Printing on napkins is a tricky business.
Napkin tissue is absorbent. Unlike paper, ink absorbs into the tissue, resulting in artwork that appears larger than when it was applied. And it impacts what can print on a napkin.
We use a technique called spot ink printing for the majority of napkins we produce. Spot ink printing uses Pantone colors, a standardized catalog of colors formed from 18 basic shades. Spot inks are applied in a single ink run, resulting in a cleaner, more even distribution of color. But shades are limited and ink can only be applied in blocks (no gradients). In total, spot ink printing on napkins allows for a maximum of only four different colors.
For customers with more complex or photorealistic art, we provide four color process printing. Process printing, or CMYK printing, applies ink as a series of cyan, magenta, yellow, or black dots that when viewed, form a complete, colorful picture.
Due to their absorbent nature, the dots used in four-color process printing appear larger than they would in normal paper printing. Nonetheless, process printing allows us to create beautiful, intricate artwork on all our napkins.