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Blog Home Tagless Printing The Importance of Choosing the Right Pad Printing Pads
Tagless PrintingAugust 27, 2018

The Importance of Choosing the Right Pad Printing Pads

Tagless Printing
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pad printing pads

What to look for in choosing the right pad printing pads

Pad printing is a printing method that is being sought out more and more by companies that look to print in high volumes and mass quantities. There are numerous factors to consider when pad printing and one of the biggest and most important factors is choosing the correct pad printing pads for your next project. When pad printing on apparel or promotional items, it is paramount to consider the important tips and considerations listed below. By choosing the correct pad for your application, this will allow you to develop a high-quality print on your product using a pad printer.

Product Type

In order to select the correct pad for a specific application, one must first look at the product shape and surface. If you know what the product is, it is easier to know which pad to choose. From pens, yo-yos, key chains, luggage tags, clothing, and drinkware, there are endless possibilities for products. Within these product categories, certain materials will require different pads.

This is due to the items surface, shape, size, etc. which can be prone to certain areas such as hard or soft pads (depends on the durometer, size), bigger or smaller pad points or draft to name a few. Let us use an example of an item such as a pen. A pen is a common product that pad printers use to print on. There are many shapes and sizes of pens so finding the correct pad depending on the shape, durometer, size, etc. is a major factor for the pad. The same can be said for not only promotional items but apparel items as well.


Regarding the shape of an item that is used, you would typically choose the shape of the pad based on the shape of the item. If the item is say squared, then you will be choosing a squared shape pad. If the item is round, then you would be choosing a round shaped pad. The possibilities for pad shapes and sizes are plentiful. From curved, to pointy, flat, beveled, angled, or hollow to name a few, there are many options the product can use for the print.


The durometer is another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration. This category measures the hardness of the pad on a numerical scale. Standard printing pads range in durometer from soft 40 durometer pads (for specialty application) to harder 80 durometer pads (for precision printing). The lower the number on the scale, the softer the pad is. Vice versa for higher numbers having harder pads. For example, pads that are used for tagless products such as shirts, undergarments, pants, etc. will have an average durometer of 60. This means the pad is not too hard or soft. However, for hard goods such as rough textured finishes, coatings or plastic surfaces, the pad will have a high durometer of around 80.

Hardness and Softness

The hardness and softness of the pad play an important role. For example, softer materials such as rubber, stress balls, or stretchy material all need pads that are softer. The reason being is that they are collapsible so they require a specific soft pad because they can distort if the incorrect pad is chosen.


The surface is important when choosing the correct pad as it will tell you the hardness needed. For a smooth surface, it is recommended to choose pads that are dry and not tacky. If the item is flat or smooth, you will need to choose a hard shaped pad. These types of pads are good for glass, metal, stainless steel, and hard plastics. The key is to keep the pad from retaining too much ink as the static can build on the print pads surface. Static refers to the ink producing unnecessary strings and lowers the print quality. These strings can also, fall over the print and cause problems to the print result.


When it comes to the texture of the pad, there can be a misconception that if the part is textured with say lines or dimples, it will need a soft pad. This is not the case, however. For example, say the item is printed on is a golf ball. The misconception is that people can tend to think they will need a soft pad to get the ink into the dimples of the ball.

However, they will actually need a hard, pointy pad. Why? It is due to the pointy part of the pad that will allow you to get into the dimples and draft of the pad. A hard pad will also help keep a clear, undistorted print. If a softer pad is chosen, the ink will not get into the dimples. A soft pad will bridge over the dimples, trap in air and cause a void. The printed image will distort and frown or smile on the product.


Drinkware is another product type that you can print on where texture plays a factor. Take a tumbler cup for example. This item has a powder coating that has a gritty, rough feel to it. Like the golf ball, you will need a harder pad to avoid getting pinholes in the print. Or there are pads that are hollow for items such as a ceramic mug which would wrap nicely around the curved surface of the product.

Now that you have read some of the important aspects when factoring in which pad you should choose for your project, we would like to share how Inkcups carefully reviews which pad to choose for items. Inkcups pad printing experts are adept at knowing the product type, the textures, surface type, hardness and softness, and more. We are pleased to offer an extensive selection of silicone pads for our customers. Look below at the various pad options Inkcups offers to gain a sense of which pad could work for you.

CRYSTALFLEX: CrystalFlex has the highest density molecular structure of all pad materials Inkcups offers. This ensures the pad does not absorb solvents that end up drying the pad. CrystalFlex features a time release conditioning agent that keeps the pad durometer consistent for the life of the pad. The semitransparent material permits the operator to directly see and remove ink leftovers (if any) from the pad, which allow for clean crisp prints. The benefit of this pad is it is dry and does not stick to the material. CrystalFlex is perfect for texture and static items that were mentioned above such as golf balls, automotive components, and switches.

EVERFLEX®- This pad is suitable for tagless items such as apparel and garments as well as hard goods. The durable silicone for this pad has excellent ink transfer characteristics and is exceptionally resistant to abrasion and rips. It has no break-in time, provides exceptional fine line printing detail and has excellent resistance to “image burn-in” and “memory.” This high-tensile strength silicone has exceptional life and works with all ink types.

PROMOFLEX- PromoFlex is a very good pad for hard goods or promotional products. This pad was established for the challenging needs of promotional products. PromoFlex has an exceptionally high resistance to solvent and abrasion. As a result, PromoFlex prevents premature pad failure related to image burns and cuts. The surface promotes complete ink transfer from the pad, resulting in highly opaque and crisp printed images on all surfaces.

One other misconception that we do not want to confuse you with is the color of the pad. The color of the pad does not matter as they can be created in any color. There is the option of neon pink pads (CrystalFlex) or orange pads (PromoFlex) and they will not affect the color of the print being laid down. The three types of silicone pads mentioned above are just a sample of the numerous pads offered at Inkcups. There are more options one can choose from in regards to choosing the right pad for their project. You can click here to see Inkcups’ extensive selection of pads.

Knowing which pad to use is paramount to success and we hope this article helps you in your pad selection. If you have questions regarding pad printing or what pad you think is best for your next project, contact Inkcups!

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