Pad Printing Equipment

The best place to buy or sell used printing equipment is online. Commercial print shop owners seeking to buy or sell machinery don't have to spend hours reading the want ads or pounding the pavement. Wholesale graphic arts websites offer industry professionals a wide range of good quality, refurbished machines, including pad printing equipment, web-fed offset presses, bindery and finishing machines, screen printers, prepress machines, and newer digital presses. Consumables, such as latex and oil-based inks, solvents, fixatives, cleansers, and replacement parts are also available online. Print shop owners upgrading to newer machines can find a ready market for buyers of high quality machinery. But commercial equipment is expensive and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, because of superior quality and durable construction, refurbished units are still very good buys. Buyers can comparison shop online vendors with ease, selecting the best equipment for the money. Some Internet suppliers also offer technical advice, leasing, and financing options to help buyers make the best decisions.

Finding high quality refurbished equipment locally is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Sellers may list used printing equipment in classified newspaper ads, but a classified ad doesn't allow buyers to get enough information to make wise choices. The advantage to dealing with a wholesale Internet vendor is that buyers don't have to bid or buy in the dark. Flexible Internet advertising allows vendors and equipment suppliers to feature full descriptions, color photographs, streaming demonstration videos, and links to more information. Buyers can usually view a video including a hands-on demonstration after reviewing online specifications. Purchasing used printing equipment is really a smart move. Units may be refurbished, but most vendors offer limited warranties on high quality presses, cutters, binders, and folders that have withstood heavy usage and yet, have decades of use left. New companies just opening up shop usually cannot afford to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into new equipment, but refurbished machines purchased from reputable dealers can give them a good head start in a lucrative field.

Pad printing equipment, used for imprinting two-dimensional graphics onto three-dimensional irregularly shaped items, is in high demand. Specialty printing companies earn their bread and butter from machines that can imprint anything from coffee mugs, soccer balls, and pens, to computer cases, telephones, and aerosol cans. Nearly every industry, including automotive, electrical, agricultural, and retail utilizes merchandise which must be imprinted with a company logo, serial number, or alphabet, in the case of computer keyboards. Traditional methods, such as web offset, digital, or flexography, are designed to print on flat surfaces and are incapable of imprinting irregular objects. But pad printing uses a unique process, similar to offset printing, to cause ink to adhere to three-dimensional objects using one, two, or four-color processes.

Invented in the 1960s, pad printing equipment transfers images, such as logos and lettering, onto three-dimensional items that are round, cylindrical, flat, or textured. Original artwork is first etched onto a metal or photopolymer plate, which comes in contact with inverted ink cups that fill the etched image with sticky ink. The metal plate, with its inked image, then offsets onto pads constructed of molded rubber; hence the term, "pad printing." The rubber pad's flexibility enables it to wrap around or conform to the irregular shape of three-dimensional objects, such as cups, toy cars, keyboards, ballpoint pens, and basketballs. When the rubber pad makes contact with the irregularly shaped object to be imprinted, the ink is released onto the object and dries almost instantly. The result is a beautifully imprinted item ready for use or resale. Similarly, God imprints the image of His Son Christ Jesus upon our spirits when we accept Him as Savior. "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (I Corinthians 15:47-49).

Commercial print shop owners who serve specialty advertising companies, manufacturers, and retailers may purchase used equipment to imprint objects of all kinds. Several different presses have different applications depending on the type of material to be imprinted. When it comes to imprinting on clothing, direct to garment machines include silk screen, dye sublimation, and the newer digital presses. High gloss pamphlets, brochures, catalogs and magazines require production with high speed web offset presses. Web offset presses can produce much higher volumes than sheet fed offset presses, which are more suitable for small runs of newsletters, pamphlets, and brochures printed on non-coated paper stock. Quite a bit of used printing equipment was originally crafted in Germany and are precision-calibrated to produce accurately registered, four-color process publications. Proper registration of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black produce the crisp full color images that make brochures, annual reports, and mailers so appealing. Without the capability of precisely registering and overlaying process color inks, commercial print shops might as well go out of business.

Because presses are so exactingly crafted, used machinery, including pad printing equipment, is an investment that can more than pay for itself in the long run. A good quality publication used as part of an advertising or promotional campaign can net hundreds of thousands of dollars in consumer sales. A full color annual report with spot varnishes, die cuts, and blind embossing can motivate wealthy philanthropists to donate a hospital wing or new public school to a community. As long as the need for visual communication exists, there will be demand for press production of the printed word. Whether commercial print shop owners buy the latest digital or used printing equipment, the expense is well worth the aesthetic value and monetary reward inherent in the industry.

Used Printing Equipment

Buying used printing equipment can be an asset to the budget of any professional printing company. As one might incorrectly assume, this does not insinuate that used screen printing equipment is of lesser value, unwarranteed or faulty in any way. The skyrocketing value of this type of art and the large physical size of the machinery have created a demand and a necessity for the pre-owned printer equipment industry. Due to the demand, this type of printing is no longer done on small machines, but rather room-sized, monolithic pieces of machinery. These tools are not small in size nor in cost. That is why buying pre-owned printing supplies makes much more sense and allows someone to start out in this industry without insurmountable debt.

Silk screening, serigraphy and screen printing are all names for the technique that creates a sharp-edged image (called a print or serigraph) using a stencil. It actually began as an industrial type of printing. American artists then began to use it in creating beautiful pieces of art in the late 1800s. It is the most widely used form of print making. This popularity is closely related to its versatility. Not only can an artist or company print on T-shirts, hats and other forms of clothing, but they can also print on CDs, DVDs, ceramic, plastic, wood and many, many other materials. Now that used screen printing equipment is easy to obtain, underground printers have emerged on the scene. Any agency or movement can voice an opinion on a T-shirt and have walking advertisements do their marketing. In fact, the DIY style that was popular in underground or garage-based print shops is now very chic and is being seen in movies and television shows.

When a large batch of printed material is needed, or the image is huge, graphic design is utilized. This makes it possible to print posters or displays that are large in size and many in number. Ink jet processing and dye sublimation are still not as versatile in the kinds and types of media they can print on. Used printing equipment can even print full color pieces using CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). CMYK is often chosen in preference to the older RGB (red, green and blue) standard. "Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet." (Job 13:27)

The process of making a serigraph is relatively easy and affordable, and even more affordable with the advent of used screen printing equipment. A screen is made from a tightly woven piece of material. It used to be silk, but since the 1940s it is usually made out of polyester or other synthetic fabrics. This piece of material is then stretched tightly over a frame of aluminum or wood. Then a non-permeable substance is used to form a stencil. This stencil is then placed on the fabric to block the ink. The stencil is a negative version of the picture or logo to be printed. In other words, the open spaces on the stencil are where the ink will go, and the filled spaces are where no ink will appear in the final image.

The screen is then placed on top of papyrus or fabric. Ink is then placed on top, and a fill bar is used to fill the mesh with ink. Most of this portion has to be done by hand, even if operating new or pre-owned screen printing equipment. The frame is already on the machine, though. As the fabric is pressed onto the silk or polyester with the stenciled image, the operator then squeegees the fabric slowly from front to back. This imprints the image. Some machines automatically squeegee, while other used printing equipment require the operator to manually squeegee to remove excess ink. Graphic prints involve drying the fabric between colors and sometimes using different screens for each color. Of these three types of techniques, the dry bed is most popular, though the cylinder and the rotary are still in use today. Used screen printing equipment can be easily found that utilize any of these three styles of silk screening.

The silk or polyester stretched on the frame can be reused after each print job. However, if the stenciled design is no longer going to be utilized, the silk or polyester needs to be reclaimed. Reclaiming involves cleaning all of the remaining ink off of it and spraying the stencil with a stencil removing agent. This stencil removing agent will clear all emulsion that remains. There are liquid, gel and powder stencil removers. The powder stencil removers have to be mixed with water before use, so they can be considered as a form of liquid, though as a powder they tend to be safer in industrial settings. In the used printing equipment industry great effort is taken to completely remove all trace of past stencils. After applying the removal agent, the emulsion has to then be washed away using a high pressure water sprayer. Under normal usage, the silk or polyester would then be ready to use again.

However, used screen printing equipment retailers then go a step further. These companies submit the screens to a dehazing process. Dehazing removes all residues that might leave a faint trace or "ghost image" on subsequent print runs. This haze is due to ink trapped in the mesh, usually at the points of overlapping. After this dehazing process, the screens as well as all the other machinery is either ready to use again or ready to sell to the next budding screenprinter.

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