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Which paper and board bases are used for producing metallized materials at GTC?

We only use high quality raw materials of trusted European manufacturers. The choice of the brand depends on the requirements and the needs of our clients.

Most often, we use materials from the following companies to produce our metallized paper: Brigl and Bergmeister, Stora Enso, Aralar, Cham Paper Group, Ahlstrom or Sappi.

The most frequently used baseboards for metallized boards are made by Metsä Board, Iggesund, Stora Enso and International Paper.

Metallized materials are more expensive than non-metallized ones. Are they worth the extra cost?

Eye tracking research proved that in 80% of the cases, metallized materials spontaneously attracted more attention than non-metallized ones. This is explained by the fact that the shine of the metal instantly attracts a person’s attention. Additionally, the metallized label/packaging appears more expensive and high quality as its image is brighter. This makes metallized packaging/label brighter and more noticeable on the shelf as compared to the non-metallized one.


It is true that metallized materials are more expensive than white ones. However, as the estimates of our clients in the beer-making companies and publishing houses show, the difference between the cost of the ready product with a label/packaging from white and metallized materials is irrelevant per item.

It comes as no surprise that many manufacturers today are willing to pay a little extra for the metallized packaging understanding that metallized paper/boards give them a chance to stand out against competitors and to increase sales volumes without changing the design of the label/packaging and without any additional measures. 

What category do the metallized materials fall into – absorbent or non-absorbent – and what is special about printing on these materials?

Depending on the way the ink dries, all surfaces are divided into absorbent and non-absorbent:

  • Paper and board are absorbent – the ink is imprinted as it is absorbed and oxidized
  • Other materials (such as films and plastic, foil, metallized paper and board) are non-absorbent and ordinary offset inks cannot be applied to them as they cannot impregnate ordinary offset inks. Non-absorbent materials most often get printed with UV and foil offset alkali proof inks.

What are the properties and advantages of metallized materials?

In addition to improved design and color rendering characteristics, metallized packaging also provides a barrier against UV rays. This is especially important for the group of items that is sensitive to light (medication, for instance) as it helps to naturally extend shelf life. It is logical that manufacturers are starting to use packaging based on metallized boards bearing in mind their value added properties. 

Do the GCT's metallized materials require any preparation (priming) before printing?

No, they don’t, as the board and paper produced by GCT carry a finishing primer ensuring high-quality printing with UV and foil offset alkali proof inks. 

What kinds of metallized materials are there?

There are four main kinds of metallized materials on the market – laminated with metallized film, foil, transfer and vacuum metallized materials. At first glance, there is not much difference between them as in all four cases, the material sports a glossy metallized surface. However, still these are four different materials with their own properties that allow them to be used for distinct product categories. 

When printing folic paints on the metallized surface ink dries or long or very fast (already in the parocess of printing) - what is the reason and how it can be avoided?

Foil inks, unlike the ordinary inks, contain extra siccatives, catalyzing oxidative polymerization. For this reason, it is best not to add any more siccatives to foil inks. If there are too many siccative in the foil ink, the ink may dry during the printing process on the ink-receiving roller or during short breaks in the printing machine’s operation.


If there is a need for a catalyst, special additives intended for foil inks should be used. To speed up ink drying, it is possible to add a fountain solution (2%) instead of adding the siccative directly to the ink, and it is also possible to use a ready-made concentrated fountain solution with siccatives.


When printing with foil inks, the printing should be done with fresh inks only as foil inks oxidize quickly and form a film. Sometimes, it makes sense to apply a special white foil primer. If you apply a primer for big billets, you can achieve saturated and bright colors.

What is special about the boards laminated with metallized film?

These kinds of boards are widely spread across Russia and are provided by many printing and publishing houses. The production of laminated boards requires comparatively inexpensive equipment (most often the fusible laminator) and expendable materials – board, metallized film and the glue, which combines the two materials.


The material comes in sheets and rolls (depending on the type of laminator) and has several advantages: it has good forming and protecting properties (owing to the film), and is competitively priced if it is based on an inexpensive baseboard. However, in some conditions, the advantages might turn into disadvantages:


  • The film has a certain expiration date when it loses its activating properties, after which, the surface tension drops and the material is no longer valid for printing;
  • The film is less manageable at the time of cutting and decreases the life span of the knife run;
  • The film often loses its laminating properties even at the slight bend of the packaging which makes a product less attractive;
  • Using cheap recycled boards as the base might not be safe. According to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), the exposure of hydrocarbon combinations of the mineral oil through the packaging carries a risk for human health. The EFSA risk assessment body confirmed that recycled boards (especially without a barrier layer to the product) are the main source of the hydrocarbon compositions mentioned above. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of printing on the metallized surface of UV-curable inks?

Printing with UV inks is a more versatile and environmentally friendly method for non-absorbent materials. The advantage of this technology is that it requires no anti-set-off powder and the ink dries almost instantly.


However, UV inks are more expensive than foil ones and can be used only for special printing machines that feature extra driers. This makes the process more energy consuming and expensive when using the UV inks.

How can you tell a vacuum metallized board from the laminated one?

It is rather easy to distinguish between a laminated board and vacuum or transfer metallized board – a cut in the material will reveal its structure. In a laminated board, the metallized film will easily tear away from the baseboard while for the vacuum and transfer metallization boards, the metallized surface will even out together with the paper layer – and metal particles implanted into the board’s structure will be visible at the cut. 

What are the general guidelines for folic printing inks on the metallized surface?What are the general recommendations for using foil inks on metallized surfaces?

As a rule, foil inks are durable to alcohol, alkali and heat.


It is not recommended to use additives, namely drying accelerators (siccatives) when working with foil inks. This has to do with the fact that oxidative fixation inks contain enough siccatives and their excess amount can make the ink dry on the ink-receiving roller or during the short breaks in the machine operation.


If there is a need to add a siccative to the ink, its amount should not exceed 5% of the volume of the ink fountain. A good alternative to making additives to the ink it using a siccative, which is added to the fountain solution (usually not more than 2%).


It is not advised to make big breaks between the printing jobs as foil inks dry quickly on the ink rollers and this means that the ink fountain will need washing after a 30-40 minute break. The best pH value for universal foil inks is 5.5.


The sheet output should be set so as to make the sheet fed onto the delivery stacker lie vertically with a minimum transverse shift. The height of the stack should not exceed 10-15 cm. 

Which type of metallization should be used for which categories?

It is more efficient to use boards laminated with metallized film for some categories of items, for instance - for fish coats. An affordable grease-resistant board is indispensable in this case. Also, the material shelf life (and consequently, the film activation expiry period is not so important here as this category does not require a high printing standard).


For some categories, like pharmaceutical products or print art, all three types of boards can be used and their choice depends on the possibilities and requirements of the printing company producing the packaging.


However, there are also categories, which only allow using transfer or vacuum metallized boards. It is true for the categories where using metallized materials can cause it to delaminate (for instance, producing laminated sections for kitchen facades). In these cases, a board that is delamination-proof should be used. 

How can the white print quality be improved for metallized materials?

If the equipment allows for it, when printing in line with an opaque white ink, it is recommended to leave a blank section under pressure. This will help increase the contrast of the colors to be printed over the white and will give some extra time for fixing the opaque print.

How can the “plucked out” and “botched” effect be neutralized on the paper or board surface?

In case of the “plucked out”* effect (so-called destruction of the paper or board’s upper layer manifesting in partitioned fibers, fiber bundles or particles during the printing process due to increased ink stickiness) or“botches”* (so-called appearance of unwanted particles on the plate causing printed image defects) the stickiness of the ink should be reduced by ink correction means (not more than2 %).


When such defects appears on the opaque white print, it is advised to dissolve the ink Opaque white/ Transparent white to the maximum ratio of 1:1.


What fountain solution should be used for printing on metallized surfaces?

The fountain solution feed should be minimal when printing with foil inks. Even a small disproportion between the fountain solution and the ink destabilized their balance, and this either makes the ink fix poorly or it starts drying on the ink rolls.


The fountain solution concentrate should be chosen depending on the tap water hardness. Overly acidic additives should be avoided for the fountain solution. This is because that the pH value of the fountain solution should not be less than 5.3. If it is less, the fountain solution needs changing. The temperature of the fountain solution should be maintained between 10-12 °С. To reduce the thickness of the fountain solution on the printed form and to facilitate the drying, isopropyl alcohol should be added (up to 15%).


The most water-absorbent are the process, metallized and Magenta inks. The pigment in the red ink is very hydrophilic. The normal conductivity of the fountain solution for foil inks is between 800 and 1500 mS. The fountain solution’s electric conductivity indicator can be used to judge its pureness and composition. 

Sometimes, the ink fastens poorly. Why does that happen and how can you prevent this?

It is a fact that ink, which is strongly emulsified by water, fastens poorly, and the printed colors are not saturated. The printing should be started on the slowest printing mode with a minimum fountain solution feed to prevent water emulsifying into the ink as the fountain solution is not absorbed by the material and the moisture builds up in the ink.


When processing the plates with a catalyst or purifier, they should be washed off with water to prevent the acid from entering the fountain solution. It should be kept in mind that acidic additives hinder the speed of ink fixation. 


Anti-set-off powder can affect the quality of the color layer and cause problems at the time of cutting. Should it be used at all when printing metallized materials with foil inks?

An excess quantity of the powder can really make the image less glossy, reduce the durability of the paint layer to wear, and causes problems when cutting the product. However, it is vital to use the powder when printing with foil inks on metal. It is important to strictly comply with the dosage recommended by the manufacturer. After the printing material goes through the printing machine, it is important to apply a thin layer of anti-set-off powder. It is recommended to use powders based on starch or sugar at the output.

Sometimes, even when using IR-curing problems with fixing ink. How can this be avoided?Sometimes, even if the IR drier is used, there seems to be a problem with fixing the ink. How can this be avoided?

When using the IR dryer, you need to make sure that the warm air is effectively diverted. Otherwise, the accumulation of vapors may cause problems with ink fixation. Problems may also come up when printing in conditions of extra humidity and low temperatures. Extra ventilation of prints is recommended to improve the drying; the hot air circulation is more effective in fixing the ink than the temperature of the IR drier lamps.

What is the right way to coat the foil ink prints?

Special water dispersion coatings for the non-absorbent surfaces are recommended for foil ink prints. 

What is the difference between the technologies of producing vacuum metallized materials and laminated materials and transfer metallized materials?

Lamination is actually gluing two ready materials – board and metallized film. This is the most low-budget way to make metallized materials, as the cheapest raw materials will do. Laminates have their advantages and disadvantages, like delamination, activation expiration, etc. 


Unlike a facility producing laminated boards, a vacuum metallization facility requires vast investments and costly equipment – a coating machine and metal spraying pistols, which cost millions of euros. In this respect, it is possible to say that the vacuum technology is protective on its own to some degree as it is impossible to fake it without similar equipment.


The vacuum metallization process involves deposition of metal particles onto the paper/board surface in the metal spraying pistol’s vacuum chamber. These types of materials are more expensive than laminates as their production requires high quality coated paper and board bases. These materials are primarily ideal for high quality polygraphics and premium class packaging. If less expensive bases are used, for instance the GC2 boards, the items can be used for the mass-market range.


The qualities of the transfer metallization boards resemble those of vacuum metallization boards. The difference lies in the more complicated and costly production technology, which increases the cost of the ready material. These types of materials are not made in Russia and are rather scarce on the domestic market.


What is the right way to store metallized materials?

Metallized paper and boards should be stored enclosed in their original packaging to ensure a constant humidity indicator.


Before printing, the material should be acclimatized in the production room for at least 2 hours. If the difference between the temperatures of the metal and the room is big, the acclimatization should be prolonged to 24 hours.