Pad Printing Plates

I am wondering if anyone here has any experience with pad printing. The reason I am asking is could you use the Glowforge to etch or engrave the printing plates for shorter runs? I don’t know a ton about pad printing, but this is what wiki has about the plates:

Image plate[edit]
Image plates are used to contain the desired artwork “image” etched in its surface. Their function is to hold ink in this etched cavity, allowing the pad to pick up this ink as a film in the shape of the artwork, which is then transferred to the substrate.

There are two main types of printing plate materials: photopolymer and steel. Photopolymer plates are the most popular, as they are easy to use. These are typically used in short to medium production runs. Steel plates come in two forms: thin steel for medium to long runs, and thick steel for very long runs. Both steel plate types are generally processed by the plate supplier as it involves the use of specialized equipment.

Seems like this would work for the GF and maybe a way to make some other cool items.




I’m also interested to know if this works. Pad printers are used to print neck labels in t-shirts, it would be nice to make many custom labels.

I can’t see why not. Just a matter of finding the best material to use.

Cool idea. We can’t etch metal, but… Maybe blasting away something like an anodizing layer could be used to make an ink-retaining plate. Or, using an electrical etching process like making a circuit board?

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Wouldn’t be able to the long-run metal plates directly, but could do short-run polymer plates.
(for long-runs, maybe a paint/laser/etching-creme process on metal?)

if we can pull off replacing photopolymers for screen-printing, I think we can replace them for pad-printing too. - granted, I’ve never done any pad-printing, I’ve only watched it happen… and not very closely.

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This was discussed earlier in the year.

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Yeah, but it sputtered out. Unless @tim ever received a sample pad from that manufacturer and forget to update us.

somebody has done this

Look for Rubber STAMP I saved the link someplace for the orange material.

I caught the stamp post before, but the pad printer stamps down on to the ink plate and then transfers that over to the material it deposits it on to. This allows the pad to form to the complex surface. So don’t know how the direct stamp would work.

Just wanted to get the concept going and chat, when I searched I didn’t find the previous topic.

I worked with a pad printer years ago. The metal plates for pad printing are identical to consumer nail “art stamping” with nail polish. (see example )

If you’ve ever seen them, they’re often at the mall at one of those carts or at the dollar store, the “engrave” is quite shallow as you need only a tiny layer of ink/polish but it is important that the unengraved surface be very flat for scraping the ink/polish cleanly. As laser etching on metal is outside of GF’s ability perhaps glass or tile will do the trick?

You’ll need a few other tools to complete the process - namely a scraper, rubber pad and some means to secure the plate.


wondering how hard multiple colors would be from this sort of option. Like the ease of the nail option.

As long as you have a means to register the plate and pad reliably it’s pretty easy - but at that point you should probably just get a used multicolor pad printer as that’s what it does already and has the ink applier/scraper built in. You would waste quite a bit of ink if you try to do it in one pass tho since the scraped ink will mix.

oh. I think I know what you mean. like the printing process for golf balls? I saw demoed some place ages ago.

the “pad” was a rubber bulb basically, they pressed it to a metal inked image of the logo, then swung it around and popped it on a golf ball.

That is correct!

Ah HA!!!

I only saw that demoed about 30 some odd years ago. took a while to pull that tape out of the archive. :slight_smile: analog brain dontcha know. :slight_smile:


Here are some laser etched pad printers.
I think the Glowforge could do it, but without a registration feature it might be aggrevating.

In reading this book It would not be hard to find something that would react to inks or colors that we could produce similar results. A carving out of hard rubber might make a similar result.

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