What Is Metallic Ink?


Metallic ink features real metal flakes to produce a glossy finish on paper. Although the choices used to be limited to gold and silver, metallic ink now comes in many other colors and shades. This special ink is significantly more expensive than regular ink, however, and takes longer to dry. In addition to the greater cost of the ink itself, printing presses also tend to charge more for a job featuring metallic ink.


  • Metallic ink contains real metal flakes; aluminum flakes, for example, are often used for a silver finish. The metal flakes are of very small size, and not really visible with the naked eye. Copper and zinc are added to the aluminum to create the various yellow to red shades of gold. Around a dozen metallic ink colors are available.


  • The effect of using metal in the ink is superior reflection of light and the creation of a "metal on paper" effect. This should not be confused with foil stamping, where, instead of ink, the printing press will deposit a thin layer of aluminum foil on the paper. Foil stamping will look very similar to the shiny cigarette paper, whereas metallic inks produce a more subtle effect.


  • Metallic ink is more expensive to print with due to two reasons. First, the ink will cost more than the conventional variety. Silver inks are around 25 percent more expensive than standard colored inks, while gold can cost twice as much as regular ink. In addition, the printing press must handle metallic inks carefully, as they take longer to dry and present a greater risk of bleeding and runoff, and will therefore charge more for labor.

Coated Sheets

  • Metallic ink is usually printed on coated sheets of paper to obtain the proper effect. Printing with metallic ink on an uncoated sheet of paper will result in the absorption of metal particles by the paper, which will reduce the luster and shine of the finished product. It is therefore recommended to do a test run and see what the final print will look like if you must use metallic ink on uncoated paper.


  • In addition to foil stamping, a patented procedure called Metal FX provides another alternative to metallic ink. Metal FX is easier to work with and more economical. In addition, Metal FX gives the printer the ability to create a whole gamut of metallic colors. Unlike metallic ink, which does not accept a second layer of paint on top, Metal FX will accommodate additional layers of ink, thus making it possible to vary colors and shades to a much larger extent than is possible when using metallic ink.

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  • Photo Credit ink image by Sergey Shlyaev from Fotolia.com
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