Blog Post: Pad Printing vs. Screen Printing: What's the Difference?

Pad printing and screen printing are the methods commonly used for marking medical and electronic devices. Here are the key differences between the two:

Pad printing:

The name says it all. The process involves transferring ink from a silicone pad onto the item you want printed. Simply put, the pad printing machine holds both the pad and the product steady and then presses the pad into an ink plate, which has been tailored to the shape of your logo or artwork. The pad is then pressed onto the object and left to air dry.

One of the main advantages of using pad printing is that you can use it to print on three dimensional surfaces and products of all shapes and sizes. It doesn't matter if your items are curved or have an uneven surface, using this printing method will still achieve a quality print.

Pad printing is also suitable for delicate and mechanically sensitive products. Also, if you need to print fine print, you will find that the resolution of pad printing is far better than that of screen printing.

Screen printing:

The process of screen printing involves creating an ink-blocking stencil and applying it to a woven mesh. The stencil then forms an area through which ink or other substances can be transferred.

The technique actually dates back to early China (between 960 and 1279 AD). Today's screen printing equipment is highly sophisticated and largely automated. It is ideal for carrying out quick and effective printing on larger designs, as opposed to those with intricate detail.

Pad Printing vs. Screen Printing: Which is better?

When choosing between pad printing and screen printing, it's important to consider which process is best for your application. Before determining which printing method you are going to use, it's best to study your product and consider the results you are hoping to achieve. If your product is small and features intricate detailing, then pad printing is going to be the best option for you. Pad printing is also excellent for printing on unusual shapes. The same goes for if you are printing on a 3D or uneven surface.

If on the other hand the surface area of your item is quite large and you require a big print then screen printing will make much more sense.