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Can You Really Print With White Ink?

Printing with white ink is commonly questioned by designers and ad agencies when touring our printing facility. For many commercial printers, printing with white ink is limited to offset printing utilizing spot or Pantone® (PMS) colors.  As a result, it typically takes a fairly substantial production run in order to overcome the initial cost of set-up.

Not anymore, in order to provide an easier and more cost-effective solution for variable data printing and shorter runs, Cedar Graphics has upgraded our HP Indigo digital presses to print with white as well as transparent inks.

White ink printing is possible for even short runs without expensive set up and long turn times.

Using any of our HP Indigo digital presses to print with white ink, there is no need for additional printing plates, make-ready,  or equipment wash-ups. We can even control the opacity of the white ink  thus preventing problems on dark or metallic substrates. Multiple hits or passes are sometimes necessary in order to get best results. HP Indigo presses print to a flat sheet. The HP Indigo 10000 uses a 29" sheet and our 7900's use a 13 x 19" sheet. Mailers, pocket folders, and brochures are then finished in-house. We do not print directly to pre-converted materials like envelopes or labels. Instead we would print to a large label sheet and cut down  to size or die cut. 

Most Popular Applications for White Ink

White ink is most commonly applied as a base layer on colored, metallic, or clear stocks. In these applications, white ink is printed first followed by cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks on top. In these instances,  the white ink is used to overcome the color of the paper or other substrate providing a white background or base. On clear substrates, white is necessary to prevent light from passing through and washing out and affecting other colors. 

White ink is also increasingly popular among graphic designers for a wide variety of unique applications. As paper manufacturers continue to expand their product offerings to include a wide variety of colors and materials, white ink is becoming an increasing necessity. Cedar Graphics has seen a huge variety of white ink applications including invitations, posters, metallic stickers, window clings, post cards and more. 

White Ink & Watermark

To the left is an example of different amounts of hits of White Ink on colored substrates. From top to bottom: 1 hit, 2 hits, 4 hits and 6 hits. On the right is an example of White Ink watermark on a black substrate, again with different amounts of hits. From top to bottom: 1 hit, 2 hits and 3 hits.


White Ink Hits on different color substrates Watermark effect using White Ink on a dark substrate

How to Design for White Ink Printing - Illustrator

How to Design for White Ink Printing - Photoshop

Photoshop users please note: Cedar Graphics is currently utilizing the most current software for our HP Indigo Presses (More current than this video). Please make that you name the Spot or Swatch White (case sensitive)

CG Prepress Department

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