Printing on Metallic Papers

It’s that time of year when a client’s thoughts turn to holiday cards. Inevitably they are drawn to a design featured on a festive paper. Today’s offerings make it easier than ever to give your client a holiday card with the shimmer they’re looking for.

Most metallic papers have a luminous surface that was developed to show through most printing inks, and enrich any design. They tend to achieve this luminescent quality from a mica coating. Keep in mind they are specialty papers and, as such, do differ in some aspects of printing from conventional coated and uncoated papers. Here are some things to note when printing on a metallic/pearlescent uncoated sheet.


Offset: the paper’s lustrous effect is intended to be visible through the printed image, though heavy ink densities may somewhat diminish the effect. Due to the pearlescent coating, they tend to be less absorbent than standard uncoated papers, so general process inks are not compatible with this specialty stock. Drying times will be longer than for standard papers, and this should be factored into the production schedule.

Inks: Most metallic papers are a specialty substrate, and conventional inks are not suitable for printing on this stock. Fully-oxidizing or UV-curing inks are required when offset printing on these sheets. Drying results will be faster for UV inks than for fully-oxidizing inks.

Laser and Ink Jet: With advances in technology, many of these papers are suitable for laser and ink jet printing. As for any paper, pretesting is essential as performance may vary from one printer to another.

Digital: Many of these sheets have been run successfully on various digital presses. As digital print technology changes quite rapidly, and results depend on many variables, it’s always a good idea to do pretesting for all digital applications.


Grain Direction: In all swatch books you will find a paper stock chart that lists all sheet sizes – the grain direction is always last. As for all papers, binding and folding a metallic sheet parallel to the grain direction is always recommended.

Line Screen: In general, line screens ranging from 150-200 are used for printing on these types of papers. It is always advisable to consult with your printer to determine the appropriate line screen for your project.

UCR: For areas of heavy, layered ink coverage, consider the use of UCR (under color removal) in scanning. This will decrease total ink density, and can cut drying times significantly, especially for black.


Varnish & Aqueous Coating: While these papers may be varnished or aqueous coated, please keep in mind that any varnish or coating will likely alter the sheet’s luminous appearance. Varnishing or aqueous coating them after printing can help to protect and seal the printed area, especially for projects where finishing is complex.

Foil Stamping: Like most text and cover grades, these papers foil stamps beautifully.

Scoring & Folding: It’s a good idea that all weights in these papers be scored prior to folding to ensure the best fold. As for all papers, folding with the grain direction is preferred. It’s usually recommended that a rounded channel score with a minimum width of 2.5 times the caliper of the sheetbe used.

Binding: To avoid waviness, binding should always run parallel to the grain direction.

While there are many of these grades now available on the market with a pearlescent finish here are some of the one’s you find available at Millcraft: Classic Linen, Starwhite Flash, Esse Pearlized, Shine, and Stardream. You can request a sample of one these sheets for your next project with our online sample request form.


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