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Pad printing inks

Pad Printer Inks

Types of pad printing ink and
what to consider when selecting one

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Pad Printing Inks

Single- and Two-component Pad Printer Inks

Pad printer inks vary by the number of its components. Single- and two-component pad printing inks have different applications:

• Single component pad printer ink does not require any hardener or catalysts and will adhere to solvent sensitive substrates. There is no pot life to this ink and it can be run for many hours without difficulty or requiring clean-up.

• Two component pad printer ink requires the addition of a hardener and is typically used on difficult substrates or where extreme durability is required, the ink has a pot life of about 8 hours.

Selecting a Pad Printer Ink

For solvent sensitive plastics you can use a single component pad printer ink and for hard plastics or metals you will generally need a two component pad printer ink. To determine if a material is solvent sensitive dab a small amount of thinner on the surface and rub it lightly. If the surface becomes dull or tacky, then the use of hardener is not necessary: the thinner alone will activate the surface and allow the pigment in the ink to bond with the part.

You also need to understand what type of quality the end user expects. Industry standard for most application is the infamous scratch test - if the pad printer ink is not removed by your fingernail it is considered to exhibit acceptable adhesion. Other applications have much more tougher requirements like the automotive industry's rigorous testing for UV light, salt, temperature and chemical resistance. On the other end of the spectrum is point of purchase decoration that is not expected to last past the first use.

The flexibility of the pad printer ink is another important factor. Will the ink stand up to repeated stretching such as flexing, or squeezing? Crocs, stress balls, soft touch mugs and garments are typical products that need flexible ink.

Government regulations on pad printer inks are changing constantly and compliance to ink regulation is critical to most businesses and is strictly enforced. The primary areas of concerns are that your pad printer inks are heavy metal free and do not contain restricted phthalates. Insist that your pad printer inks are CPSIA 2008 (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008) compliant.

Inks for both Pad Printing and Screen Printing

Most inks are dedicated for either screen printing or pad printing but the best quality inks can be used for both due to their small uniform particle size and solubility for different speed thinners. All you need to do is change the speed of thinner - slower for screen printing and faster for pad printing.
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