Homemade Pad Printer

Written by philippa jones
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Homemade Pad Printer
Create a simple pad printer at home to personalise gifts. (Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

As Easy Pad Printers outlines, a pad printer is a tool that enables you to print a two-dimensional image on a three-dimensional object. The process is used to create advertising on goods such as mugs or sports equipment. In industry, the pad-printing machine requires specialised materials to operate, such as inks, silicon and printing plates, so making a homemade industrial version is a near-impossible task. However, you can make a simple version of the printing pad at home to personalise objects around the house by using a potato. Potatoes are cheap, easy to carve and disposable, so you can make as many printing pads as you like.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Knife
  • Potatoes
  • Paper towels
  • Mug
  • Coloured paints
  • Shallow tray

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  1. 1

    Choose a simple pattern to print onto your mug or other chosen object to decorate. A star, letters that spell out a name, Chinese symbols or an outline of an animal are just a few ideas.

  2. 2

    Draw the outline of your pattern on paper.

  3. 3

    Cut a potato in half and use a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. This is the base of your homemade pad printer.

  4. 4

    Carve your design into the base of the potato. Refer to your drawing. This is most easily achieved by using the knife to make 5mm incisions to outline your pattern in the potato. Cut away the potato around the outline so that the pattern protrudes from it.

  5. 5

    Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until every pattern that you want to use is cut from potato halves. For the name "Mike," for example, cut each letter into a different potato half; you can also use the same letters for the name "Kim."

  6. 6

    Pour coloured paints into individual shallow trays to prevent the colours from mixing.

  7. 7

    Dip the potato pad printer into the paint. Make sure the surface is evenly covered in paint.

  8. 8

    Press the potato pad onto the surface you want to decorate. If it's a curved surface such as a ball or mug, roll the potato pad across the surface, starting at one edge, to transfer the paint.

  9. 9

    Repeat Steps 7 and 8 to decorate your objects. Leave the objects to dry. Throw out the used potatoes once you've finished the task.

Tips and warnings

  • Experiment with different patterns on your potato. Once you've cut the first design, it becomes easier to cut others so that you can create more complicated designs.
  • Be creative. You can make birthday cards or decorate T-shirts, mugs, plates or bowls and give them to family and friends as gifts.
  • Buy the right paint for the job. Use fabric paint for T-shirts so that they can be washed. Use ceramic paint for plates and bowls so that the paint sticks to the surface and won't wash off.

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