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How to Print White Ink

How can someone print with white ink? You may be wondering what the purpose of white ink is or how it is utilized in the print world. The first step to understanding white ink printing is to have a general understanding of CMYK color printing. 

CMYK is the standard color matrix for household and commercial printers. The colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black are all colors which are translucent, allowing the colors to mix together creating additional hues.

Traditional white ink is opaque, making it possible to print in white without using foils or a silkscreen process. In the past, reverse printing the dark ink around the blank white font would be the only way of achieving white ink on a dark surface. 

The latest creations of white ink are now available in opaque and can even print on dark paper with multiple runs. This article will describe the process and challenges of white ink printing, as well as its benefits. 

What Is White Ink Printing? 

White ink printing is the process of applying white toner to various substrates and colored backgrounds. It is attractive to printers and consumers because the white enhances the existing CMYK colors, adds contrast and visibility, and creates numerous possibilities to develop artistic styles of prints. 

How Does Printing White Ink Work? 

There are multiple ways that a white ink look can be achieved. Neater image outlines can be achieved when used with CMYK colors. White also causes colored images to appear clearer dependent upon the medium used. Printing white ink is done by layered over color prints or mixed with clear and/or fluorescent inks. 

Is White Ink Printing Difficult?

White ink printing is more challenging than printing in color due to the fact that white does not blend the same way that regular colored toner does. White must be layered on darker backgrounds to achieve a true white print and can only be mixed with certain colors of toner, such as fluorescent or clear. 

The added labor intensity creates a higher cost for printers to achieve quality white ink printing. The only personal or at-home printer available is made by HP and uses Epson Ghost White Toner, which is expensive compared to traditional toners.  

Pros & Cons of White Ink Printing

White ink printing has several advantages but there are also disadvantages to white ink printing, as well. Here we will explore the pros and cons of white-ink printing. 


There are several advantages to white ink printing:

  • Create more vibrant colors
  • High contrast and visibility
  • Better color rendering
  • Enables printing on different surfaces
  • Can lower print costs by underlying / overlaying white ink 
  • Create watermarks and layered dimensions


There are also some disadvantages to white ink printing:

  • Higher cost of toner
  • White can only be used as one layer on a dual pass
  • Limited applications
  • Can cause ink mist
  • Care of white ink is more challenging
  • Requires rigorous cleaning
  • Requires darker paper

4 Ways To Achieve White Ink Print 

There are four ways to achieve a white ink print without acquiring a white-ink capable printer. Listed below are the methods you can use to achieve a white ink print. 

Print in Reverse

Printing in reverse is a technique in which the background is printed in color, leaving the primary images blank, so the white paper stands out as the white coloring of the print. In this case, printing in white is actually the absence of any ink in those areas. 

Mix White Ink and Silver

To create a near white ink effect, you can mix silver ink with opaque white ink. This is not always offered at all print shops and can be a higher cost due to the labor of mixing the inks. 

White Foil

Foils come in many textures, colors, and finishes. A white foil stamp can be used with an opaque white gloss or matte finish to create an appearance of paint or white ink on a dark background. This is also typically a more expensive printing process. 

Screen Printing and Flexography White Inks

Screen printing is a process used to apply inks to garments or plastics. Flexography is a form of rotary printing which applies the ink with a rubber plate on a variety of substrates with high resolution. 

The challenge of white inks is that they are highly viscous compared to colored inks due to the fact that white ink requires larger particles than colored inks. The key to quality prints is using the right tools with the right substrate to achieve the best results. 

The Bright Side to White Inks

Although white inks can be an added cost and a challenge to apply, the development of opaque white inks has opened up a whole world of possibilities when it comes to the application of white color on dark backgrounds and the enhancement of colors by layering white inks. 

We hope you are as excited as we are about the endless opportunities to create print media that pops! Contact Print Bind Ship today to learn more about our print services and white ink printing capabilities.


Is There White Ink for Printers?

Yes, white ink for laser printers does exist. White inkjet printers are not yet available.

Can a Regular Printer Print White Ink?

Yes, a regular CMYK laser printer can print white ink by replacing your black cartridge with a white ink cartridge designed for that device. Ghost is the industry leader in white ink replacement cartridges and makes them for HP home printers.

How Do You Print White on Colored Paper?

White is printed on color paper in one of two ways. Either by layering a white opaque ink onto colored paper OR by foil stamping white ink onto the colored paper.