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Earlier this week with a customer I exchanged some mails on UV offset printing in general and then eventually this lead to a treatise on the characteristics of offset inks. I’d say this is a good occasion to write a post on the transparency of offset inks.

First of all, offset colors are generally slightly transparent. Even an “opaque white” isn’t opaque at 100%.
Normally, on white substrates, apart from the fact that thus offset colors are more brilliant than colors in digital printing, the transparency has no further effect. On transparent materials, however, the transparency of the inks evokes a special impact and requires extra attention.

Due to the transparency of the inks, in many cases it is necessary to add a white layer on the back of some graphic elements to render the colors more opaque. With such a white layer the impact of the design doesn’t depend so much on the incidence of light and the background, and in addition the colors appear more vibrant.
Adding a white layer behind white elements isn’t possible and thus white itself has to remain slightly transparent. To achieve an absolutely opaque white in offset printing is only possible by means of several (3-4) layers of color. This actually is a very elaborate and thus expensive procedure and therefore makes only sense with large orders.
One example for such a special order is the Dorint-Flyer:

Transparent Flyer-Dorint4

This flyer has been printed with five layers on crystal clear PVC: print for the front of the flyer, three layers of white in between, print for the back. The background of the design for the back side is golden, and even if metallic inks are the most opaque of all offset inks, with backlight you can still see the print from the other side shine through a bit.

The best impression of the transparency of offset inks surely conveys the following picture. The card has been printed with white at 100%.

Transparent business card Grafanna
In many cases in which the design plays with transparency, in which gentle gradients or maybe a transparent coloring of the whole business card is desired, the transparency of the inks is an advantage.

red transparent business card of kreando

In all other cases we’re happy to assist you with an advice based on our long experience with these transparent materials. If you wish, we can also provide you with special samples which illustrate different grades of transparency, with and without a white layer.

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