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Can Printers Print White Ink? (Here’s The Types That Can)

The printer allows you to print in a myriad of colors.

One might think printing in white is as simple as printing in any other colors. So you never really bother thinking ‘can printer print white.’

However, when you need to print in white, you will notice that printing in white is not as simple as with other colors.

In this article, we will discuss why printing in white is not very easy and how it can be done.

Can Printer Print White

The simple answer is yes. The printer CAN print white, but it can be tricky.

The real question is how to Print in white. That is because a printer is NOT equipped to print in white from the get go.

You have to take special measure yo achieve white color printing.

Why is Printing in White an Issue?



An average printer has 4 ink cartridges represent by CMYK color scheme which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

We all know that majority of the prints are done on WHITE PAPER.

Hence, printing in white is usually note something that we really worry about.

That is because when a printer prints, it mixes the CMYK colors to give a particular shade on the printed image.

It does so by assigning a numerical value to each cartridge.

When it sees pure white texts, the value represented on the cartridges becomes 0 like so 0 Cyan, 0 Magenta, 0 Yellow and 0 Black.

0 in computer terminologies means OFF or Blank. Hence a PURE WHITE COLOR TEXT ON THE IMAGE WOULD ACTUALLY BE “CLEAR/BLANK”.

The white you see would actually be the background color of the white paper that text is printed on.

This becomes an issue when you have to print WHITE ON A NON-WHITE paper.

Fortunately, there are workarounds.

There are many ways in which white color printing can be achieved and we will review them below.

How to Print in White?

So you have already understood from above why the question “Can printer print white” is important.

Now we will try to understand how to print in white.

Let us recall that, Microsoft Word and other document applications allow you to set different colors for your text and images. You can also set the color of text and images as White.

However, first white will not appear on the same white surface.

Here are a few ways you can print in white.

1. Create A White Ink Effect

You can create the white ink effect by simply by choosing a slightly different shade than pure white.

For example, you can mix a tiny bit of yellow in white to make it a little off-white type of shade.

Basically you need to fool the printer and stop it from treating the white tax as “0” or BLANK space.

That way, when the printer prints, it will actually mix the CMYK inks to create the white shade instead of just bouncing off and staying clear free of the white area.

Of course the printed photo/image/text will not be pure white, but if you choose a very light white shade, the difference will be unnoticeable.

2. CMYW Color Space Printer

This is the opposite of the usual CMYK color scheme. Instead of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, this color space comprises of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and WHITE color cartridges.

Unfortunately, not only are white inks rare, they are also more expensive.

3. Printing Contours

We have already established that printing pure white is simply impossible with a normal CMYK printer.

However, if you want a pure white color on your printed material, there is an old trick that you can use.

Recall from earlier that pure white color basically means “blank” space on the printed material.

Once the printed material comes out of the printer, you can then hand paint white in the spots that printer left as blank due to white color.

4. White Ink Cartridge For Desktop Printers

Special white ink for desktop printers is also available.

Printing ink comes in five color ink cartridges that include white color.

White ink offers white as a color with other colors and offers spot printing.

It means that instead of the white text/spot being left BLANK ink appears as a color when printing, and because it is a light color, it needs to be layered up for the right effect.

Still, white printing is problematic and can be tricky. Read below.

Related: How To Get More Ink From A Printer Cartridge

How can Printing in White Cause Problems?

Printing in white can cause the following problems.

1. Costly

Though there are white printing inks available, these inks are expensive and may considerably increase your printing cost.

2. Ink Mist
ink mist

The white printed samples sometimes have ink mist.

It happens especially when the storage temperature of the ink is lower than the specification that may increase the viscosity of the ink.

White ink precipitates easily as compared to other colors. It can cause ink mist on your printed designs that may undermine the quality of your prints.

3. White Ink Needs Rigorous Cleaning

Printing in white can be a nuisance, especially when you have to clean the nozzle heads and other printer parts.

Even the slight dilution or the trace of other colors can change the quality of your color.

You need to clean several printer parts to remove the traces, or they will change the effect of white printing.

4. Extra Special Ink
white ink cartridge

White ink is extra special and needs more care and expertise to handle. It needs to be kept on a proper temperature.

Too low or too high temperature can change its viscosity and may cause many printing problems.

It can even cause problems in your printer.

Related: Troubleshooting A Printer Not Printing Black

Does White Ink Need Special Paper?

White print needs a colored background to see.

You need colored papers that can highlight your prints and make them look more vibrant and catchy.  You can use different colored papers and envelopes for white printing.

Related: Where Does The Ink In A Printer Come From?


Therefore, the simple answer to the question “can printer print white” is YES it can. HOWEVER, a conventional printer cannot print pure white without a dedicated white ink tank.

Instead, there is a workaround that you must employ in order to produce the pure white ink effect on your printed material.

While printing in white can be problematic, for some designs, it may be imperative. For these designs, you can buy white ink cartridges.

This cartridge does need extra care. Make sure to clean your printing heads, nozzles, even the printing needle before you use white ink for the best results.

You also need to store white ink more carefully. Printers can print in white but only if you have special opaque white ink. Unfortunately, it is even more expensive than printing other colors.