View Full Version : This doesn't look new..or is there something I'm missing?

Rodne Gold
05-29-2013, 2:38 PM
Saw this on Gizmodo
Look's like a pad printer to me..what's so revolutionary about this?? Am I missing something?


Joe Hillmann
05-29-2013, 2:52 PM
The only thing that jumps out is the price, the only other small machine I have seen is imprintor which is about $1000 for the basic set up, this one is between $300 and $600

Edit: Also on there kickstarter page they have pictures of many items that would be one off's or low volume which is very impractical because a plate needs to be made of each design and because the clean up is very difficult. If you are interested in trying pad printing, I posted a file for cutting a pad printer a month or so ago along with photos of the finished printer. I didn't include any type of instructions, you have to figure that out on your own.

matthew knott
05-29-2013, 3:58 PM
Bog standard pad printer, cheap for a closed cup system, but it looks very basic. We got into trying this and purchased a decent pad printer, did one big job but hated the mess of ink and cleaning up with thinners, was terrible! As it happens i had to move it a few hours agos as it block the entrance to where i store my old vw van and i noticed it had rusted a bit. Shame really as someone could probably use it.

Richard Rumancik
05-29-2013, 4:39 PM
It's kind of a cute little machine. Yes, it is a pad printer all right. It might be fine for low volume use. The slide seems to be rather stiff when the young lady moves it in and out - seems that would get tiring quickly. I assume the "template" (cliché) maker uses UV light to expose the cliché material but they don't actually say. If one could make the clichés with a laser instead, that might be a nice alternative to those of us with laser engravers. Then you could just discard the cliché if you don't like the cleanup like Matthew. The pad would just need a quick wipe.

Matthew - it can't be that bad, can it? Not like screenprinting where you have a lot of area to clean up. But I admit the smell can be strong. I bought some pad print ink for another purpose and thinner to go with it and it was not that pleasant. I'm sure there are more low-VOC inks being developed.

One observation - if you had a rectangular part (or something other than a golf ball) you need a holder and ideally a bit of an x-y table to allow some fine tuning of the position of the image. Not sure how they deal with that. I suppose you could adjust the backstop of the slide with the cliché
to control one axis. Again, a laser would be handy for making holding fixtures.

Many of the desktop pad printers seem to be very overpriced for what you get; at least this one has a reasonable price point.

Joe Hillmann
05-29-2013, 4:58 PM
Even if you throw away the cliche it is still a pain to clean up, the ink cup is difficult to get clean. To clean the pad itself you let the ink dry on it then use packaging tape to clean it. From what I remember you also have to mix the ink with a thinner and dryer before you can use it. Also if you aren't fast enough the ink will dry on the cliche which you then have to stop and clean it with thinner then wait for the thinner to dry before you can continue.

The cliches can be made out of glass on the laser by engraving very very lightly.

You can easily make fistures to hold the parts by cutting them out of plywood on the laser and use double sided tape to hold it in place.

When I built mine I planed to use it for doing low quantity jobs that couldn't be done otherwise. Once I realized how much work was involved in set up and clean up I understood why the minimum order is usually in the hundreds or thousands.

Where pad printing would work great (for me at least) would be to mark my products with my logo. That way I would be able to leave the same cliche in all the time and the only clean up would be to use tape to clean the pad and wipe down the engraved area of the plate. For that to work you would need a closed ink cup which this one appears to have.

With all that said if you have a market for it it could be a valuable tool to add to your business.

Lee DeRaud
05-29-2013, 5:03 PM
Not knowing anything about pad printing, I have to ask: what keeps the image from 'ghosting' after the first item is printed? I'm having trouble believing that the pad hits the template in exactly the same place for subsequent items...

Jerome Stanek
05-29-2013, 5:17 PM
Looks a little like the golf ball printer we had 40 years ago

Richard Rumancik
05-29-2013, 5:25 PM
Lee, there is some complicated rheology going on with pad printing. The ink is attracted to the silicone pad and holds on while some of the solvent evaporates. Then it becomes less "sticky" relative to the silicone and will transfer 100% to the article being printed. There should be no residual ink on the pad so you should not get a double image. So even if the pad did not hit the cliche in exactly the same place each time, you should not see ghosting.

As far as each item being printed the same - that is the weak point of a low cost pad printer like this one. A real pad printer has precision slides like a milling machine and adjustments so you can get the image placement very precise. You could not expect that on a bench top machine. If you are doing golf balls, promotional products, or novelty items placement is often not critical. But for high-tech product applications you need to have repeatibility within .010" diameter or better.

Joe Hillmann
05-29-2013, 5:36 PM

You slide the plate that is engraved under the ink cup which fills up the engraved area, when you slide it out from under the ink cup the ink cup scrapes off ALL the ink except where the plate is engraved.

When the ink is exposed to the air the top film starts to dry within seconds. When you lower the silicone pad into the ink on the plate the top layer that was beginning to dry sticks to the silicone pad. Now the bottom side of the paint is exposed to air and starts to dry. When you lower the pad onto the part you are printing the ink sticks to the item much more then it wants to stick to the silicone so it completely releases from the pad. If it doesnt you will get ghosting like you said.

Because of the way the ink drys on the plate and the pad you can have problems if you are a couple seconds too fast or too slow. If you are too slow the ink will become too dry on your plate or pad and if you are too fast the ink will smear all over your plate, pad and part and then dry on your plate pad and part. The speed at which you can work depends on the surface area of the print, if the lines are thick or thin, the humidity, the temp and how you mix your ink. All of that means the first few parts you stamp will not be good but after that if you can get an uninterrupted rythem going you shouldn't have any problems.

Lee DeRaud
05-29-2013, 5:40 PM
Lee, there is some complicated rheology going on with pad printing. The ink is attracted to the silicone pad and holds on while some of the solvent evaporates. Then it becomes less "sticky" relative to the silicone and will transfer 100% to the article being printed. There should be no residual ink on the pad so you should not get a double image. So even if the pad did not hit the cliche in exactly the same place each time, you should not see ghosting.Ah. Reading between the lines, that implies the pads and inks aren't off-the-shelf at your average art supply place...too bad, as the mechanism looks fairly DIY-friendly otherwise.
(Well, at least DIY-friendly compared to, say, a CNC router.)

Joe Hillmann
05-29-2013, 5:54 PM
The pads can be made by squeezing some silicone into the dish shaped bottom of a pop can that has been polished and allowing it to set until it dries. The ink can be replaced with model car paint. And the ink cup can be built out of windshield wiper blades. I tried it and it.....works.....kind of....if you really have nothing better to do. I ended up spending about $100 and buying an ink cup, a pad and the ink from imprintor and it works so much better then the cobbled together system I had.

I think in the upper left hand corner I of the pad printing file I posted I have some parts labled"not sure what these are" or something like that and they are the parts for the ink cup that I made using wiper blades with the springs removed from an 84 f150. If you want to try it it works but it doesn't work well. Also using the wiper blades the lines have to be narrow with not large open ares of ink to be printed or the wipers will squeegee it away.

matthew knott
05-29-2013, 6:00 PM
cleaning up is not 'that bad' but after using lasers it just seems grim! the pads a silicon and easy to get hold of, the ink is special, plus it has to be mixed with a hardener, annoyingly you use almost no ink but have to buy it in one litre tins and its expensive. The main killer for us giving up was we do lots of engraving work for a very larger pad printing company and they would print parts for so little for us there was no point in doing it ourselves. The quality you can achieve is stunning, high quality swiss watches use of for their watch faces.