Black Paper & Artistic Dreams

First, I want to thank all of you who read my blog about the challenges of offset printing on black paper. I especially want to than those who have responded with additional  suggestions and recommendations.  Whenever there is a challenge you can expect the cleaver production people in the printing universe to find a way over, through, or around the problem. Kudos to you.

Mr. Carlo Toscano of Global Printing in California pointed out that the digital printing industry has solved the problem by laying down a base of white and then printing on top of it. I have not personally seen this done digitally, so I’ll have to take his word for it. My concern is founded on what I have experienced, and that is that opaque white inks aren’t opaque enough. The black paper is tamed some, but still allows the paper color to influence the image and makes it gray. Digital is so new on the scene and uses different technologies than offset printing, that they probably have found a way to make it work better. I’d like to see samples if anyone has them.

The downside? Digital printing is most cost effective in very small runs. They generally top out at 500 – 1,000 imprints. If you need a larger quantity digital may not be for you.

Mr. Harvey Halperin (no company name) wrote, “Lay down a double hit of opaque white then dry trap process colors onto it. This will require two print runs, to allow the opaque white time to dry. We often do this with foils, or foil stamp and print on the foils there are a few new press that do this in line.”

Mr. Halperin is quite correct. A dry trap is a technique used by printers wherein they lay down a color and allow it to dry thoroughly before printing on top of it. A single pass of opaque white, as I said before, hasn’t proven to my satisfaction to be sufficient. A double bump, or a double hit, would certainly form a better base. If the white ink is allowed to dry, you avoid the problems associated with co-mingling wet inks. Contaminated inks will turn your normal process colors to pastels, but maybe pastel is what you are trying to achieve.

The downside? Every pass through the press requires additional make-readies, and plates. This technique will give you a good result, but you’ll pay for it. His other suggestion of printing on top of a white foil stamp will also work, but again you have additional costs that come into play. The double-bump, dry-trap technique probably work out to be the most cost effective way to achieve it.

There was also a suggestion to screen print the sheet. Silk screen inks are more like paint than they are offset inks. Because by nature they are more opaque, you may not have to lay down a base of white at all. It is a suggestion worth considering depending on the quantity you want to print and how the printed piece is to be used.

My point? With very few exceptions, the mid-night brainstorms graphic designers have, are by-and-large achieveable. If the budget is sufficient,  we can find a way to make their artistic dreams come true.

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