Printing on Copper?

A client is wanting a job to be printed on sheets of Copper (approx .005 thickness). I would love to hear from folks that have printed on Copper. Was it successful? DId you use a magnesium plate? Suggestions on companies to order copper sheets from? Type of ink?, etc… Thanks for your input + thoughts.

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Perhaps trawl the Web where ever you are check out *Van Son*, . .>TOUGH TEX< slow drying (air drying hence maybe lot of flat space per impression) but suitable for Non Porous surfaces, Plastic Copper etc. Available in U.K. and Europe, probably Van Son, H.Q. Holland, Black and standard Pantone colours but only 1 Kg, cans upwards
Lawrence Art supplies downtown Sussex U.K. (ship world wide) may supply tiny tubes. Good Luck… . Mick


In my earlier days I ran the letterpress department of an ad agency’s captive print shop. One of my most hated jobs was printing 1-up 1.5” x 3” copper foil labels on a 12x18 new style C&P. I used handset brass type, making a fairly heavy impression, and a special air-drying black ink from Braden-Sutphin, the name of the ink unknown to me now. The thin copper labels were adhered to copper castings with a solvent and heat, so the ink had to hold up under harsh conditions.

Suggest you contact ink manufacturers with your specifics and get their recommendations. Braden-Sutphin is still in business, you may want to contact them.

Michael Vickey

Thanks to all for commenting, I appreciate it! Well, today I spoke with VanSon, since I print with their rubber + oil based inks …. they were very helpful + I just shipped some copper sheet samples off to the IL office so they can test it for me using ToughTex black. My client is not interested in copper foiling at all, but the idea of having me screen print onto copper is a great one … I am looking forward to see how my sample does!!

Frankly, this is exactly a job for UV or Solvent screenprinting. The issue you will have most likely relates to cutting the copper up after printing. You can’t screenprint teeny things as easily as you can, say, letterpress print them. It’s doable but not as easily. Most people gang up and cut small items- may not be possible with your product, due to it being copper foil and all.

With screenprinting, it will also be critical to clean the metal before-hand.

Your best bet may be to get them to a printer who can run the work on an adhesive style Tshirt/platen press, and load/print several cards in a row, remove, then place several more. Im afraid a vacuum system wouldn’t hold the cards in place well enough.

As an alternative to screen printing which certainly is the best method so far I would try and find someone with a ink jet UV flatbed printer, you can print virtually anything on these machines from candles to glass to food to metal.
Single to multicolour in one pass. The possibilities are endless.
Paul Kirton