Ink Printing Knowledge

  • Ink is available in dozens of standard colors. Standard colors may vary between envelope manufacturers. You should contact your envelope supplier for their list of standard colors.
  • If a non-standard ink color is required, you may ask the envelope supplier to match a specific sample or you can provide a Pantone Matching System® (PMS) number. The PMS book contains hundreds of color choices. When you choose a non-standard ink color, there is usually an upcharge applied to the cost of the envelope. Matching a specific sample will generally be more expensive than selecting a PMS color to use.
  • The following is a list of some of the standard ink colors provided by many envelope suppliers:

Process Yellow
012 Pantone Yellow
165 Orange
Warm Red
032 Red
185 Red
199 Red
Rubine Red
Process Magenta
Rhodamine Red
464 Brown
470 Brown

Pantone Purple
Reflex Blue
286 Blue
072 Pantone Blue
293 Blue
Process Blue
Process Cyan
Pantone Green
347 Green
423 Gray
Process Black

  • The ink can be applied in various ways as shown below:
    • Spot Color - colors applied using separate plates to add color in specific areas, each plate having a different image that is printed.
    • Duotones - two halftone images, which were produced using different screen angles, that are printed over each other. Duotones are generally printed in black and another color.
    • Tritones - three halftone images, produced at different screen angles, which were made from the same image and then printed over each other in three different colors.
    • Quadtones - four halftone images, produced at different screen angles, which were made from the same image and then printed over each other in four different colors.
    • Process Color - four process colors, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, printed on top of each other. Each color uses the same image produced at varying intensities, to reproduce a full color image.
    • High Fidelity Color (Hi-Fi) - a method of color printing which utilizes additional process ink colors to produce a greater range of color.
    • Prismatic Ink - the blending of two or more colors in a single printing unit. This produces a blend of color that is difficult to duplicate. It is most often used as a security feature.

View Samples of Special Ink Features

Indicate to the supplier the number of ink colors on the face and back of the envelope. To determine what is considered backprinting on the envelope see backprinting design features. Also, indicate if there is to be an inside tint on the envelopes.

Types of Inks

The type of ink used will depend on the type of printing process used. An envelope printed by flexography will be printed with a fast drying ink where as lithographic printing would use an offset ink. Thermography is another type of printing that produces a raised ink affect on the printed surface. For further information on the different processes, see printing processes.

Note: Envelopes that go through a laser printer need to be printed in heat resistant ink.


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