White ink: Unlocking colorful possibilities

One technique our HP Indigo digital printer allows for is printing with white ink. That might sound like no big deal—but it’s actually a fairly new development in the print world.

To understand why, we have to take a step backward. In the past, all print inks (except metallics) were transparent. This wasn’t a problem if you were printing on white or light-colored paper. But if you wanted to print on black paper or another dark substrate, you could be in trouble. Inks often appeared faded and hard to read.

But for the first time, HP has figured out a way to lay down opaque white ink. It may require multiple “hits” of color, but produces brighter whites than any printer currently available.

This overcomes two hurdles that print shops once faced: it allows them to print brilliant whites on dark-colored substrates. It also allows them to print all other colors on dark substrates. To do this, we start by laying down white ink on the dark-colored page. We then lay the colored ink above the white.

This allows printed elements to pop, even if the substrate is dark or the paper and ink are similar in color. For example, we can print red ink on red paper, brown ink on brown paper, and so on. This technique is a big breakthrough for printing photos on unusual paper types. We can even use white ink to create a shading effect by varying the number of hits of ink we lay down in different parts of an image.

Opaque white ink opens doors for substrates beyond paper, too. For example, it allows us to create window clings with opaque images. We can also print on other clear substrates, vinyls, and more.

Tips for printing with white

In design files, white ink is treated as a spot color. Keep our white ink design guidelines in mind when setting up files that will require white ink. And of course, if you have any questions, just ask. We’ll review your files with you and make sure all specifications are correct.

Enter our white ink design contest

Inspired by white ink? We are too. We’re looking for the most unique design that can be produced on the HP Indigo featuring white ink. That’s why we’re hosting the “Make it White” Design Contest. The winner gets $500 in free printing and an HP Digital Printer.

The deadline for entries is August 10. So what are you waiting for? Read the entry guidelines and send us your best designs!

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