How Can I Print the Color White?

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In most cases, your commercial print shop can't print white ink on dark paper successfully. If you are looking for the effect of white ink on dark paper, you have options, but white ink usually isn't one of them. Most inks used in offset printing are translucent, and a translucent white ink cannot cover a dark color paper.

Even if your print shop prints with an opaque white ink, multiple applications are necessary for sufficient coverage, which bumps up the cost of a print project astronomically.

Adding even more to the price is the considerable time on the part of the print shop staff spent cleaning the printing press to remove all traces of other ink colors that would muddy the white ink.

However, there are acceptable alternatives to offset printing white ink.

Print the Dark Color

Approach the project from a different angle. Print the dark color on white paper stock to give the effect of white ink on a dark color. If your design includes white elements—for example, a white heart on a red background—only the red is printed and the white heart is the paper showing through. This gives you a lot of options as to the background and is much less expensive to print.

Mix White Ink and Silver

A near-white ink effect that provides adequate coverage can be achieved by mixing silver ink with opaque white ink. Not all print shops provide this service, and the cost is higher than regular printing.

Use White Foil

Using white foil stamping to get the white color you want. Foils come in many colors and textures including metallic, gloss and matte finishes. An opaque white gloss or matte finish mimics the look of paint or white ink, or you can achieve special effects with pearlescent, off-white, and silvery foils.

Talk to your print shop about the foil process and any special requirements in preparing your artwork for foil stamping or embossing.

Try Screen Printing and Flexography White Inks

Screen printing and flexography, methods often used to print on garments and plastics, use opaque white inks. Explore those printing options for your project when you need to print white ink. Screen printing has applications other than just textile printing.

White Ink From the Desktop

At this time, only Epson sells a white print cartridge for use with its inkjet printers. This option might work for small print runs on your home printer, but the cost of the white ink is much higher than typical inks.