Halftone ink vs Regular Rubber base

Somebody told me to get a better print with halftones to use Halftone ink. Is there such an ink? Also, this printer said Pantone Black is not a true black. Could someone clarify. I’m using rubber based inks on a C&P press.

Thanks Larry

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I’m not certain any ink manufacturer is making a halftone black for letterpress anymore. I do remember from my youth that halftone inks were available, and my understanding was that they were created as a “shorter” ink which would split the ink film more fully when the paper separated from the plate. I have used some of the high-speed litho inks for printing halftone images at 133-lines per inch, and they have worked well. The heavy-bodied litho inks generally used for letterpress will be more likely to string out when the plate and substrate separate, making it more likely that the images will fill in.

I believe the person who said “pantone black is not a true black” may have said that knowing that pantone black is a neutral black, not including the color cast that straight blacks often have with additions of other colors to warm or cool the black. The additions increase the density and make the black look “Blacker” to the viewer.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

Lawrence the arts suppliers in the UK still produces some magnificent black inks for letterpress. They stock five different blacks. In tubes and in tins.

Pantone Black is a neutral black, and is a must if mixing inks—especially grays. Other “black” inks, if thinned out, may have blue or other tints.

A process black ink will have a thinner body and not provide as strong a black, but that slight transparency is a much for four color process printing.

Gans Ink makes a #29995 black. It is “Dense”. It functions good to very well for halftone relief printing in my experience.

If you are using oil based inks, you might look into Lithographic inks- specifically “Shop mix black”. Very stiff, very short, very good for halftones. It is designed to be very sticky but release cleanly, and is mostly used for stone lithography- but it works for letterpress printing (I have used it).