There is a lot of talk in the industry right now about printing metallics, or producing output with a foil effect, and why not, because the end result can give your customers that little bit extra and make their documents really shine. 


After all, a little sparkle never did any harm, did it?


The methods of producing metallics are varied and the results can range from a simple foil effect to a full swatch of bright shiny colours. Let’s take a look at some production methods. 


Offline using a Vivid Laminator/Foiler

Easy to use and relying on the placement of black toner where you want foil, this method works with most current digital devices.


The process is simple:
1. Print your full colour image onto your chosen substrate using your digital device.
2. Laminate over the top of your colour image, sealing in the colour.
3. Pass the output back through your digital device (if it will print onto laminated output) to lay down a black image of what you want to see as foil. It is important to use ‘black’ only and not ‘process black’ as the chemicals in the black toner are the reacting agent for the foil.
4. Pass your output back through the Vivid Laminator selecting the foil colour of your choice. The foil will stick to the black toner and the end result will be a full colour print with a metallic foil overlay.
N.B. You can substitute the foil with ‘clear’ foil for a spot UV effect.

Using a Caslon foiler
A very similar result can be achieved using a Caslon foiler, although this is on a much smaller scale. The Caslon fits well with OKI printers and is an ideal alternative where budget and space are an issue.

The process is very similar to the above in that the foil sticks to the output where black toner is evident.



Color Logic Software for Ricoh and Xerox digital print engines

Now we are getting serious. The previous two methods are based on a roll of foil which limits the end product to one colour. At the time of writing this I believe there are plans to extend the colour range, but right now, one colour is the best you can get. Unless, you opt for something a little more creative. Color Logic software is just that.


You already know what the colour gamut is with your digital device and most operators can stretch that gamut quite well, but imagine being able to print every colour and every shade with a bright shiny metallic effect. However, the process varies between manufacturers.


Printing metallics on a Xerox
A CXP 800 or 1000 with a fifth colour station is required. You do not need special stocks as the metallic toner provides the ‘base’ colour. Using silver toner, print an outline of the image that is to be metallic onto your substrate. Pass the silver effect sheet back through the printer, this time printing your CMYK image. The result will be that CMYK on top of silver will give a metallic hue.


Printing metallics on a Ricoh - see main picture above

The ProC7100 fifth colour station can print neon yellow, rose pink, clear or white as the fifth colour. For metallic images you will need white and any metallic stock from the Kernow coatings range.

The process requires you to lay down a white ‘mask’ onto your metallic substrate, ensuring that you allow the metallic base colour to be visible where you want a metallic finish. The next stage is to pass your metallic/white sheet through your printer adding CMYK where needed.
On the areas where CMYK is laid down, your output will show as CMYK only. On the areas where the metallic base colour is not covered in white, your CMYK will appear as a metallic version of the same.


Since this process uses coloured base stocks and white ink, the final application can have a varied finish that takes the best from all aspects:


CMYK (where white is laid down first)

Metallic CMYK (where no white was laid down and CMYK is printed onto the base substrate)

Metallic base colour (where no white or CMYK is printed and the base colour is visible)

White (where white is printed onto the base colour and no CMYK is added)


However, you don’t always need to overprint CMYK for sensational results. One of the simplest and most effective images I have seen is that of a white spitfire on gold background. It looks very expensive and can command a high price, yet the cost of production is very low.


There are limitations to all of these methods and the end result can be as different as the manufacturers and their processes.


Perhaps the most important point is that you find the most cost effective solution for your business.


If you would like to view some printed samples or to see the processes above in action, feel free to drop me an email via the quote box at the side of the page.