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Pad Printing Troubleshooting Guide

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Pad Printing
definitions

Are you having any of the following problems? Click to find out more...


The image does not fully release from pad...
Ink remaining on non-imaged areas of plate and printing on part as a shadow or haze...
Print is smeared or blurred...
Image is distorted on a flat part, size of image area is one square inch or less...
Image is distorted on cylinder, print area less than 90º arc...
Image is distorted on a compound curved substrate...
Spots / Blotches in printed image...
Pinholes in print...
Loss of registration of multicolored image...
Printed Image will not pass cross hatch tape test...
Fine detail and lines are not printed...
Not picking up full image on pad...
The print looks fuzzy or cobwebby at edges of design...
Threads and splashes...
Ink not opaque...
Ink is not printing on substrate uniformly...
The printed image is not glossy enough...
Color does not match original color after printing...

 

Image does not fully release from pad...
Causes Solutions
Pad is to old not enough silicone oil left in pad Replace pad or rejuvenate using silicone oil
Ink dried on pad Add retarder or slower thinner
Contamination on surface of substrate or part to be imaged Clean or wipe substrate with isopropyl alcohol or suitable cleaner
Ink is too thin Remix new ink with less solvent
Speed of printing sequence is too slow Increase speed of machine, caution watch quality of print and prevent pad wiggle
Pad pressure Increase pad pressure
Plate etched too deep ink stays on pad Remake shallower etched plate
Plate etched too shallow ink is drying Slow machine down below image with air on pad, mix new ink with less retarder or faster thinner
Too much air circulation around press Block any air currents
Ink left on pad during set up Do not allow ink to dry on pad, remove only with adhesive tape
Timing of machine too fast Slow down speed caution when speeding up machine prevent pad wiggle
Humidity too high in print area Reduce humidity to 50%
Print area is too hot Temperature should be 68ºF or 20ºC
Pad has been wiped with solvent Change to new pad allow solvent to evaporate from previous pad, then wipe down with silicone.

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Ink remaining on non-imaged areas of plate and printing on part as a shadow or haze...
Causes Solutions
Ink viscosity too high (too thick) Add thinner to proper consistency
Cup is not doctoring properly Bleed trapped air in cup
Rotate cup 90º
Check ring
Defect in surface of plate Plastic plate? check for foreign material between plate and mounting plate
Steel plate resurfaced improperly - plate is warped

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Print is smeared or blurred...
Causes Solutions
Plate is etched too deep Make new shallower depth plate

Part is moving in fixture

Secure part better during printing
Point of pad is in print image Move pad point to a non print portion of plate
Too much pad pressure Decrease pressure - use as little pressure as possible to make good print
Pad Wiggles Slow machine motion down to allow pad to stabilize
Pad is too soft Use harder pad
Part fixture is moving Remake or stabilize fixture
Incorrect pad or durometer Select correct pad for substrate
Ink is too thin Remix ink to a higher viscosity
Open etch plate being used Use screen image plate

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Image is distorted on a flat part, size of image is one square inch or less...
Causes Solutions
Pad is too small Use larger pad
Pad is not aligned with image on the plate Align image to center of pad from the plate
Too much pad pressure Decrease pad pressure, use the least amount pressure to pick up image from plate and to print
  Choose another pad shape
  Adjust tooling or support better

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Image is distorted on cylinder, print area less than 90º arc...
Causes Solutions
Pad is too small Use larger pad, a pad can only be depressed about 1/3 before distortion will occur
Artwork May require distortion to print
Cylinder bends during printing Inflate with a nose cone or stiffen to prevent collapsing during printing
Image area is not horizontal Adjust holding fixture so cylinder print area is horizontal and parallel to etch on the plate
Wrong shape or durometer for pad Use a softer, larger or different shape pad so it can wrap part to be printed
Pad not supported during print stroke (skidding) Give pad full support on both sides of the cylinder

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Image is distorted on a compound curved substrate...
Causes Solutions
Pad is to small Use larger pad
Artwork is not distorted properly Distort artwork based on pad shape and hardness
Wrong pad shape and durometer Test different shape and hardness to see if image can be transferred without using art distortion
Placement of image on pad is incorrect Align pad with center of image on the plate

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Spots / Blotches in printed image...
Causes Solutions
Ink is too thick

Thin, to correct viscosity

Ink is too old Change to a new batch

Pad beyond life

Replace pad
Too much pad pressure Decrease pad pressure, the least amount of pressure to pick up image and to transfer to substrate
Substrate contamination on surface Clean surface of part
Plate too deep Make shallower plate

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Pinholes in print...
Causes Solutions
Ink not mixed with additives well Mix ink thoroughly
Ink viscosity is too high Add thinner to correct viscosity
Ink is drying on pad Adjust ink by adding retarder or more thinner
Pad is too flat, trapping air bubbles in the ink layer

Use higher angle pad
Slow down pad, down stroke to allow bubbles to escape

Texture on part is too high Use harder durometer pad with a higher angle
Pin holes in film positive before making plate Touch up positive and remake plate

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Loss of registration of multicolored image...
Causes Solutions
Pad is loose on mounting Tighten pad mounting
Not the same pad style or shape or durometer between print stations Use identical pads so all distortions will be equal, do not mix old and new pads
Apex of pad are in different locations Align all pads to center of design, equal distortion is critical
Fixtures are not registered between stations Realign fixtures to each other
Film positives do not line up to each other Redo film positives
Parts are moving between print stations Secure part in fixture

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Printed image will not pass cross hatch tape test...
Causes Solutions
Ink is not cured All inks have different drying requirements, check manufacturer technical sheets for full cure times
Wrong type of ink Use correct ink system fro substrate being printed
Contaminated surface of parts Clean parts with alcohol test for surface contamination, check part with a dyne solution, record level, wipe part with alcohol, retest with dyne solution - If readings are different parts have surface contamination
Polyethylene and polypropylene surface of material have not been pre-treated Surface of material needs to be treated to a dyne level of 38 to 41 dynes

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Fine detail and lines are not printing...
Causes Solutions
Pad is too soft Use harder durometer pad
Plate (cliche) is too old, worn out Replace with new plate
Plate is too deep Replace with shallower plate
ink is not thinned correctly Thin ink to allow it to flow into plate image
Ink is drying into plate Speed up print cycle, add retarder to slow down drying speed of ink
Movement of air on plate (cliche) Prevent air flow
Pad is too flat Use high angle pad

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Not picking up full image on pad...
Causes Solutions
Ink dried in plate (cliche) Slow down ink evaporation be adding retarder or a slower thinner speed up cycle of machine on print stroke
Not enough pad pressure to pick up image from etched plate Increase pressure
Pad too small Use pad large enough to pick up entire image
Pad is new, too much release agent Wipe pad with solvent to condition pad surface
Pad is contaminated on surface Clean pad surface with masking tape
Pad is too flat in shape Use higher angle pad
Pad is damaged in print area Change to a new pad
Ink is too high in viscosity, too thick Thin to correct thickness by adding thinner
Image falls on tip of pad Move image off tip (be careful of distortion of print) or use different shaped pad

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The print looks fuzzy or cobwebby at edges of design...
Causes Solutions
Ink is too thick Thin ink by adding solvent (thinner)
Build of ink on pad

Use faster thinner, slow down print stroke of machine, blow air on pad or run ink thicker

Speed up machine use, use slower thinner or retarder, run ink thinner

Static Increase humidity, should be 50% and 70º-72ºF, use a deionized unit ionized air blowing over substrate.

Antistatic additives added to ink

Ask operators not to wear clothing containing synthetic materials
Pad too flat in shape Higher angle pad
Plate is too deep in etch Make shallower etch in plate
Pad is too old Replace with new pad
Machine is cycling too fast Slow pad up strokes

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Threads and splashes...
Causes Solutions
Pad is hard Use softer pad
Angle of pad too steep Use flatter pad
Plate etch is too deep Make shallower etch in plate

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Ink not opaque...
Causes Solutions
Ink is too thin Change ink or add new ink
Plate etch is too shallow Make new deeper etched plate
Pad is too soft Use harder pad
Using screen printing ink Use a pad printing ink
Pad is too old and dried out Use new pad, be sure to condition pad surface with solvent to remove oils
Ink is drying into plate etch Add retarder to ink
Pad is too flat Use higher angle pad
Texture on substrate is too high or too much Use a harder pad
Substrate is too dark for color Print white under color or double hit

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Ink is not printing on substrate uniformly...
Causes Solutions
Depth of etch on plate is uneven Remake plate to correct depth
Ink is not thinned correctly Thin to proper consistency
Ink is not fully releasing from pad Use new pad
Pad is too old, not enough silicone left in pad to give good transfer of image Use new pad or coat pad with silicone oil to rejuvenate
The up and down stroke of machine is too fast of a speed Slow down speed of machine
Pad is too soft Use harder pad
Ink dried in etch of plate Wash with solvent to remove dried ink
Not enough pressure on down stroke to plate or to substrate Increase pressure on down stroke
Dirt under plastic plate causing a bump Remove plate and clean back of plate and remount to base
Substrate is too heavy textured Use a hard pad, sharp angle
Part or substrate is contaminated (dirty) Clean parts
Spots in plates Check film or screen, remake plate
Part not properly supported in tooling fixture Support part properly

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The printed image is not glossy enough...
Causes Solutions
Gloss ink is not used Make sure ink is made to be glossy
Thinning solvent is too aggressive for substrate Change to a less aggressive solvent or use a less aggressive ink
Not transferring enough ink to substrate, etch too shallow Make new plate with deeper etched image / double hit part
Image with a screened plate Try using a plate without a screened image
Not enough hardener added to a 2-part ink Correct allowable amount, will improve gloss of ink

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Color does not match original color after printing...
Causes Solutions
Ink is over-thinned Adjust viscosity to correct thickness
Plate etch is too shallow Make a new plate with a deeper etch
Parts are being cured at too high of a temperature (burning ink) Cure at lower temperature for a longer period of time
Color match done with open etch then printed with a screened plate Change plate to open image or reformulate ink to screened plate
Substrate color showing through the ink layer Hit twice or lay down a white under base
Not all ink is releasing from pad Adjust thinner or retarder so all ink is removed from pad

 

 

 

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