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What is metallic print

23 July 2019

When printing marketing materials, or brochures, posters and catalogues for your business, it can be difficult to make yours stand out from the rest – lots of your competitors may also have good quality printed materials. Sometimes you want to look for something a bit more spectacular than the usual black and white, or even the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) colours used in standard printing.

If you want to make a big impression, and add the “WOW” factor, with your next print project, then you should consider the use of metallic print finishing. This option creates a strong visual impact and draws the eye directly to your project.

Metallic ink replication

What, exactly, is metallic ink replication? It is a process of using a specially prepared high-end digital printer to print ink-based, digital CMYK images onto paper that has a coating on it to make it appear as metallic silver – this is known metallic board card stock.

How metallic ink replication works

Areas that would, under normal print conditions, be seen as white paper, take on the effect of a silver foil – this, in turn, can be made to appear as a gold foil simply by applying different shades of yellow. Any CMYK print colours can be transformed into these metallic print foil colours. A good designer can create non-metallic areas of print by application of a white ink layer – and even use different opacity gradients to create transitions between the different hues of standard and metallic. This treatment can produce dramatically different appearances on the material when coating printed foil board with different cello glazes.

When too use metallic print

As a more affordable option to traditional foiling, it is also far more effective and flexible in allowing CMYK designs to be made to appear metallic. The technique is, therefore, applicable for designers to use in low to medium quantities.

In using a foil board as a base, everything can appear metallic regardless of colour – this makes it more versatile than the more-often used spot colour metallic ink printing, where only a single colour is printed onto a plain white background.

  • If you want to add just one or two colours of foil in large quantities, then traditional foiling is a good alternative
  • It makes economic sense to use digital foiling for smaller runs
  • Spot colour metallic printing is a good option for medium to high volume runs that only need to incorporate one or two non-CMYK colours

Overall, metallic print finishing has the advantage of working in any quantity and allows either metallic or standard (with white ink) finishes without large setup costs across the full CMYK colour range.

Metallic printing at Instaprint

Instaprint has completed the installation of Iridesse production press which introduces new capabilities to produce an array of special UV printing effects.

Our expanding print services now includes a high level of design flexibility using amazing colours and metallic print that can be applied to specific areas or an entire sheet. Gold and silver dry inks can be layered with CMYK colours to create vibrant effects, metallic gradients, photographic enhancements and more.

Read our metallic digital printing guide for information on the capabilities and artwork set up.

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