Print White, Gloss, & Primer Basics


Printing the special inks with Roland printers requires design knowledge and VersaWorks knowledge. After learning the basics, experience will be required to troubleshoot the many materials and effects that are available and understand the applications.

Starting with White: White can be installed on both EcoSol & UV Roland printers. The design process is the same for both inks. You will need to load the Roland VersaWorks palette explained here. After you have the palette loaded locate the RDG_WHITE spot color. This gray swatch is the swatch used to tell VersaWorks where you want the white ink to print. I suggest you place the white on its own layer like I described in the CutContour post. Unlike the CutContour swatch being applied to the stroke – RDG_WHITE is usually applied to the fill.

What is White Ink for?: Typically substrates are white and your design will print no ink, none, on elements that are either RGB-255,255,255 or CMYK-0,0,0,0. It confuses many designers because they make a white swatch like those listed and the printed design ends up white in those areas. What is confusing is those colors just tell the RIP to not put ink in that “color.” RDG_WHITE tells the printer to put the white ink in that element.

On EcoSol printers: On EcoSol printers the white is for printing on clear substrates. My suggestion is that EcoSol white should be used in designs that also incorporate the clear of the substrate in the interior of the design as well. While the white backs up the color (in White -> CMYK mode discussed later) remember that the white will not make a bad design work on clear. “Bad designs” mostly involve Colors on white that are attached to windows where the color is expected to be visible. Color on windows almost always disappears – so allow the white to outline outside the color to make it pop.

On UV printers: The white is used on UV printers when printing on dark substrates. Keep in mind that even the UV color ink is translucent. Color prints on black will disappear if they are not backed with white. Unlike EcoSol – there is no need to have the white spread outside the element on UV printers.

Gloss Ink: Gloss is only available on Roland’s UV printers. Gloss is the name of the ink, but can be printed as a MatteVarnish, GlossVarnish, or Embossing. Like the white – gloss is added to your design by applying the RDG_GLOSS swatch to a vector shape. How that RDG_GLOSS is printed – or what [Mode] is used – is how the gloss will look. I will repeat this – the gloss is the ink that the RDG_GLOSS swatch calls up in VersaWorks, but that ink can be printed either MatteVarnish, GlossVarnish, or Embossing.

Primer? I see the primer as a specialty use gloss. RDG_PRIMER is inserted into a design when your printer has that ink setup – and is used for increased adhesion. If you do not have the primer ink setup in your machine – substitute a MatteVarnish pass instead.

So I have my file designed. Now what? Once you have the file created (or multiple files for the same job) the next step is loading the file into VersaWorks and telling VersaWorks how you want to print the file. We do this by choosing a [Mode] in the Quality Tab. What [Mode] you choose will depend on your machine and ink setup. Before I describe the modes, be aware that the modes will not show up in the wrong [Media Type.] In short, there is a dance between [Media Type] and [Mode] that needs to be explored – (even [Print Quality].) Take the time to play through all the [Media Type] and mode pull-down to see what [Mode] does what process. You may need to play with [Print Quality] as well – some [Print Quality] settings don’t allow for [Mode] changes.

Note: I will be using the CMYK to mean color – your printer may have an Orange, Red, or Green, or even the light CMK inks.

For EcoSol printers with white ink it is quite simple. You must choose a clear media – in current machines use Generic Clear. The choices of [Mode] is either CMYK (only), White -> CMYK, CMYK -> White, or White (only). The -> signifies what prints first and -> then. CMYK -> White is used with the mirror checkbox for decals that go on windows, but are seen from the opposite side. This is called “second surface” in sign lingo.

UV printers are a lot more complicated. They typically do not have media profiles for the [Media Type], but it would be better described as [Mode] categories: Generic, Generic with Special Effects, and Special Effects. Generic is used for jobs printing white. Generic with Special Effects is for jobs with a MatteVarnish pass. Both of these allow the White or MatteVarnish to be printed und or or on top of the gloss or white ink. Special Effects is for GlossVarnish, MatteVarnish, or Embossing and noticeably does not have a CMYK component. This mode is for the effects that can be created with the gloss ink by modifying the UV curing lamp – strong light creates MatteVarnish; light UV curing creates GlossVarnish (it will finish up with a strong UV cure pass after the printing;) The Embossing will do multiple passes shrinking the Gloss element each pass to create domed or braille effects.

LEF Machines also have a Distance [Mode] that slows the speed of the head allowing better clarity on surfaces that have rough or rounded surfaces – printing on golf balls being the easiest example.

User Experience: Operators may also need to play with overprint, Job grouping, and many settings that are set on the machine. This will take time and trial and error that cannot be covered here. Also spend some time reading some other posts on our Service Blog  that might be of interest like variable data.

One last item to explore: The machines with White, Primer, or Gloss have an added tab in VersaWorks called Special Color. This tab allows VersaWorks to generate a ink plate for one of the special inks. You must have the [Mode] set before this tab will be activated. There is also a panel for aligning these special inks if they are either peaking out one side or you want the special ink to be choked inside the CMYK elements. Take some time to explore.

Call if you have questions.

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