Reflex Blue Making You Crazy? You’re Not Alone!

tabloid printing company

Reflex Blue Making You Crazy? You’re Not Alone!

Reflex Blue Making You Crazy? You’re Not Alone!

Here’s a quick, fun printing fact: printers want to curl up and cry when they get projects with dark blue ink.

“Why?” we hear you asking. Two little words: Reflex Blue.

As a tabloid printing company in Greenville SC, you’re probably familiar with the 14 Pantone mixing inks that are usually used to build all the other Pantone colors. One of these is Reflex Blue. The best way to describe it is as a deep blue-violet shade. It’s a lot richer than the closest mixing ink, known as Blue 072.

Reflex Blue, Is That You?

Reflex Blue’s rich color comes from a family of pigments known as Alkali Blue pigments. This set includes the mineral cobalt. These minerals are strong in color, and that’s how Reflex Blue gets such a rich, deep shade. Just like most of the other alkaline minerals (such as soapstone and limestone) they are extremely porous, even at the granular level. Essentially, what gives Reflex Blue its signature hue are the minerals it contains, that act almost like little, tiny sponges.

If you’re not particularly familiar with the printing process, it is best described as a balancing act. As a tabloid printing company in Greenville SC, you need to constantly be juggling 4 parts:

  • Ink – the oil-based liquid that is being printed.
  • Image – usually on a polyester or metal plate.
  • Paper – the cover stock or paper that is being run, as well as its thickness and finish.
  • Water – various additives and pH specific water that aids conductivity, drying, and release. This is usually referred to as “Fountain Solution”.

Once the ink has been transferred onto the paper, it is extremely wet and can easily be smeared or smudged. Before the print can be handled or the second site printed, you need to give the ink time to dry properly.

Some colors tend to dry faster, particularly lighter colors. Darker colors take a bit longer to dry. And then there’s good ol’ Reflex Blue. The downside of those tiny, minute sponges that make Reflex Blue such a great shade is that they tend to work incredibly hard against the drying process. Depending on the amount of coverage and the surface of the stock, there are some printers who will tell you that Reflex Blue hardly ever fully dries.

But Wait… There’s More

If you’re lucky enough to have a Pantone book, you’ll probably have noticed that most of the inks have mixing formulas.

Take a really standard Royal Blue hue: Pantone 286. The process for mixing this one is 75% Reflex Blue and 25% Process Blue. This mix is going to take quite a while to dry.

Compare this to Pantone 2747 which is a somewhat deeper, darker navy blue. That formula comprises about 6% Black, 94% Blue 072, and absolutely no Reflex. The slightly different set of minerals mean this deeper color actually dries faster. Pretty strange!

So Why Does All This Matter?

As a tabloid printing company in Greenville SC, it’s important to determine at the design and project planning stage which inks you’re going to be dealing with. If you or your clients are absolutely set on using Reflex Blue, it’s worth thinking about a varnish or coating option that will help with handling the finished prints. Don’t forget to factor in further production time too.

Need More Help?

Martin Printing has been in the printing business since 1902. We offer a full range of printing services and can help you streamline your processes and save time and money. Contact us for a quote today.