This Technical Guide will help you choose Pad Printing Plate which will be best suitable for you.
it will also provides Tips and Tutorials on usage, maintenance of Pad Printing Plate.


The cliche is the carrier of the print motif.

Varying types of cliches are used depending on the desired print quality and quantity. The motif is recessed, etched into or washed out of the cliche. In order to assure smooth fitting and printing, the motif should be at a distance of at least 25 mm (1 inch) from the outer edge, and centered on the plate. In the case of long or fine lines, the motif must be at an angle of approx. 5° to 15° to the blade track in order for the doctor blade not to dip too low and scoop out too much ink. Numerous trials have shown that an etching depth of 25 μm is optimal for pad printing. Since the pad can only transfer a limited quantity of ink, a greater depth is pointless. At an etching depth of 25 μm, the pad only picks up an ink film of 12 μm. The rest remains in the depressions of the cliche. Because the ink film consists of approx. 40 % to 60 % thinner, which evaporates during the transfer and drying, the actual thickness of the ink film left on the substrate comes to around 5 μm – 8 μm, in some cases, as little as 2 μm. As an exception to the above statement, very fine fonts are etched at approx. 15 μm, and very large motifs, at approx. 30 μm. For very large surfaces, the dip of the doctor blade can be avoided by additionally copying a fine screen into the motif.

Steel clichés have a very long life expectancy, typically around 700,000 to 1,000,000 or more imprints can be expected. While nylon clichés have a much shorter life cycle, typically around 10,000 to 40,000 imprints depending upon various production factors. Obviously, steel plates are more expensive than nylon plates, but many customers choose steel over nylon for ease of production.

The proper etch depth for the printing plates will vary, between .0006″ to .0015″. The most common etch depths range from .001″ to .0012″ (24 to 28 microns). The theoretical ink lay down will vary according to the plate type, etch depth, shape & hardness of the silicone pad. The theoretical lay down ranges from .00057″ to .00075″ (12 to 16 microns), depending upon etch depth. Also, temperature, humidity and other factors in your environment may influence the variations of ink lay down.




This is a strip of spring steel, 0.5 mm (0.02 in.) in thickness, with a very fine surface, and a hardness ranging between approx. 48 and 54 Rockwell. In the press, the steel strip is held in the ink well by a metal plate. The advantage of steel strip cliches over photopolymer ones is that within one cliche, sections of a motif can be screened while other sections are not. As well, etching can be done in stages, i.e., certain portions of a motif can be etched more or less deeply than others. The quantity of prints which can be made depends on the type of press used and the settings, as a steel strip cliche is somewhat softer than a doctor blade. In practice, the serviceability allows between 20,000 and 50,000 printing runs.

Thin Plates are Suitable for use on both open and sealed cup pad-printing machines.

Advantages of using thin steel pad printing plates

  1. Less dependent on a clean air environment, considerably more durable and less easily damaged than softer photopolymer plates.
  2. Have accurately controlled etch depths adjusted to suit all requirements
  3. Hard wearing and more resistant to scratching than photopolymer plates
  4.  Can be effectively screened
  5.  Can be punched with holes to accommodate pin registration requirements
  6. Are capable of producing much finer detail than photopolymer plates
  7. Are ideal for use on medium volume applications up to 200,000 impressions
  8. thin cliché plates are priced to be a sound economic alternative to both the softer photopolymer pad printing plates and 10mm thick cliché dies



pad printing thick steel plate

This classic cliche is produced from special high-grade, abrasion-proof steel. Its area of application is found primarily in the industrial sector. Steel cliches are especially suited to high quantity printing runs and closed ink systems. The quality of these cliches is unequaled. This is evident from their absolute sharpness of contour, multi-stage etching, utilization of screens of all types, very fine surface, low susceptibility to physical damage and consistency in high quantity printing runs. The number of prints which can be achieved using this cliche comes to at least 2,00,000 doctoring operations.

Steel plates are made from a high-quality, abrasion-proof special steel.The processing is very complicated and expensive machines are needed. The raw material from the steel manufacturer is cut according to the required dimensions and all 6 sides are ground, hardened (up to 65 HRC), and lapped. The surface roughness is approx. 3 µ. For a very fine finish, the lapped side can be additionally polished

Thick Plates are Suitable for use on both open and sealed cup pad-printing machines.

Advantages of using Thick steel pad printing plates are

  1. Are the most durable and resilient pad printing cliché plates
  2. Have accurately controlled etch depths adjusted to suit all requirements
  3. Can be effectively screened
  4. Are capable of producing fine detail
  5. Can be re-lapped and re-used
  6. Are perfect for high volume applications up to 1,000,000+ impressions
  7. For superior quality images, particularly when printing fine detail, choose steel cliché pad printing plates

Thick Steel plates are mainly used in the industrial sector as they are most
suitable due to their long service life and are especially suitable for closed ink cup systems. The quality achieved with these plates cannot be reached by other means, i.e.:
• Absolute definition
• Various etch depths on one die plate
• Use of process of all types
• Very fine surface finish
• No need for additional supporting plate
• Low risk of mechanical damage
• Extreme durability (high print run)
This way steel plates can be used for all print jobs. The number of prints
possible with steel plates is mostly given by manufacturers with the magical number “1 million”. Since the closed ink cup system has been on the market, the steel plate has won back its great significance, as its extreme surface durability is very important in this application.




Photopolymer cliches consist of a UV light sensitive layer of plastic which, if necessary, is bonded to a metal carrier by an adhesive coating. Single as well as double-layer materials are used for photopolymer cliches. With the latter, the upper layer of approx. 25 μm is generally carried off during the developing process. These cliches are unsuited to screened motifs. The thickness of the single-layer material is up to 400 μm, and the etching depth is controlled by the exposure and the use of a screen. The number of prints which can be obtained using this cliches lies in the range of some 10.000 doctoring operations. Under optimal conditions runs up to 100.000 prints are attainable. Areas of use for this type of cliche include (progressive) proofs, pre-series runs and smaller jobs.



Two further types of cliche are used for pad printing. For rotary presses, steel rollers are necessary. Since the printing may sometimes be done in a scope of
360°, the film montage and production of the rollers is very expensive. Special etching equipment is also required.
In many areas of industrial production, transitional codes are to be printed, such as the date of production, batch number, model number, etc. In order to avoid the constant production and changeover of new cliches, it is advisable to work with encoding cliches or encoding rods. These cliches are the same thickness as steel cliches, but are polished on the two long sides. Thereby, the rods lie very close together and can be pushed against each other in the ink well. This shift permits any combination of digits and letters to be printed without the necessity of interrupting the production process.

Our Other Buying Guides


Check out buying guide for Pad Printing Machine


Check out buying guide for Pad Printing Tampon


Check out buying guide for Pad Printing Ink

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Pad Printing Plate, Silicon Pad, Jig Fixture, Doctor Blade, Consumables

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Different sizes of Pad Printing Plates

Different types of Pad Printing Silicon Pads


Pad Printing Steel Plate

Closed Cup Machine or Open Ink Well Machine – Plates No Problem!!! We always have a ready stock of large variety of different sizes of Cliche Plates or Tampon Plates. We have around 40 odd sizes of plates ready for the customer. Our Steel cliches are especially suited to high quantity printing. Tell me more…

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Doctor Blade, Ink Cups.

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Pad Printing Silicone Pad

We have around 400 odd different varieties of Printing Silicon Rubber Pads or Tampon pads. Tampons are available in three different Shore A Hardness namely soft, medium and Hard. Round, Square and Rooftop(long) shapes are cataloged. they can be downloaded in PDF format.Tell me more…

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Carrom Screen Printing

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Epoxy, Acrylic Jig Fixture

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