fluorescent ink contamination, options to mix to match

I recently printed a piece with PMS 811 (VanSon, oil-based, fluorescent) and have run several colors since then.

Now, I have another project that I am printing and I am using the same PMS 811 but am getting a very different color. The original color was less vibrant and seems like a PMS Warm Red. The new color (from the same ink) is much more vibrant and doesn’t seem as dirty as the previous. I’m very surprised that it appears to be contamination but I have been consistently cleaning with Putz Pomade and following up with a CA Wash cleaning.

It is very important that the two 811s match. Reprinting the first job is not an option as is has multiple colors and is a somewhat long run.

So, I’m trying to first understand what happened but also learn if there is a way to mix other colors with this fluorescent to get as close as possible to this version of the 811. I need there to be a way. :) I have a good selection of inks to work with (boxcar premium set).

Can someone offer any insight in how fluorescent inks can be mixed (if at all). Is there a specific approach I should take to try to match the existing color to the previous?. FYI, all of my other inks are rubber-based and the 811 is oil based.

Any assistance with this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


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Joshua was a bad boy and didn’t get the rollers clean the first time and now wants to match that color. I would ink up with black, then not clean up really good before inking up with the 811, it might work. i too use rubber base and have some oil inks, hate when i have to use the oil inks. when washing up for a light color i usually wash up then ink up with yellow or white ink then wash up again, this seems to get all thedarker ink off. Good Luck Dick G.

I think Dick is spot-on, make it dirty to make it match. I use to use the wash/ink/wash method when I ran offset, it works great on letterpress also


When you printed the first job, did you compare it with the swatch in the PMS book to be sure that it matched?

Since all the fluorescent colors are quite clean, if the color from the first job is less vibrant, then that may be the one which is off color. If that is true, and the customer chose the PMS color, then it would be taking quite a risk to print the second job in that color also. If the customer is knowledgable, he (she) might reject both jobs.

I wonder if the ink separated in the can and should have been mixed before you used it. Also, are both jobs printed on the same stock? Different stocks can make colors look different.

If you are trying to make the cleaner, more vibrant color look dirtier, then that is probably do-able, but mixing different types of inks may be introducing the possibility of other problems, like just for example, drying problems. However, if you only have to add a very small amount of another ink, you’re probably fairly safe, although it can’t be said with certainty. Did you get the PMS 811 from a local inkmaker? If so, it might be best to give the ink back to them with a sample of the color you want it to be, and let them make the adjustment.

Thanks for all of the feedback, everyone. Sorry for the delayed response. This proved to be a stressful and confusing situation.

I really like the idea above to wash up, then ink up with white, then wash up again. It seems like that is the perfect solution aside from the extra time required. Seems well worth it though to ensure that the integrity of the ink color is maintained.

To answer some of the questions above, when first printed, the 811 looked like a perfect match to the uncoated Pantone swatch. That is why I was even more confused when the second pass did not match as closely. The first printing looked more contaminated than the second though as the second was more vibrant.

Also, all of the pieces were printed on the same paper so that shouldn’t have an impact in this case.

The ink was purchased direct from Van Son.

I’m perplexed because I anticipated that the rollers should be extra clean before printing the fluorescent 811 and cleaned with Putz Pomade and followed up with cleaning with mineral spirits. My last few rounds of cleaning were done with clean, new white rags. So, I’m not sure exactly what happened.

Ultimately, I added a very small hint of another oil-based ink to match the colors more closely. It worked and the client was very happy with the final product.

I’m curious what others are doing to do a thorough deep cleaning? I have used this Putz approach several times previously with success but there obviously was some kind of contaminant remaining on the rollers when I started the 811. Is there some kind of test to ensure that the rollers are as clean as they can be. I imagine that if there is no color left on the white rags is ideal.

It’s interesting how each project presents new challenges and, therefore, opportunities for learning/growth.

Thanks again.



The ink contamination could have come from a number of sources other than the surface of the rollers. I believe you have a C&P press, right? If it has a split ink table that (even if it is not actively counter-rotating) the gap between the two pieces will hold old ink and solvent. The ends of the rollers are also a common place to find stray ink. Previously used metal type, cuts or photopolymer can have ink in counters and on shoulders. I use roller bearers and these need to be cleaned carefully, too. And although it shouldn’t happen on the press, I find chases and furniture will attract ink; sometimes as the chase is put in or taken out of the press it will touch a roller.

Good points, Arie. I’ll be sure to check ends of rollers and bearers especially.

Great to hear from you. Happy Holidays! I’ll finally have pics of my work thus far and will send your way sometime soon. You were certainly a major contributor in getting me up and running and that will always be appreciated.