Can I print metallic ink on uncoated stock?

Answered by Suzanne Morgan

My designer and I are having a disagreement about whether or not to print a metallic ink on uncoated stock. She says it will be fine, but I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t print metallics on uncoated paper. Who is right?

Metallic inks are meant to be printed on coated papers. Metallic inks actually have bits of metal in the ink. The more the ink “sits up” on the substrate, the more light will be reflected off – giving that shiny look. The coating in coated papers allows for better ink hold-out.

Having said that, if you are going for a specific design effect – and are quite sure of what you’ll get once the job is printed – then it could be perfectly acceptable. But the ink will look totally different on uncoated paper than coated. It won’t have near the reflection.

If you intend to proceed with printing on the uncoated paper, here are a few tips:

  1. The more porous the paper, the less brilliance of the metallic ink. Unless you are purposely going for this effect, toothy papers, such as felts, should definitely be avoided.

  2. Avoid using metallic in areas of heavy coverage.

  3. Avoid using metallic ink on fine type or rules.

  4. Always request an ink draw down or roll out on the substrate you will be using. (See our Ink Resources article located in the Technical Corner.)

  5. If your printed piece is a companion piece with another that must match that metallic, be sure to use the same substrate on both.

  6. You will not be able to match a printed piece with metallic ink on a coated stock to a printed piece on uncoated stock. Period.

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