How to print white text

We can all agree that white text printed on coloured card looks pretty cool but how exactly do you print white text?

The first thing you should note is that a 'normal' printer can't print the colour white. When I say 'normal' I mean printers such as home desktop printers, regular office print and copy machines and every day commercial printers.

But why?

Without getting too technical, the colour white is an ink which most print houses don't use by default. There is a fair amount of time, cost and maintenance required to upkeep white ink printers. Most printers will use the CMYK inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) which mix to create all the other colours. As white is achromatic (having no hue) it can't be created or mixed by other inks. Therefore, to print white onto something, it will require a specially created white ink.

Where do I go to get white ink?

As far as I am aware, white ink for personal use is not available for purchase. Companies don't make white ink for general home printers, so it is very difficult to find. Epson has a range of white ink for their large format printers but not for the small printers.

If you require white ink printing, it's best to find a print house who can print white. Specialty print places such as Peterkin in Perth and Papermarc in Melbourne provide the service of printing with white ink.

White ink alternative

Instead of printing with white ink, you can 'reverse' the format and print on white paper and use colour for the background. For example, if your design has a coloured background, then it will print everything that's coloured but ignore the white items. The white of the paper will then show through as 'white'. However, bear in mind this technique won't work on coloured paper as the colour that will show through will be whatever the colour of the paper is.

This invitation set was in fact printed on white paper and no white ink was used. The background was designed with colour, so only the background was printed and the text and graphic elements stayed white.

How much does white ink printing cost?

As white ink is considered a specialty technique that requires a considerable amount of time and labour to setup, the cost of white ink printing can be dramatically more than printing regular colours.

The upside of white ink printing is that you can print on virtually any coloured paper/card and it will always look crisp and amazing. There's also something luxe about printing with white ink.

Some places that print white ink - a simple Google search will give you a list of places :)

Written by The Hello Bureau's creative director, Cassandra Chew. For more information please use the contact form to send your enquiry.

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