White toner printing: top applications and how to sell them

What is white toner printing?

At the beginning of this year we covered the digital print trends that our customers are going to want to pay attention to this year. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at one trend in particular – white toner printing.

White toner printing looks great on coloured media and can achieve effects that are almost impossible with a standard CMYK setup. It’s particularly effective for marketing and promotional materials, where eye-catching and original designs are a must.

example of white toner printing side by side comparison with white ink much more impactful

Historically, spot colours such as white toner were mostly available to offset lithographic printers. Offset litho is a printing process which transfers ink to plates before printing that ink onto media. Because of the steps involved, it can be costly and time-consuming, making it problematic for quick turnaround or short-run jobs.

One advantage of offset, however, is that additional spot colours, such as white toner , could be added to the traditional CMYK combination.

Digital printers, by contrast, were limited to the traditional CMYK colour range. However, new digital printers with 5th colour functionality allow print providers to print fifth colours directly onto media.

Digital printers are more versatile and cheaper than offset litho printers, giving print providers a fast-turnaround and cost-effective option for short-run requests. Examples include limited edition packaging, targeted direct mail campaigns or one-off window banners.

Why is white toner printing popular right now?

With the above in mind and according to InfoTrends research, almost half of print service providers are considering investing in some form of digital print enhancement. And almost 30% of all coloured pages receive some sort of enhancement, such as white toner , foil, texture or gamut extension.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Print buyers, designers and marketers are looking to push boundaries and find new ways to engage audiences. Obviously, print service providers are happy to find new ways for them to do this – for a price. For this reason, profit margins on digital print enhancements can be high and well above standard print margins, from 50% right up to 400%
  • Similarly, print providers are looking to stand out, stay relevant, remain competitive and differentiate themselves. It’s much better for print service providers to attract customers by adding value rather than reducing costs. And a key way for printers to add value is to offer enhancements, such as white toner , in a way that is cost-effective and timely

What are some key white toner printing applications?

  • Dark or colourful card such as business cards, invitations, postcards, envelopes and packaging. Colourful media is a surefire way to grab people’s attention. In fact, coloured media has been proven to increase the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns by up to 135%
  • Transparencies such as foils or window clings. If you want to print on transparent media foils or window clings you’ll need to create a base layer using white toner . white toner can also be used later in the printing process in order to create a sharp and defined image
  • Magazines, photobooks, photo calendars. Sales of printed books rose 4% in the UK last year, while their digital counterparts declined by 2%. Physical, printed books are expected to be premium quality and print customers are looking for suppliers who can help them achieve this
  • Direct-to-garment printing onto dark merchandise often requires the use of a 5th colour as it can be hard to achieve a full range of effects using just CMYK

Watch the video below to see a range of white toner printing applications for yourself:

How should printers market 5th colour solutions to marketers and designers?

At first, some printers question the use of white toner or any of the 5th colours. It’s only when they see the creative and commercial opportunities for themselves that they get onboard.

We often do a side-by-side comparison, one image with white and ink and one without. And when you compare the two, the difference is clear to see. Printing with white toner has far more impact. Combined with the extensive media options available on Ricoh technology, as well as five colour printing in a single pass, suddenly a digital printer with 5th colour technology starts to look very appealing.

But convincing printers is only half the challenge. The printers also have to convince designers.

For a long time, designers were very limited in the technology available and the media they could print on – especially digitally. Now, with the introduction of white toner , many more avenues are open to explore.

Small format point-of-sale creative with window graphics are a prime example. Being able to print on clear or transparent substrates has always been a challenge, because to give density the colour element needed to be backed with white. In the past, this was very difficult. But digital printing with white toner has made this much easier.

Printers who are successfully capitalising on the commercial opportunities that white toner printing opens up are the ones who are helping their own customers understand the creative opportunities.

5 things to consider if you’re thinking about investing in white toner printing

  • Do you have a direct connection with the design agencies you work with? This will help you be able to advise your customers on how to make the most of your new print capabilities
  • Do you have their own in-house designers ? In-house designers are particularly able to tap into the full range of creative possibilities that 5th colour digital printing presents
  • Explore media & substrate options available as this is a major factor in the print process
  • Don’t ignore the finishing options. This can detract from the finished product but if done well it will bring out the best in the work
  • Look out for opportunities, you may see something in a store or restaurant and think, I can now do that in-line with my new printer

How Ricoh printers helped Your Memory Keeper create a unique and personalised product for their customers

Your Memory Keeper produce personalised gift boxes for personal and corporate clients. The personalised designs are printed using a Ricoh Pro C7100X, chosen for its speed of output and the richness and depth of the print-quality on the box.

You can watch the video below for more information on how your Memory Keeper were able to build a successful business using the Ricoh Pro C7100X.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Ricoh can help you achieve any of the applications listed above, you can follow the links below for more information on our print products:

And if you have any questions about anything in this article, feel free to drop me a line on LinkedIn.

Simon Isaacs

Simon Isaacs - National Sales Director - Ricoh UK