Printbuyers Online

Printing on Synthetic Papers
An interview with Yupo Corporation

Editor's note:
I recently interviewed Mike Licata, Technical Services Manager of Yupo Corporation, the world's largest synthetic paper manufacturer. Mike gives us both the low-down on the benefits of printing on synthetic paper and production tips.

If you are considering using synthetic paper for an upcoming print project, or just curious, visit Yupo's website at or call 888.USE.YUPO. You can order paper samples, swatchbooks, or find out more technical information. You should definitely get on their mailing list - they have the coolest promotions!

Suzanne Morgan: What is synthetic printing paper?
Mike Licata: Synthetic paper is an extremely durable, dimensionally stable, waterproof paper that offers printers and designers a perfect balance of superior printability properties combined with unmatched strength properties.

SM: What is it made from - plastic?
ML: Synthetic paper is paper made from polypropylene and inorganic fillers, instead of wood fibers. It prints remarkably similar to traditional paper.

SM: What is the texture of synthetic paper? Does it look recycled?
ML: Polypropylene synthetic paper is exceptionally smooth and has unequalled whiteness compared to traditional paper. Its smoothness allows for maximum print contrast and effective runability. The smoother the surface, the cleaner the transfer between ink and paper, resulting in crisper, clearer images.

SM: What are some of the benefits for print buyers and designers using synthetic paper?
ML: First of all, it's durable. It has a long life span because of the high tensile strength. Second, it's waterproof. Synthetic paper doesn't degrade when submerged in water because it doesn't contain wood fiber. It's very pliable, so it folds without cracking. And it's also tear- and scuff-resistant.

SM: Why would a designer choose to print on synthetic paper?
ML: Its unique physical characteristics, which include water-resistance, tear-resistance, and superior pliability, enable creative concepts to be fully realized. And it accepts a wide range of finishing applications, such as embossing, foil stamping, diecutting, and more.

SM: What types of projects are best for using synthetic papers?
ML: Some great uses for synthetic paper include:

  • posters

  • maps

  • membership cards

  • manuals

  • business cards

  • menus

  • banners

  • point-of-purchase displays

Also, because the paper is so strong, it's great for foil stamping, embossing, diecutting, folding, perforating, laminating, and binding.

SM: What types of projects are not well suited for synthetic paper?
ML: Most synthetic paper should not be used in copy machines, fax machines, or laser printers due to the high temperature generated by those types of equipment.

SM: Does synthetic paper have to be printed on special equipment?
ML: No. Synthetic paper can be printed on offset lithographic, flexographic, and gravure presses. Only minor variations must be made to the printing process to ensure proper results.

SM: I would assume that synthetic paper is environmentally friendly -- is that true?
ML: Yes. It doesn't use enormous volumes of precious natural resources (trees) and it can be recycled with other plastic materials.

SM: What types of coatings can I use on synthetic paper?
ML: Both aqueous and UV coatings are commonly used on synthetic paper to enhance the print quality and provide extra protection.

SM: Can you give us a few tips on how to work with synthetic paper?
ML: Yes.

  1. Just as you should with traditional paper, allow at least 48 hours for the synthetic paper to acclimate to the conditions of the pressroom.

  2. The ink should be specially formulated for the paper. The printer should work closely with the ink manufacturer to select the right ink for the paper. Sheetfed printers can use low-solvent inks, which produce vivid, consistent print quality. However, synthetic paper is non-porous, so it takes longer to dry, so you should expect a slightly longer turnaround on your jobs. The printer should print the thinnest possible ink film to produce the desired color and density.

  3. It's important that the printer control the dampening solution on press. Because synthetic papers are non-absorbent, excess water could potentially interfere with ink transfer and result in over-emulsification of the ink. Adjusting each unit just above the scum line is the best method for preventing dampening-related problems.

Your readers can go to our Web site ( for additional tips and more in-depth information on synthetic paper.

SM: Thanks, Mike, for your insights!

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