The Magic of Digital Metallic Inks

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So I’m going through the new promotion from Domtar, Mark Your Mark, when I saw something that stopped me mid flip. While the piece itself is about identifying different market segments, what really caught my attention was the design for the restaurant segment. This particular sample set contained a menu, coaster, order pad and business card. I immediately noticed its elegant simplicity – black and white illustration with a pop of gold ink. I flipped to the production notes and read two words that stopped me in my tracks. Digital Gold. Wait, what? Yes, gold digital metallic ink. Now my print peeps are going to tell me this technology has been available for a while. And yes, gold digital metallic inks have been available for a few years. But the print results I saw in this piece looked so much better than anything I had ever seen done before. What I saw was true digital metallic inks – gold flecks and all.

Behold the Magic of Digital Metallic Inks

In an effort to give the design community an option to achieve the type of metallic effects only seen with offset, digital printers got creative with papers. The standard solution was to use CMYK on metallic papers in lieu of true metallic inks. While it adds sparkle, it’s nowhere near the results of the real deal. Fret not designers, the market is starting to catch up to your demand of high quality digital print results. We saw it first with dimensional coatings and opaque white ink offerings for digital production. Now there are options for digital metallic inks.

Kodak was the first to introduce a metallic “ink” offering for its NexPress a couple years back. Like many early technologies, it has some limitations when compared to newer offerings on the market. One, it only offers gold – no other metallic colors. And when it comes to papers, its effects look best when used with coated white papers, gloss coated in particular. It loses its metallic lustre when used with colored papers. To me it’s more of a gold look than metallic gold ink, but an impressive start to game changing technology.

Because I Have a Thing For Silver Metallic Ink

Then just last year, Xerox announced an expansion to its clear dry ink, with the launch of Specialty Metallic Dry Ink for the Xerox Color 800i/1000i Presses. For the first time, there was the technology available that allowed designers to print digitally. And with true Pantone® metallic gold or silver inks! This was the same digital technology used in the Domtar promotion I mentioned earlier – and OMG does it look AWESOME!

After seeing these results, I contacted the folks at Xerox to learn more. I had lovely chat with Mary Roddy, Worldwide Product Marketing Manager for High Entry Production Color Graphic Communications Business Group at Xerox. Mary was kind enough to walk me through the process. It’s the fifth station on the press where the printer can swap out gold, silver or clear ink canisters.

Yes Designers, Beautiful Results with Digital Metallic Inks Are Possible

The print results are seriously amazing. I was hard pressed to tell that the samples I saw were not printed offset. I think it has to do with the fact that these are true gold/silver metallic inks – not digital simulations. They actually contain gold/silver flecks, which is super important to something known as “flop,” the reflective rate of the metallic effect. And unlike digital white opaque ink, which requires multiple clicks to look “white,” the Xerox digital dry ink metallics only require ONE click.

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Mary was nice enough to send me a bunch of samples and I have to say that the metallics look so good on every paper stock I saw – coated/uncoated, gloss/matte, and white/colored stocks. But seriously my fave is the silver on royal blue. Wait, now that I’m looking at them again maybe it’s the gold on red. No it’s the silver on black. Does it really matter? Guess I’ll just have to try them all.

Wait – did I mention that this press can run on a range of thicknesses? Everything up to 350 gsm (grams per square meter), that’s around 130# Cover. Hello heavy weight business cards – oh Xerox, you had me at PMS 877 silver metallic ink.

Digital Metallic Inks Available  a Market Near You

The really great news is that there are digital options available for printing metallic inks. And while this technology is new-ish, its availability across the country is growing. If you need help finding a printer in your market that has this capability, shoot us an email – we’ll be happy to help you connect to one in your market or close to it. Oh and if you’re interested in seeing for yourself just what digital metallic inks look like on some pretty fab papers, you definitely want to check out The Parcel. It’s like show-and-tell for production design.

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2 Comments

  1. Maddie Lane On May 15, 2017 at 3:05 pm Reply

    Hello! I work at a small graphic design firm and we are looking for a printer that has the capabilities of printing in digital, metallic ink. Do you have any contacts?

    Thank you!

    • Jill DiNicolantonio On May 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm Reply

      We have a few, what market are you located in/close to?

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