Pad Printing Versus Screen Printing

Pad printing

Published on June 16th, 2021

For the purpose of certain printing jobs, such as putting branding onto promotional items, it is likely to be the case that one of the two of pad printing or screen printing is used by the commercial printer doing the job.

Although which of the processes to use is a decision that is ultimately made by the printer, it is still helpful nonetheless to be aware of the two printing processes and how they work.

Pad Printing

The clue with how this type of printing works is in the name. Pad printing involves the transfer of ink from off of a pad of silicone and onto the item that is being printed on to.

The process is actually somewhat similar to the stamps that you played with as a child during craft time. Professional pad printing is a slightly more sophisticated version of that form of printing.

A pad printing machine works to keep the printing pad and the item stationary in place. It then presses the silicone pad down into a plate of ink that has been specially made into the shape of the artwork or logo that is being printed.

After that, the pad is pressed against the item and then left to dry in the air. The entire process is a rather straightforward one.

Screen Printing

To perform screen printing there is the requirement to create a stencil, which is then applied onto a woven mesh material. The stencil is used to produce an area that allows ink or any other printing substances to pass through.

Although nowadays this process is mainly used for the purpose of printing onto tee shirts, the process actually has its routes in ancient China – roughly between 960 AD and 1279 AD.

The modern equipment and machinery that is used for screen printing at present is mainly automated and very sophisticated.

The process lends itself perfectly for the effective and quick printing of promotional items, including tee shirts. However, where there is a lot of intricate detailing, then this process is not the best one to use.


When it comes to making a decision about which of these two printing methods is the best, what it really comes down to is the printing project that you have at hand.

For this reason, it is best to take into account what item you are printing on to and what kind of results you are after before coming to a decision on whether to go with pad printing or screen printing.

Where the item being printed onto is small and consists of lots of intricate detailing, then the process to go with is pad printing. It is also a good option for when printing onto items that are unusually shaped.

This is also true for when printing onto uneven or three dimensional surfaces. However, when printing onto big areas with a large print, such as onto tee shirts and other items of clothing, then screen printing is the better choice to go with.