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From Shiny Cars to Futuristic Fashion: How Metallic Reflects the Zeitgeist

During the 1950s Space Race, cars were built with tailfins to mimic rockets—the metal particles in the metallic paint sparkled in the sun and emphasised the contours. In the 1960s, designer Pierre Cardin bent fashion rules by hammering metal jewelry onto dresses, so they resembled fine art and sculpture of the day. And in the 1980s and 1990s, hip-hop artists accentuated their style with blingy jewelry.

Today, gold and silver have spilled over to the mainstream, seen everywhere from metallic leather sneakers to rose gold smart phones. But why should materials get to have all the fun? Designers can print their silver and gold creations using the Xerox® Iridesse Production Press, the Xerox® Colour C60/C70 and Xerox Colour 800i/1000i Presses.

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Xerox’s process stands out because of its unique toner approach. “It is hard to print metallic because of the way you have to formulate the toner,” says Beatriz Custode, Colour Customisation & Engineering Services at Xerox. “You really have to grind metallic particles into it.” The flakes in the toner—rather than using high heat to bake and evaporate metal onto paper to leave a thin coating—make a significant difference in the image quality. “What you see is a sparkly effect because the light is bouncing in different directions,” says Custode.

Xerox technology allows for printing up to six colours in a single pass, offering more complex printing as standard and resulting in time saved. “The Iridesse is a great addition to production with a greater return on investment,” says Steve Shedden, owner of Ivory Graphics in the UK. “Silver and gold are perfect to upsell on any order."

“For thousands of years, metallic has been desirable because it means gold, silver, and other precious metals,” says Marcie Cooperman, a professor at Parsons, the New School for Design and colour education consultant for L’Oreal. “It's always been a way for us to feel uplifted.”

This article is part of Xerox’s Colour Campaign series that tells stories about the world’s most intriguing visuals and images. By investing in CMYK Plus Technology, we have the tools and the experts to help you add the effects of metallics to your next project. Find out more here.

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