There’s a lot of talk about ‘fifth’ colours right now… why? Digital Print engines are catching up, though some would say they are already ahead.Short run jobs are the bread and butter of the digital print service provider, albeit with limited potential for that bit extra, due to gamut limitations of CMYK.


Now, we have the possibility of CMYK + 1, or maybe more.


As with most ‘new’ things, understanding what you can use this for, or even the available colours, can be difficult to establish.


Maybe we should start with a list of the colours available right now:


Clear (It’s not UV!)
Neon Yellow
Neon Pink


There are others, such as fluorescent inks which can be used to provide security elements in place of MICR, but these really are best left with the specialists.

That said, at the recent Print Show we showed the new Rose Pink (Neon Pink) 5th colour on the Ricoh ProC7100. It allows print service providers to produce eye-catching results that inspire highly engaging and effective campaigns. It expands the colour gamut, enhances images and can be used as a solid or highlight or graphic colour.


When combined with other process shades, it can create a neon palette. The toner is reflective under UV light to extend the range of printing possibilities offered by standard CMYK, white, or clear printing. The Neon Pink toner will be available from November. It is retro-fittable, which means existing customers can expand the capabilities of the Ricoh Pro C7100X presses they operate today.


The most surprising output was that it is possible to print Orange that glows in the dark! While we’re not sure at this stage which Pantone colour it is nearest to, though we think we can tweak/adjust to get something close to the special ones.


I’m sure you will agree that the choice is pretty good and in the cases of Orange, Green and Blue, will allow PSPs to reach a more complete gamut of ‘simple colour work’ by getting to those very difficult brand colours. You all know which I mean.



But what about the others?


Since the launch of ‘clear’ toner by a number of manufacturers, I have heard the term ‘UV’ printing or ‘Spot UV’ many times. To be very clear, (pardon the pun), it is NOT UV.


Clear toner can be used to create a varnished look and when a multiple pass process is used, it can also give a slightly three-dimensional effect, but it is NOT UV. Yes, we have customers using the clear toner to highlight a specific colour, logo or area of text and this works beautifully, but it is NOT UV. Background ‘water-marks’ in clear toner also add an aspect of security to an image, in so far that copying that image with a standard CMYK printer will not show the clear area. If you are producing vouchers, tickets or bespoke packaging, they can’t simply be copied. (Think water-mark in a ten pound note).


Silver and gold have their own specific charm and if you have not seen samples of these then I urge you to take a look. The output can be stunning, with images leaping off the page, however, there is a potential limitation to the practicality of these fifth colours with the launch of software that provides a wider range of metallics. One very important point to remember about silver and gold as currently available is that they both print directly onto your current substrates. This can be a very important price consideration.


And finally, white, white, and white… have you noticed that everyone is talking about white? Why? Is it a pre-Christmas excitement thing? Is it association with Bing Crosby and the good old days.. Or is it that white opens up so many possibilities for digital?


The simplest use of white is just printing white text or images onto coloured or metallic stocks and the finished result is as wide-ranging as the manufacturer offerings.


Each claim to have the best white with maximum opacity, but as the saying goes, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. The reality is that all the white examples I have seen, are very much ‘fit for purpose’, depending on what your purpose is. A good white base coat makes it possible for print engines to create metallic hues of their whole digital gamut, which makes white more of a tool than a finish.


Maybe that is how to view your fifth colour thinking. The colour itself is not as important as what you do with it.