Tampo printing, pad printing, and tampography are all names for the same basic process whereby a silicon pad is used to transfer ink from an etched printing plate onto a substrate.
Traditionally, tampo printing has been utilized in printing scenarios where the substrate lacks a flat surface and would prove difficult to print due to surface texture, complexity or geometry. The inherent flexibility of the silicon pad used to transfer the ink allows it to apply full contact with the surface being printed despite these irregularities. This results in a more consistent print beyond the limitations of silk screening or offset printing.
This method of printing became popularized in the 1970s with the advent of silicon. Silicon tampons, or tampo print pads, are more practical, more consistent in hardness and surface texture, and last longer than their natural rubber predecessors.
The tampo printing process consists of an ink cup that moves over an etching plate (also known as a cliché or stereotype) and fills it with ink. A silicon pad is then pressed flush with the etching plate, the pad picks up the ink in the etching plate (also known as a motif) when it lifts. The pad is then able to transfer the ink to the substrate being printed.
Video of Tampo Print Process
When you think of pad printing, think of rubber stamping, it’s the same basic process of transferring ink from one surface to another. The primary difference is that in Tampo printing, the design is on the etching plate holding the ink rather than on the rubber or silicon surface itself.
Tampo printing can be used to print many irregularly shaped or small detailed surfaces - anything from small toys or promotional items such as pens or keychains to large-scale appliances and automotive parts. In the world of container packaging, tampo printing is often used on the top of bottle caps or on bottles with curved surfaces that won’t work well with silk screening.