Bring Luxury to Your Print Products with Metallic Ink

Bring Luxury to Your Print Products with Metallic Ink

Are you looking for a way to accentuate a special print project? Printing with metallic inks can bring a vibrancy and luster that can’t be achieved with regular CMYK printing. Metallic inks create a strong visual statement and can highlight an important part of the project.

What Is a Metallic Ink?

A metallic ink is a specialty ink that has reflective metal particles such as copper, bronze, zinc or aluminum suspended within it. When the ink dries, the metal particles “leaf” together to reflect light and create a metallic sheen. Silver and gold are most common, but metallic inks also come in blue, green, purple, copper, red… the list goes on.

Metallic inks add color and shine beyond what regular inks can produce, but are less shiny and reflective than the more complicated and expensive foil stamping. (Foil stamping is a heat-applied foil directly onto the project.)

How Would I Use a Metallic Ink?

Metallic ink is is an attention-grabber that works well for many projects. Some ideas include:

  • Packaging - make your products stand out on the shelf
  • Direct mail - highlight important points on postcards, brochures, and flyers
  • Invitations or stationery (unless using a copier) - add elegance and charm
  • Business cards - accentuate your logo with a flash of metallic ink
  • Annual reports - elevate your most important printed piece of the year

Considerations When Planning Projects With Metallic Ink

Paper Stock

If you are looking to maximize your shine, print on a coated stock. The glossier your stock, the better! Coated stocks absorb less ink, so it will sit on top of the stock and “leaf” together better. Smooth, glossy stock produces high shine and metallic luster.

Press Capabilities

Metallic inks are created by adding metallic particles to ink that reflect the light. No CMYK build can create these added particles, so metallic inks must be pre-mixed. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) provides these pre-mixed inks, and must be printed on a traditional offset press (and not on the digital presses).


Because metallic inks are composed of metal flakes, finishes like aqueous coating or varnish can diminish the shine. It’s best to skip these for your metallic jobs.

Copying is a No

Metallic inks cannot be used on stationery or any other item that will be run through a high-speed copier. The metallic flakes that are used can peel off the sheet due to the heat and pressure and stick to the inside of the machine, leading to costly replacement parts. When it comes to laser printers, check with your printer’s tech department before planning a letterhead with metallic inks.