Brands use pad printing to apply indication markings as well as branding and instructional information. Decoration on appliances often needs to be able to tolerate extreme heat or extreme cold.

Sporting Goods

Brand recognition plays a major role in the sporting goods market. Displaying iconic names and decorations on equipment has long been a growing trend.

How To Get Started With Pad Printing

When exploring your pad printing options, make sure to find a partner who not only listens to your unique decorating challenge– but has the expertise to create a customized solution optimized for your specific needs.

Our team is composed of seasoned professionals that understand production needs from the ground up. The average experience of our lab technicians is over 30 years. We have seen it all and understand how to create the best solution for your unique application. Speak with a Trans Tech Pad Printing Expert today to learn more.