The image carrier for pad printing is the printing plate. There are many different plate materials used for pad printing dependent on machine, application, and artwork. The artwork is etched into the plate material either by a photopolymer process or computer to plate laser plate making process.
The more cost effective of the two, photopolymer plate making, is the more time consuming. Taking upwards of 30 minutes this process uses photosensitive plate material and a UV exposure unit. On the other hand, in only 5 to 7 minutes one can etch a plate with a Co2 or fiber laser, with extreme precision and ease.