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Archive for the ‘Pad Printing Tips’ Category

How the SI Series Works For All Your Silicone Needs

June 15th, 2018 | Author: Garrett Upson


Silicone spatula and swim cap!

We all know of products that are made out of silicone material. From medical and promotional products, to rubber parts and buttons, there are many different silicone applications one can print on. But what about the type of ink to use when printing on these materials? Virtually all inks in the printing industry and certainly at Inkcups, can print on a wide range of applications but yet, there are very few inks in the industry that are available for silicone decoration. Prints on wristbands for example, go through a myriad of wear and tear on a person’s wrist. As they are used for an extended period of time, the image is consistently stretched when taken off or put on. So what is the solution? The answer is Inkcups’ SI Series ink. Here at Inkcups, we possess over eight assorted types of inks and plenty of colors. With our Sapphire series, our inks can print on several products ranging from promotional products, metals, plastics, etc.

As mentioned, Inkcups possesses a specialty ink produced in-house, labeled the SI Series. What separates the SI series from all of other inks we offer? This ink Series is our only ink exclusively aimed at printing on silicone applications. The SI Series ink can be utilized by either screen or pad printing processes and the finishing product produces an opaque, supple, smooth and scratch resistant appearance. SI also, comes in 18 stock colors and we also offer a twelve color mixing system with a calculator for color matching. This method allows customers to be able to create Pantone colors in-house. This specialty ink is a platinum based, two-component ink that is comprised of ink and catalyst (hardener). The pot life of the SI Series is much more user friendly than other solvent based inks. The great benefit of the pot life of SI ink is that the customer has 24 hours or more to use that ink which is significantly higher than the 6-8 hour life for other solvent based inks.

SI Series cannot be used to print on any other applications except silicone making it the perfect ink for any looking to print on silicone products. Print on items made of silicone rubber including:

  • Oven mitts
  • Wristbands
  • Swim caps
  • Buttons
  • Touch pads
  • Remote controls
  • Phone cases
  • Credit card wallets (which people attach to the back of their cellphones)
  • Spatulas, and more!

Silicone Credit Card Wallets (Back of phone)

For those of you wondering, how do we achieve the appealing finish to each of our silicone products using the SI Series? The process is simple. We mix the ink, print and then cure the ink and you can too! Once the SI Series is fully cured, you will notice that the ink will have a very high resistance to abrasion and be very flexible so whether you bend or stretch the product, the print will not break.

Unlike our other solvent based ink product lines, the SI Series remains wet until it is dried and cured in an oven. Silicone ink is normally heated for six minutes at 124 degrees C (255 degrees F). However, if you are printing in-house, certain products can vary with curing time. For example, a wrist band takes less time to cure than say a swim cap based on the size of the products so it depends on the product you are printing on. It should also, be noted that the SI Series ink is a harmless product with little to no odor. It passes compliance tests such as CPSIA with flying colors, so the advantages are paramount with the SI Series ink!

When to Change the Pad on a Pad Printer

September 13th, 2016 | Author: Jessica Makrinos
Pad printing pads

Inkcups Printing Pads



Wear and tear is common when using a product non-stop. Although pad printers are built to last, there are some components that must be changed regularly to ensure you are getting a solid print. One of the most important components is the pad.




Pad Printing: The Inkcups Way [Infographic]

July 26th, 2016 | Author: Jessica Makrinos

Understanding how your pad printer works is vital in using the machine to the best of its abilities. Below, find out how our cups gracefully glide across the plates and fill up the etch with the perfect amount of ink. The best part about our turnkey process is that we provide you with all the components to start printing right away.

Download the infographic



Website UPDATED! New Exposure Times for Pad Printing Plates

August 14th, 2013 | Author: Stephen

pad printing plates

Click here to download the PDF

Inkcups Now is happy to announce that we have updated our polymer plate-making exposure times for garment tag printing on our website! The new update features a colorful new chart of exposure times for all of our alcohol wash and water wash pad printing plates. After years of testing, the techs at ICN have perfected a formula for successfully making photopolymer plates.

Click here to visit our web page!

This how-to guide will explain each step in the plate-making process. Just follow the instructions for a successful plate-making operation. Exposures time for pad printing plates will vary depending on the exposure unit you are currently using, the times on our website are based on the Autolight-1528 or BPL-1220 exposure units.

The web version of the exposure times are also available in a downloadable PDF document. Print it out and keep it with your exposure unit for reference or use it as a training manual for someone new to the plate-making process.

Leave a comment below with any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have about this about exposing pad printing plates.

Can I Etch Laser Plates with my CO2 Laser?

September 12th, 2011 | Author: Inkcups Now

Laser Engravable Pad Printing Plate
“Can I Etch Laser Plates with my CO2 Laser?” – This is a very common question we get from pad printing companies. Indeed, if a company already has a robust laser engraver, it may be able to enjoy the benefits of fully digitized pad printing plate-making – simply by purchasing the laser plate material and getting some instruction.

The short answer is as follows: you are likely to get the best results with laser plates if the wattage of your CO2 laser engraver is between 10Watt and 20Watt, and no more than 30Watt.

The longer answer is this:

  1. If your laser has more than 30Watt, you may still get excellent results with the Acculaze plate material, which is designed to handle fine-line graphics only (does not work for bold fonts or open etch areas). To etch Acculaze with a 30+Watt laser engraver, use the lowest power setting and make 2 passes.
  2. For the Imperial and Laser Orange plate material (both of which can handle any type of graphics) you do need the laser wattage to be no more than 30Watts; 10Watt – 20Watt is usually best. With a more powerful laser, the beam diameter (spot size) of the laser is too large to achieve fine etch and sharp prints.
  3. The other major factor that comes into play is your CO2 laser’s software: it will determine how well you can manipulate your graphic files.
  4. Test your laser! We offer laser plate samples and etching guides.
  5. Consult with Inkcups Now specialist to determine if investing in one of our specialized laser engravers and plate-makers is the right solution for you.

Photopolymer Plate Making Exposure Times for Large or Small Logos

August 2nd, 2011 | Author: Stephen
Photopolymer Plates

Photopolymer Plates in Exposure Unit

While garment tag printing, most users prefer making their own plates. Typically the most inexpensive way to etch your own plates is by using photopolymer plates with an exposure unit. Etching an image into photopolymer plates requires more attention than laser etching the plates, exposure times will vary depending upon the image size, even if the same plate material is used for both large and small images.

Inkcups Now has done extensive testing with our water wash orange plate material, our most popular for garment tag printing. Larger images need more time to develop during the washout process to provide the depth necessary for garment tag printing.

B100 (small image)
150 (Large image)
Film Exposure
200 Line Screen Exposure
Bake Time @ 170°F
Post Cure

New to photopolymer plate-making? Click here to check out a complete photopolymer plate-making training video.

Plates used in this project:
Type: Photopolymer Plates
Brand: ICN
Model: Water Wash Orange
Standard applications: Promotional products, Garment Tag Printing
Photopolymer plate alternative: Laser Plate Making.

How to Load Photopolymer Plates and Ink Cups into Your Pad Printing Machine

July 20th, 2011 | Author: Stephen

Pad Printing Machine

The cup and plate in a pad printing machine (click to enlarge)

Inkcups Now takes pride in offering the best technical support in the industry. If you own a pad printing machine, weather you use it for printing on promotional products or garment tag printing, proper loading of the plates and cups into the machine is key to getting a great print. The following is a 5 step procedure that will ensure proper plate and cup installation.

1. Thoroughly clean the magnetic sub-plate and back of print plate.

2. Make sure the plate is laying flat on top of the sub-plate. While applying pressure to the center on the plate, finger tighten the hold-down knobs on one end, then repeat on the other end. DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN or you may distort the plate and cause doctoring problems

3. Putting the cup and plate together:

• Clean the ring edge before putting on plate (every time.)
• Always place the ink cup gently on the plate at the end opposite to the image area.
• OPEN THE VENT PLUG BY TURNING COUNTER-CLOCKWISE – let it sit for a minute, then re-tighten. This lets air out of the ink cup and enables the ring to set properly on the plate.

4. Putting the locking pin into the ink cup

• Slide the locking pin up and down several times and move the cup manually (rotate the cup, do not push) to make sure there is no interference between cup and pin.
• Make sure the pin is not seated directly on the bottom of the hole.

5. After the machine sits idle

• Before turning on the machine, manually break free the cup from its location on the plate. This is done in case the ring has settled into the plate material which would result in damaged plates when the machine cycle is initiated

Contact Inkcups Now for additional information!

Printer used in this project:
Type: Pad Printer
Brand: ICN
Model: B100, B150, 2200(PS, PSx)
Standard applications: Bottles, Garment Tag Labels, Cups, Mugs…
More info: ICN’s Pad Printer page

ICN-2200-PSx High Speed Garment Tag Printer

June 14th, 2011 | Author: Stephen
Here is a new video of the ICN-2200-PSx high speed pad printer with a heavy duty pad slide. In this video we show off this pad printers 2 color printing capability. As you can see, the pad slide simplifies positioning of your garment. The slide allows your part to remain stationary therefore assuring a flawless second color print.

The ICN-2200-PSx is the fastest 2 color garment tag printer on the market! The increased speed is attributed to an independent cup drive system and a shorter plate length. It can print up to 1800 impressions per hour for 2 colors and 2600 impressions per hour for 1 color. The speed can be completely controlled and adjusted to the speed of your liking. This machine saves time and money by increasing production speed and lowering operating costs.

Contact Inkcups Now for more information about the ICN-2200-PSx Pad Printer.

Printer used in this project:
Type: Semi-Automatic Pad Printer
Brand: ICN 2200-PSx
Model: 2 Color High Speed Pad Slide
Standard applications: garment tag printing, pens, stress balls, other metal and plastic parts…
Unconventional applications: cookies, contact lenses
More info: ICN 2200-PSx Pad Printer page

Printing Pad Problems? We have the Solutions!

June 8th, 2011 | Author: InkcupsNow
overcompressed printing pad (click to expand)

Over-compressed Printing Pads (Click to Expand)

Ever found yourself in middle of a production run only to discover that your printing pad suddenly split in two? Most people would think there is something wrong with the pad itself, hoping that a new pad will do the trick. When the same problem occurs over and over, its time to find out what’s really going on.

Looks familiar? This picture was sent in by a customer who had no idea why his pad printing pads kept splitting. It was not the ink, not the surface of the substrate he was printing on or poor handling of the pad – Eventually we found out that it was the settings of his machines that led to a serious case of over-compression of the pad.

Read more

Photopolymer Plate Making Techniques for Apparel Tag Printing

May 23rd, 2011 | Author: Stephen

Photopolymer plate making for apparel tag printing

Photopolymer plate making for apparel tag printing

Here at Inkcups Now we have many customers that make their own photopolymer plates for apparel tag printing. While there are many variations of exposure and baking times, we have tested many methods of photopolymer plate making with our water wash orange plates in order to determine the best method.

PLEASE NOTE: We are using our BPL1220 exposure unit. Exposure times may vary depending upon the power of your exposure unit.

Step 1 – 1 minute exposure with film positive (customer image)
Step 2 – 20 second exposure with 200 line screen
Step 3 – Washout with water for 1 minute
Step 4 – Blot dry with lint free towel
Step 5 – Bake plate in the oven at 170F for 10 minutes
Step 6 – Post cure in BPL 1220 for 20 minutes

This combination produced a deep plate that works well for apparel tag printing. The plate was hard, doctored well, and the cup rode smoothly across with no bowing. Water wash orange plates are the best photopolymer plates to use for apparel tag printing because the plate is harder than other photopolymer plates when fully cured. This reduces the risk of problems that may arise due to soft plates.

Contact Inkcups Now for additional information!

Plates used in this project:
Type: Water Wash Orange Photopolymer
Brand: Inkcups Now
More info: Photopolymer Plates page

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