The Importance of Using Correct Industry Terminology

Mark Klage - Trodat USA Regional Sales Manager


“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” - Mark Twain

There is no truer statement when trying to troubleshoot a problem and both parties are using industry terminology incorrectly to describe the issue. Unfortunately, this happens more often than it should and has consequences that delay solving the problem or even worse, causing more problems.

The best way to prevent this is for all of us to be familiar with our industry’s terminology and its proper use. Here we have collected some of the more commonly misused terms and explained their proper meaning/use.

Commonly Misused Flash Terminology

Cartridge v. Foam – One of the most commonly terminology mistakes is for people to use the term “cartridge” when referring to the foam and vice versa. The cartridge is the hard, white porous material with a system of channels for inking. The foam is the flat, gray spongy material that is flashed and produces the impression.


Ink Migration - This refers to the flow of ink throughout the flash foam, culminating in the ink reaching the face and then imprinting. If the impression is light, it's common to hear the claim that the ink won’t migrate when in fact the true problem is the production issue of over-flashing. Over flashing is the result of energy penetrating the toner on the vellum and partially sealing the image. The ink is there but is restricted from the face of the foam.

Commonly Misused Seals Terminology

Wafer - This is an adhesive piece that holds the counter or delrin dies. Many times we have heard the delrin be called wafer.

Laser v. Rotary Die Holder - It is important for the troubleshooter to know exactly which holder you are using. By simply saying “die holder” we will not be able to accurately diagnose the problem. A laser die holder has 2 flat surfaces that hold the die and counter. A rotary die holder, on the other hand, has a “cup” on one side that holds the engraved metal die in place. On some seal models, like the Trodat Ideal Seal, a spacer is used inside the cup to accommodate a Delrin die. Although from the outside it may appear to be a rotary die holder it is in fact a laser one.

Commonly Misused Polymer Terminology

Floor (Back Exposure) - This is a very misunderstood term. The floor is the solid part of the polymer plate measuring from the bottom of the plate to the base of the characters. The floor is created when the back of the polymer is exposed. The longer the exposure, the thicker the floor.

Relief (Front Exposure) - This is the part of the polymer plate that goes from the top of the floor to the top of the characters. The relief is created by exposing the polymer through the negative (front). The longer the exposure the wider the characters.

Commonly Misused Laser Terminology

Power v. PPI (DPI) - Power is the actual strength of the laser beam as it hits the substrate. PPI (Pixels Per Inch) and DPI (Dots Per Inch) refer to the tightness of the beam. Raising the PPI results in a tighter beam, but not a stronger one.

Focus v. PPI (DPI) – Focus refers the width of the beam. The beam will always come out at the set PPI (DPI) resolution, but if the beam is not focused properly it can result in a poor image. This is why increasing the PPI (DPI) will not solve the issue in this instance, because the beam itself is out of focus and must be refocused in order to achieve the desired engraving clarity.

When communicating with someone, especially over the phone as is more and more common in today’s current climate, it is imperative that the correct terminology is being used so that both parties are on the same page. It’s doubly so when trying to troubleshoot a problem so that the appropriate fix can be discussed and additional problems aren’t created. If you’re ever unsure of what terminology to use, never hesitate to ask your Trodat sales representative. It will make life easier and more productive for everyone!


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