Pad printing opens up new possibilities which were not available with traditional printing processes, or which could be exploited only with great effort. To some extent, pad printing also replaces other decorating processes, such as screen printing, labeling and hot stamping. The form used for pad printing is a plate of etched steel or washed out photopolymer. As with intaglio, the image printing elements are contained (etched) in the non-printing surface. During a printing operation, the plate is covered with ink, the excess is doctored from the surface of the plate, and the ink for the print remains in the depressions. A soft, elastic pad then transfers the ink from the depressions onto the substrate. The areas of application are so extensive that dozens of pad printed articles are encountered every day in the form of commercial items, such as lighters, ball pens and toys, as well as housings, switches, keys, knobs and buttons in the automotive and electronics industries.