Rare Opportunity to Own a Hard Hat Pad Printing Machine with No Lead Time!

Enhance the safety of your employees while promoting brand awareness.  Putting your logo on your company’s hard hats isn’t just good marketing; it could also make your employees safer.  And Engineered Printing Solutions currently has a unique opportunity for a turnkey hard hat pad printing system.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on long-term plans for many businesses.  Unforeseen shifts in supply and demand have upset traditional industries (who knew that the moribund retail grocery industry would have such a banner year?) and made instant superstars out of startups (hello Zoom).  Other companies have rejiggered capital investment plans, some speeding up projects to take advantage of historically cheap money while others are cancelling projects that no longer make sound business sense.

In May of this year, one company that falls into the latter category took delivery of a hard hat pad printing system designed and built by Engineered Printing Solutions.  Due to the rapidly-changing business climate in the age of Covid-19, the project for which the system was purchased was cancelled before our customer even had time to uncrate the machine, and EPS agreed to find a buyer for this never-used equipment.  This represents an incredible opportunity for someone looking for a turnkey hard hat printing solution, as the system is crated and ready for delivery, with zero lead time, as all of the development of the system such as finding the right pretreatment method and part transport system has already occurred.

At the heart of the machine is a KP08 3 Color Extended Neck pad printer, with three 110mm circular ceramic-ring style sealed ink cups and three pads.  Integrated twin plasma pretreatment nozzles ensure perfect adhesion.  A heavy-duty five-station linear servo shuttle transports the part for printing, and a servo-controlled rotational fixture rotates the part for printing on all sides.  An automatic programmable pad cleaner cleans the pad at operator-specified intervals, or at preprogrammed setpoints, for perfect image quality every time.

With three pads, the machine can be programmed for a variety of print modes:

  • 3 single images at three discreet locations, with up to three colors each
  • One single color image at one location
  • One 2-color image at one location and a single-color image at another location
  • Two single-color images at two locations
  • One single image at one location

You can see a video of this machine printing a one-color image in one location here:

This hard hat printing system is capable of printing images up to four inches in diameter.  The operator controls all functions through a five-inch display panel which allows for control of such functions as timer delays, delays on front and back, timed inking, counter, and machine cycle speed. The rotary fixture, pretreat station and shuttle transport are also controlled through the touchscreen display panel.

Contact us today to learn more about this great opportunity to own a tested, never-used, turnkey hard hat pad printing system!

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EPS Expedites Machine Delivery to Fight COVID-19

KP08 Catheter Printer

KP08 Catheter Printer

As we’ve noted before, many of our customers have been deemed “essential” in the fight against COVID-19.   Last week, one reached out to us to say that they had been contacted by the White House COVID-19 Task Force about dramatically ramping up production of medical devices in anticipation of enormous demand.  They wanted to know, could we deliver a catheter printing machine in two to three weeks?

EPS has built medical product printing machines for many customers, so the technical challenges were slight.  The greater challenges were logistical in the “new normal” of physical distancing.  How would we conduct the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT)?  How would we perform the standard installation, which usually involves sending a technician to the customer’s facility for onsite installation and training?

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every aspect of the global economy, but perhaps nowhere more so than in the manufacturing sector, where working from home just isn’t a possibility.  We’ve written in the past about our efforts to “flatten the curve” and keep our employees safe and healthy, and we are continuing to follow CDC and state guidelines as they evolve.  Our sales department is working from home but continuing to communicate with customers.  Our software engineers are also working remotely. Additionally, EPS is investigating opportunities under the CARES Act, passed by Congress to encourage companies to retain workers during the COVID-19 crisis, in order to ensure that we can continue to offer our full range of goods and services, from industrial inkjet printers and pad print machines to custom pad print pads and laser-engraved pad print clichés.  We have not reduced our workforce.  Our capabilities remain undiminished, and we will do everything we can to keep our team intact.

Our assembly department is also adopting best practices to discourage the spread of the virus.  Our production floor is large, as are our machines, so physical distancing has always been the case for us.  Similarly, nitrile gloves have always been standard equipment, since ink can be messy.  Isopropyl alcohol is a standard item found on every work bench.  Masks are available for any who wish to wear one.  In addition, we have adopted flex-time schedules, with some of our employees coming in to work in the evenings and on weekends.

Our curve-flattening measures seem to be paying off.  To date, not a single employee of EPS has tested positive for the coronavirus, and we have been able to provide an uninterrupted supply of print consumables.  We are also taking new machine orders and fulfilling existing orders.

In short, we are able to provide the full range of products and services that we always provide.  We will deliver the medical device-marking machine to our customer in the time-frame allotted, along with providing clichés with their artwork.  We have begun conducting FATs by video, and we have had the ability to remotely diagnose and service machines for years, so we continue to provide the after-sales service we pride ourselves on.

Life may never go back to as before, but some things won’t change.  Engineered Printing Solutions will still offer a complete range of industrial inkjet printers, pad print machines, ancillary equipment such as pretreatment systems, part-loading and –unloading automation, dryers, laser cliché makers, and other optional devices, as well as custom pad print pads, inks, and printing plates for your direct-to-object part-decoration needs.

Got a part-decorating challenge?  Drop us a line—let’s start a conversation!

EPS Offers a Turn-Key Solution for Plate-Making

Whether you are an existing customer of EPS, a prospective consumables customer, or use other service providers it is important for you to have a quality assurance process in place. Poor quality clichés adversely impact the quality of the decoration you want printed.

At EPS, we adhere to the highest standards in our quality control procedures. To ensure we deliver on our promise of providing the best services available we recently invested in a new top of the line Zeiss Smartzoom 5 – fully motorized digital microscope.


This amazing piece of equipment allows our plate making team to quickly and accurately determine whether a plate falls within specifications during quality control checks. Members of the plate making team are able to check for image depth deviations, defects and imperfections that occur during the etching process. The information is then recorded in the customer’s data (folder/file).

The Smartzoom 5 has greatly improved the capabilities of the plate department over the Nikon measuring microscope that was previously used. This sizeable financial commitment underscores our pledge to deliver quality products to our customers.

Contact us to discuss our full line of pad printing consumables.

Industrial Printing – Customer Needs & Challenges!

In this edition of EPS Weekly, I caught up with Dan Leiter, sales engineer here at Engineered Printing Solutions. Dan has been in the printing industry for 25 years, with the last 10 years of it providing industrial printing solutions to clients via both pad printing and inkjet technology. We had an interesting conversation that touched upon a number of things related to the dynamics of the customer relationship. This ranged from the inception of the EPS/Client relationship to ongoing support and maintenance of a solution that has already been designed and delivered.

What do you think is the most critical consideration when beginning to work with a client toward the custom design of an industrial printing machine, be it a pad or inkjet printing solution?

The qualification process of defining the customer’s needs and delivering a solution or product that meets those needs is by far the most critical part of the process. It can be a difficult job, because a lot of our larger customers often have the involvement of numerous people from various departments such as engineering, operations, and marketing. The project might start out with a very simple process for a company, but as more players get involved, more requirements get brought in to the mix that have to be met.

As a result, we have worked hard over the years to establish and confirm expectations as early in the project as possible. We have achieved this through extensive specifying of needs with our customers to minimize unnecessary research and development costs, as well as keep projects on schedule.”

Do you feel that taking this ‘deeper dive’ with specifying needs early on with the customer has been successful in defining what the customer is truly looking for and needs?

“Yes. It has allowed us to define things, so that invariably when a customer approaches us later in the process regarding a specific functionality (or feature) that was requested, we can in turn reassure them that they will be getting exactly what was detailed in the design documentation.

On the other hand, if the customer is requesting additional features and/or functionalities after an entire process and procedure has been documented, that’s something different. Yes, we are always going to go above and beyond to make our customers extremely satisfied with the end product. However, add-ons and change requests in the middle of a machines design inevitably result in more project hours and thus additional costs.

The pre-build specification process places a milestone in the path, which protects both the customer and EPS by minimizing the probability of unforeseen costs and completion delays. So ultimately, it’s about getting as granular as possible when establishing expectations, and keeping everybody on task.”

As a sales engineer, what are some of the things that you find most gratifying (as well as challenging) when you’re working toward a custom, industrial printing solution for a customer?

“I’ve been in the graphic arts industry my entire adult life. We all claim to have ‘ink in our veins’. As a result, I have a natural inclination toward the entire printing process, including direct-to-shape, which I’ve been doing here at EPS over the last 10 years.

What makes it challenging is that we often have to reinvent the wheel to meet our customer’s specific needs. Every job can be an entirely different product – every job can comes with an entirely different set of requirements. You have to ‘define’ all of these requirements and then develop a solution that is going to ‘address’ all of them…each and every time.

I would say what makes it gratifying is taking a complex set of requirements (that are unique in nature) and exceeding the customer’s expectations in the end. A lot of what we do here is about helping our customers bring an innovation and/or invention to life. We are playing an active part in making entrepreneurial visions a reality. This is why we refer to our customers as partners. It’s a reference that is used all too often, but is completely fitting in our business.”

Tell me more about the customization side in all of this. What do you mean when you say “every job is different”? Can you give some examples?

“There is almost always a difference and/or variation when it comes to the automation that we customize for a client. This ranges from the type, size and shape of the product that they’re looking to decorate on, to the way in which they are looking to decorate on it. Product examples as simple as a tape measure, a glass bottle, a flashcard (to name a few), still have specific print areas that the customer wants to decorate.  This in and of itself creates the need for a custom fixture, and that makes it unique to that particular customer. Even with similar shaped products, it’s different from customer to customer. Customers manufacturing the same type of product can have different processes in which our equipment needs to fit.

They’re all trying to create new processes to improve their quality and efficiencies. It’s exciting, but at the same time challenging. That being said, we love being part of it!”

Can you think of a specific industrial printing solution (pad or inkjet) that stands out as far as size and scope?

“A project that comes to mind is a printing services company that was looking for a digital inkjet machine that would exclusively work on their direct mail campaign. The machine needed to offer heavy personalization, short run capability and high throughput. In addition, the client wanted a solution that would print onto a pen 180 degrees (around the circumference of the pen barrel), in two different colors, and onto a dozen different pen styles.

These requirements required a digital inkjet printer that was highly customized from both an automation and software standpoint. When you’re working with a number of variables that require specific robotic features and heavy software programming, you’re now looking at a fairly complex and sophisticated machine. You are also looking at a significant investment.

In the end our mechanical and software engineers worked together to deliver a heavily customized XD-70 Industrial Inkjet Printer. (Click link for more information on standard configuration). The machine met all the demands that the client requested and we’ve been providing ongoing training and field support since it was deployed to their manufacturing environment last year.”

What do you think the future landscape of industrial printing looks like, and do you see it changing how you work with your customers?

“In terms of the direction that the industry is going, digital is clearly driving the bus now. Digital is still in its relative infancy as far as a decorating technology. Where digital needs to go to achieve broad market acceptance primarily involves pretreatment and ink adhesion.

Getting the ink to stick to the product and meet customer durability standards is paramount. Most of our customers are not printing on ‘throwaway’ items and have stringent requirements when it comes to this. The image needs to be able to maintain its quality while being exposed to various degrees of wear and tear, cleaning and expected life of the product.

It is my belief that new methods of pretreatment will be entering the market and gaining acceptance. Currently we use various methods; a chemical wipe, a flame, corona, and plasma treatments.  Although they all have their strengths, ink adhesion with glass, metal and ceramics come with challenges. It is the new pretreatments that are expected to largely address these challenges, allowing greater ink adhesion and durability.

As far as how we are going to be working with our customers towards solutions, it will still be a lot of customization based on customer needs, and probably more. This is because customers (particularly large ones) will be looking for an all in one machine specific to their product line. A company that wants to print on 18 different products (all of various shapes, sizes and substrate types), and wants a single machine to accomplish is what you’re looking at here. That’s where we come in, because that’s what we do at EPS. That’s what we’ve already been doing for quite some time.”

For more information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, such as standard pad printers, industrial inkjet, consumables and auxiliary equipment, visit www.epsvt.com, email info@epsvt.com or call 1-800-272-7764.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Pad Printing – It’s All About The Pad!

The print pad is one of (if not the) most important aspects of the pad printing process. Made from silicone rubber, it is the perfect ink transfer medium when designed, used and maintained correctly.

The properly molded print pad will have the following features:

  • Excellent adhesion
  • Flawless Ink Detachment
  • Perfect Ink Transfer
  • Stability of Form
  • Resistance to Solvents & Inks

Printing pads comes in all shapes and sizes and are often custom designed. This is because they are created for very specific applications, both unique and specialized.  Below are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to the print pad.

Pad Size

The pad itself should be at least 20% than the image that it is printing on. If the height and width of the pad is less than this, the probability of distortion near the edges of the image is more likely.

Pad Shape

The shape of the image itself is one of the most important factors in determining the shape of the pad.  Use the following guidelines when considering your printing pad:

Rooftop shaped pad – for shorter, wider images (and straight text)
Round / cone pads – for flat surfaces with a round image area.
Square or Rectangular shaped pad  – for square/rectangular shapes.
Half Moon pad – recommended for curved surfaces and longer text.

The other vital factor when it comes to the print pad is the contour (or angle) of the print pad. A steep, opposite angle of the print area is ideal, as to allow for clean transfer of ink by displacing air during pickup and transfer. The absence of a steep enough angle causes air to become trapped between the pad and cliché and damages the ink-to-image transfer.

Pad Hardness

The higher the number is, the harder the pad. This is also referred to as “shore”.  It is determined by the amount of silicone oil when creating the pad. More silicone oil makes for a softer pad, while hard print pads are made using less silicone oil.

Hard pads – Produce sharper images (with less distortedness) and generally better coverage,
Soft pads – Produce longer image life due to more ink placement onto the image,

Pad Lifecycle

While it is easy to understand that softer pads last a little longer because of their flexibility, all pads eventually lose their image transfer quality due to silicone oil depletion inside the pad. At this point, surface application of oil is ineffective and drying out of the pad is inevitable.

While air blowers that produce clean and dry air will increase machine efficiency (and help with clean image transfer), it is important to know when your printing pad has reached its expiration.

Remember to keep your pad printing environment between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit (which allows ink solvents to evaporate at a normal rate) and humidity between 50-60%. Maintaining this humidity level is crucial in the proper functioning of the ink and evaporation solvents.

Learn more about print pads by visiting our website at www.epsvt.com. There you can also find more information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial inkjet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment. Email info@epsvt.com or call 1-800-272-7764 if you would like more information.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Choosing A Mixing Cup For Pad Printing

Before the process of pad printing begins, it is important to know what kind of cup you should (and should not) be using to mix your ink. Mixing solvents with ink is a very important part of the pad printing process, as it to enables the ink to transfer and dry quickly. However, solvents are strong chemicals that will melt right through certain materials. If you’re mixing cup is made of such a material, your going to have a problem before you even get started.

What types of cups to avoid

  1. Styrene – weak organic compound that most solvents will melt through.
  2. Polystyrene foam (e.g. Styrofoam) -breaks down when exposed to a solvent.
  3. Wax coated  – wax can mix in with solvent and affect adhesion.
  4. Ring cup itself – doesn’t allow for easy mixing and can result in costly damage to the cup as well.

What types of cups work well

  1. Waxless paper  – cheap, disposable and durable material that won’t be damaged by a solvent.
  2. Polypropylene – strong, thermoplastic polymer that will also stand up to a solvent.

It is also highly recommended that you test the cup if you have any doubts, by allowing some thinner to sit in the cup for about an hour.

Lastly, we do not recommend reusing any cup. It is time consuming to clean and you risk leftover ink and material breakdown, both of which can affect your ink mixture.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Considering Our Custom “Hot Wind” Option For Your Pad Printer?

The essence of the pad printing process is ink management – achieving a complete transfer of the ink (the image) from the Printing Platesto the surface of the part.

Our custom “hot wind” option is a feature that affords your operator(s) much more control over their pad printing (i.e., ink management) process.  Here’s how:

As most of you might know, your ink mixture changes over time.  The solvent will flash off (as it’s designed to do) and your ink mixture will gradually thicken.  As this occurs, you have a few options – you can add thinner as needed, you can program (if your machine will let you) “dwell” or “pause” times to accommodate, or you can direct a controlled air flow over the pad / part.

In order to maintain your production rate, pauses are not the best option.  Stopping to re-mix ink is not always the best solution, either.  Having the option to provide a controlled air flow is convenient and keeps your production rates up.  If your ink is not “tacking off” fast enough for a compete transfer, hot air can help speed things up.

If you are printing a multi-color job, your machine picks up all the colors simultaneously and prints them sequentially.  As a result, the last color printed has been on the pad for several seconds longer than the first color.  Unless your operators mix the colors differently (e.g., different ink-to-thinner ratios) this can lead to incomplete ink transfer from one (or more) of your pads.  Hot air (available for each pad / color) is a great way to adjust each color’s transfer speed, resulting in complete transfers and more efficient (i.e., more profitable) pad printing jobs.

Check out our Pad Printing Machines at www.epsvt.com. There you can also find more information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial inkjet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment. Email info@epsvt.com or call 1-800-272-7764 if you would like more information.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Tools Required To Operate Pad Printing Machines

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In the traditional sense there are very few tools required to operate pad printing machines.  In most cases you will find that a single M4 Allen key will be all that you put to the machine in order to get it setup and functioning.

However there are a few tools outside of formed metal that come in much more handy.  Common sense, diligence and a little elbow grease.  If the former two attributes are employed, from day one, the latter decreases exponentially as do the issues that impose themselves when allowing the process and machine to get a bit messy.

For instance, one of the leading causes of premature wear of Printing Plates is dried ink between the mount surface of the cliché and the cliché support.  Simply wiping both surfaces prior to setup contributes greatly to maximizing the production life of the cliché.  When ink infiltrates the surface between the two mating parts, the inkcup tends to work at what becomes a raised portion of the cliché.  You will find that a divot will develop as the inkcup shaves away, ever so slightly, the material.  The next time the cliché is used, the divot that has developed will catch ink.  If near on in the image area the cliché will be rendered useless.

Tip number one imparted during all training sessions is to keep the process and equipment as clean as is feasible.  Excess ink will seep into places that may seem innocuous at the time but down the road, after the ink has had a chance to dry and cure, it will act as an adhesive and beget many a cuss word as screws are stripped and adjustments made impossible due to parts sticking together.

Cleanliness makes for a happy process!

Want to learn more about pad printing?  Contact our Sales Team:

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Tech Tip Tuesday: How Do You Correct Distortion With Pad Printing?

Distortion means different things to different people.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

We will first speak to pad printing.

If we are to stay with a fairly standard definition of distortion … the printed image is the same size and clarity as the film from which the cliché was made were it overlaid … the most common causes are odd shape, e.g.: cylinder, obstructions in and around the print area, e.g.: raised elements of the product, knockouts, etc., and the product not being perpendicular to the print stroke.

For odd form printing the first line of defense is utilization of a pad that is a bit oversized for the job.  There begin to be issues that are tangential such as compression capability and cliché clearance but we will assume that the machine is capable.  In this case the larger the pad … the less distorted the image starts to become.

Obstructions can be overcome with design of a custom pad to circumvent obstructions coming in contact with the pad.

Part not perpendicular can sometimes be tricky but the easy answer is to adjust tooling for presenting the part so that the image area is as perpendicular as is possible.

In all cases, when it comes to a point where the pad size, tooling corrections, custom pads no longer help artwork distortion (distortion correction) can be used to account for predictable distortions introduced from the above defined issues.