Metallic Mania: Why Offset Printing Is So Expensive

Gold is everywhere right now and the demand for metallic invitations is hot. That little touch of sheen screams luxe. However, metallic printing can be pricey, particularly on a budget. In this series I’ll talk about some of the options for metallic printing, as well as provide some “cheats” to get the metallic effect without breaking the bank.

Printing in Metallic, the Old Fashioned Way: Offset Printing

Life would be a lot easier if we could go to our local Staples and buy a gold metallic cartridge for our HP home printer and be done. Unfortunately, home printers don’t offer metallic printing, and even digital printing, which is the most common option for printing invitations professionally, does not offer a metallic option. Offset printing is the only means by which we can print with metallic ink.


Offset printing is an expensive route and is generally reserved for larger “runs” (aka a lot of prints – think 5,000 company brochures). According to, “offset printing works by transferring ink from a plate to a rubber sheet, which then rolls the ink onto paper, vinyl or other surface.” The cost for the plate, also known as the set-up fee, needs to be spread over 1,000s of prints in order to bring the cost per print down. Since the average number of invitations is 100-200, a person choosing this method to print invitations is going to pay a pretty penny.


Excellent. The “gold” standard in printing.


Offset printing is generally offered through both large print companies and some mom and pop print shops, as well as some online printers.


If your invitation consists of nothing but text, it may not be worth the price to offset print just so your text is metallic. With the actual printing so small, it may be hard to distinguish whether the text is metallic or not. You may want to reserve this option for when your invitation has a larger expanse of color, if you use it at all.

The sheen of an offset printed metallic is duller and less intense than foil printing. If you’re looking for more of a reflective effect (think aluminum foil), you might be better off having your invitations foil printed.

For more information on offset printing:

Stay tuned for my next post on foil printing.


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