I am submitting art to be offset printed on aerosol cans and plastic tubes. It uses 2 PMS colours. One plate is a 100% flood. The other one is a linear gradient from 0% to 100%. The gradient is to be overprinted on the 100% flood. The maximum density will be 200%. This is the way the boxes are printed, and it looks great.

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Can overprint be used on metal containers (aerosol cans) or plastic tubes? Since the material is way less absorbent than paper, I am worried that the ink might start moving around if the density is too high.

I know I can ask my manufacturer, and I did, but they are in China and, although they are a very seasoned manufacturer, I am having a hard time communicating the overprint concept to them. I was wondering if it is because it is not possible to use overprint on these materials, so nobody ever asks for it.

  • I have always presumed that 100% flood is an issue because it makes it harder for the paper to accept more ink. Is this not relevant to non-absorbent materials and techniques? I expect they use offset techniques with some sort of UV inks which dry "instantly" and are formulated for application on metal and plastic (?) – horatio Dec 10 '13 at 22:04
  • @horatio: I haven't had problems with overprinting on 100% floods before, as long as I don't go over the maximum ink density. On the contrary, if the art that is shown above would be printed by using two PMS gradients (light and dark) that meet on a mid point, it would create an area of low density (where the two meet) that would look kind of washed out. About the UV inks, I assumed the same you did, that they would use UV inks, but since they rejected the art saying the result might be unexpected, I suspect they don't use overprint very often. I'll have to live with the low density area : ( – cockypup Dec 10 '13 at 22:30

Gradients of 100-0% will not work well. There will be a point (3-8% where the dot pattern will drop off sharply, leaving a visible line. Best to use a gradient that does not zero out,


You've covered all your bases, and tried to do the right thing (get advice from the printer) so all we can do now is make educated guesses.

EDIT: Damn. Missed the comments... I'd imagine this is going to be screen or UV ink jet printed. In that case, absorption shouldn't be an issue because it will be flashed between colors or UV curved as part of the print process.

200% coverage doesn't even come close to ringing any alarm bells for me. Without special instructions from your print facility, I'd say you're OK.

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