How to Print White Ink: A Comprehensive Guide

Wondering how to print white ink? You may also be unsure about the purpose of white ink 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 translucent, allowing them to mix together to create 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.

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What Is White Ink Printing?

White ink printing is a technique that allows for the use of white ink on various surfaces, including colored or dark materials. Unlike traditional printing methods, where white is achieved by not printing any color, white ink printing utilizes specially formulated white ink to create a vibrant and opaque white color.

One of the key benefits of white ink printing is its ability to bring out details and make designs pop on darker or colored substrates. It enables the use of vibrant colors and adds depth to the artwork, bringing a unique and stunning effect to the printed materials. This technique is particularly useful for printing on materials such as vinyl, acrylic, metal, or even unconventional surfaces like glass or wood.

White ink printing opens up a world of creative possibilities for designers and marketers. It allows for the printing of intricate and complex designs that may not have been possible with conventional printing methods. Additionally, the use of white ink can create a luxurious or high-end look, adding an extra touch of sophistication to products or marketing materials.

Whether you’re looking to create eye-catching signage, unique promotional items, or personalized products, white ink printing can offer a versatile and visually appealing option.

Can Printers Print White?

Standard laser and inkjet printers fundamentally lack the ability to print with white ink. These printers produce colors by combining cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks, but cannot generate a true opaque white ink since white is the absence of hue rather than color itself. That said, you may be able to find some options by browsing HP printers.

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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 depending on 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 because 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 and Cons of White Ink Printing

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


There are several advantages to white ink printing, such as:

  • 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, including:

  • 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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 that 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 because 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 of White Ink

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.

If you’re looking for an additional hand when it comes to your printing project, know that you can rely on the professional printing services offered by Print Bind Ship. We’ve helped organizations of all sizes, including businesses and private individuals with professional printing services and white ink printing.

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Is there white ink for printers?

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

On what surfaces can white ink printing be done?

White ink printing is primarily used on non-white or colored surfaces where standard CMYK inks would not show up well. Common applications include printing designs onto colored fabrics/apparel, colored papers/cardstocks, clear substrates like acrylic or glass, and more. The density of the white ink allows graphics and text to appear opaque on these surfaces.

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.

Do printers print white?

Standard laser and inkjet printers can’t print using white ink or toner. These printers apply colored toners or inks onto a white paper surface, leaving the areas without ink application appearing as the white of the paper itself. As a result, printing in true white is not possible with most conventional desktop printers.

Why can’t standard desktop printers print with white ink?

Standard inkjet and laser printers are designed to apply colored inks (CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow, black) onto a white paper surface. They lack the ability to lay down a dense, opaque white ink or toner. The white areas you see are simply the untouched paper showing through.

What are some common uses for white ink printing?

White ink printing allows graphics and text to be printed with bright, opaque whites on non-white backgrounds. Common applications include printing designs onto colored fabrics for t-shirts/apparel, creating full-color prints on colored papers/cardstocks, printing photographs/images with white elements onto clear substrates like acrylic or glass, and more.