Screen Printing Processes | PDS International | +44 (0)1226 770772


 

 

 

 

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Process Comparison for Product Decorating Printing Systems

This process comparison is where the six processes mentioned are used in product printing, marking and decorating applications. It is for guidance purposes only but will give you a starting point when considering a process. PDS International Limited will be happy to discuss in much greater detail your requirement. The range of equipment available with the six processes is vast and you really need to get it right first time. Talk to us and experience the PDS DIFFERENCE.

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Printing Processes Compared:

To view the Comparisons, clicke on the +/- next to the heading you are intrested in.

+/- Core Elements Comparison

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Recognition factors
Thicker and more opaque, no clear or adhesive at edges
Thinner and less opaque fine copy; large colour areas may look weak
Thin ink films. Transparent colours. Smooth surfaces. White or cream substrates. If container is clear product must be light
Colours usually "de-bossed", can be bright gold or silver
May have tooling "halo" around design, usually multicolour.
Random dots thin ink film
Performance
Flat bed up to 900 per hour. Cylinder up to 4000 per hour
Hand fed 500 per hour. Automatic 1500 per hour. Multiple components 20,000 per hour
Up to 30,000 per hour.
Up to 5000 per hour for rotary
Up to 500 square metres per hour
Image size and limitations
Screens can be made any size
7 by 14 inches usual limit, special machines can print 10 by 36
Normally small containers. Can go up to 12 inch diameter. With 9 inch high image. Flat lids to suit these containers can also be printed on separate machines
Limited by pressure of machine and tendency to trap air, usual range 300 to 500 psi; roll-on solves air entrapment and can apply 12 by 24 inches
Limited by pressure of machine and tendency to trap air; usual range 100 to 300 psi (soft goods as low as 30 to 50 psi); roll-on solves air entrapment and can apply 12 by 24 inches
Can very large, up to 5 metres wide. Industrial printers up to 1500mm. Flatbeds 3 metres by 2 metres
Resolution of detail
Medium
Fine to medium
Fine to medium
Medium
Fine - including 133- line four-colour process
Fine

+/- Printing Colour Comparison

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Large areas of solid colour
OK with good equipment and operator
Not good without multiple prints of colour
Only suitable on light substrates
Possible, but trapped air can be a problem; roll- on machine will help
Possible but trapped air can be a problem; roll-on machine will help
OK but normally 4 colour process. Some systems can print line colour with dedicated ink supply
Opacity
Good
Poor; with multiple prints only fair
Very poor
Good
Good if screen printed; fair if gravure printed
Fairly Good
Colour match
Your responsibility in-house or ordered from outside supplier
Your responsibility in-house or ordered from outside supplier
Limited due to the low film weight
Use closest colour of foil available, for long runs get it custom formulated
Inks have to be custom formulated when transfer is printed
Uses process colour but suffers from colour drift on runs
Registration of colours if multicoloured
Fair to good depending on equipment, tooling, operator and size stability of plastic from first to last print
Fair to very good depending on equipment and whether part stays in same nest through all print stations. Also on quality of tooling
Very good on specialised machines. Normally the wet on wet process means that colours have to be adjacent rather than over lapping
Fair to good depending on equipment, tooling, operator and size stability of plastic
Very good; four colour process, 133 - line screen demands tight registration; so does multicolour and fine detail
Registration is not a problem

+/- Printable Shapes

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Part shape and limitations
Flat or single curve (cylinders)
Can be irregular or compound curve but artwork distortion requires trial and error to correct
Flat, cylindrical or tapered. Any irregularity will cause the print to miss
Flat or single curve (cylinders)
Flat or single curve or slight compound curve; carrier paper wrinkling limits shape and size on compound curves
Flat. Uneven surfaces are possible but the image quality reduces as the distance from the head increases
Arc limits on cylinder or a cylinder with draft or taper 10 or less
Almost 3600, avoiding ink to screen contact on the wrap if it will be a problem
Approximately 1000 arc for reciprocal machine or 3600 for special wrap
360o with slight overlap
Approximately 900 arc for reciprocal machine; 3600 (with slight overlap preferred) for wrap machines
Approximately 900 arc for reciprocal machine; 3600 with slight overlap preferred for wrap machine except if wax release; then 3600 minus 1/8 inch
N/A

+/- Wet or Dry Inks

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Process wet ink or dry
Wet - drying or curing required between and/or after final colour
Wet - drying or curing required between and/or after final colour; some ink systems can be printed "wet on wet"
Wet on wet then dry
Dry - proceed to next process
Dry - proceed to next process
Wet. Solvent based, water based and UV Curing Inks

+/- Consumables

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Inventory required
Screens of various meshes; inks to make custom colours for particular substrate chemistry; solvents, cleaners, retarders, squeegees; or order match colour inks as needed
Pads of various sizes, shapes and durometer; inks to make custom colours for particular substrate chemistries, solvents, cleaners, retarders; or order match colours as needed
Mandrels for product. Print rollers. Blanket rollers. Plates. Inks and solvents. Different machines for cylindrical and flat
Various hot-stamping foils in various colours of chemistries compatible with surfaces to be marked; or order as needed
Heat transfers for a specific job
Inks, cleaners, substrate to suit digital printing

+/- Health & Safety Comparison

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Health and Safety
High levels of flammable solvents and inks require careful handling and storage. UV Curing inks must not come into contact with the skin. Dispose of with care; never into sewerage system. Guarding limited
High levels of flammable solvents and inks require careful handling and storage. Dispose of with care; never into sewerage system. Guarding limited
High speed machines must be well guarded. UV has to be shielded. Generally totally enclosed. Normal precautions for handling ink apply
Must be well guarded
Must be well guarded
On solvent systems extraction is needed. UV needs shielding. Ensure Health and Safety Data Sheets are available for the inks

+/- Skill Requirement Comparison

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Learning-curve time frame for system start-up
Days to weeks
Days to weeks
Days to weeks
Hours to days
Hours to days
Days
New-operator learning-curve time frame
Hours to days
Hours to days
Hours to days
Minutes to hours
Minutes to hours
Days to weeks
Set-up skill level
Skilled
Skilled
Skilled
Semi-skilled
Semi-skilled
Skilled
Operator skill level
Semi-skilled
Semi-skilled
Semi-skilled
Unskilled
Unskilled
Depends what responsibilities are. Either unskilled or skilled

+/- Part Changeover Comparison

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Part changeover, new part, and new design
Minutes to hours to change tooling (nest), change screens, change inks, reregister (longer for multicolour)
Minutes to hours to change tooling (nest), change plates, change pads, change inks, reregister (longer for multicolour)
Minutes to hours. Design change can be very fast as long as the colours are the same. Changeover to another shape and design can take hours. The more sophisticated the machine the faster the change over
Seconds to minutes (rarely hours) to change tooling (nest), change application head, change foil, reregister (longer for multicolour), recheck pressure, dwell and temperature
Seconds to minutes (rarely hours) to change tooling (nest), change application head, roll of heat transfers, (reregister time same as for single colour), recheck pressure, dwell and temperature
Minutes

+/- Varience Issues Comparison

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Process variance causing defective "print"
Ink viscosity somewhat critical
Ink viscosity extremely critical
Very stable if set up properly
Process is quite stable; silicone rubber die "forgives" mild surface blemishes
Process is quite stable since less pressure is required; softer rubber (50 to 60 durometer) "forgives" many surface blemishes
Changes in ambient conditions will affect performance. Blockage of heads an issue particularly with solvent systems
Part variance causing defective "print"
Poor surface finish and such blemishes as sink marks (some defects)
Surface blemishes usually unaffected unless blemish is extreme (least defects)
Product variation will cause problems. Surface must be smooth and very clean. Dirt can damage all the rollers and mean a complete strip down
Direct ram overcomes thickness changes; toggle machines vary sensitive to thickness changes (some defects)
Direct ram overcomes thickness changes; toggle machines very sensitive to thickness changes (some defects)
Substrate must be clean and at a stable temperature. Variation in thickness or position can cause catastrophic head damage

+/- Costings Comparison

 

Direct Screen Printing

Pad (Tampo) Printing

Dry Offset Printing

Hot Foil Printing

Heat Applied Transfers

Digital Printing

Cost of equipment
Small to large area (100 sq. in.) not very cost sensitive but very cost sensitive to multicolour
Small to large area cost sensitive; cost sensitive also to multicolour
Expensive. Requires high volume print runs
Small to large area cost sensitive (multicolour more than one pass or more than on machine)
Cost sensitive to size; not sensitive to multicolour tooling (nest and heads); cost same for one or multicolour
Equipment cost depends on size depends on size. From £5,000.00 to £1.500,000.00
Cost of tooling
Low to moderate for single colour, moderate to high depending on tolerances required for multicolour
Low to moderate for single colour, moderate to high depending on tolerances required for multicolour
High for different tapers
Low to moderate for single colour, moderate to high depending on tolerances required for multicolour
Low to moderate cost as for single colour even though graphics may be multicolour
N/A
Part input/output equipment cost
Approximately same for all processes but may be more costly for multicolour
Approximately same for all processes but may be more costly for multicolour
High speeds require sophisticated handling devices
Approximately same for all processes but may be more costly for multicolour
Approximately same for all processes but is not more costly for multicolour
May need lamination or UV varnish that is screen or digitally printed
Cost of inks, foil transfers
Inks - not very cost sensitive to size
Inks - not very cost sensitive to size
Inks - not very cost sensitive to size
Foils - cost sensitive to size; costs for multicolour increase linearly per colour and area
Transfers - cost sensitive to size, not as sensitive to additional colours
Inks-expensive

 

 

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PDS International Limited, Innovation Way, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S75 1JL, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1226 770772, Fax: +44 (0)1226 294797, Email: info@pdsinternational.com

 

 

 

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