Poor results printing on kraft paper.


I’m pretty sure this will just be down the to paper, but I thought I’d post and see if anyone can suggest alternative papers etc.

My GF is trying to print some CD sleeves for a friend, she has some generic brand kraft paper CD sleeves to print on.

Print comes out fine on regular paper, but is really patchy on the CD sleeves.

Printing on an Adana 8 x 5.

Tried thinning the ink a little but that didn’t go too well.

Not sure where else to go with this one, I’m sure it’s the paper, but she’s promised them to someone!

I did print on something similar a while back with some rubber based ink, which worked OK but took a loooong time to dry, some maybe a different ink would work better?

Can anyone recommend any nice brown paper/card CD sleeves? We’re in the UK but I guess we can buy from anywhere!


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Be sure the sleeves are really untreated kraft paper and not something like brown Tyvek, plastic-impregnated for durability. Also, check the paper for variations in thickness, and that you’re printing on just one or two thicknesses of paper, not an overlapping glue seam. If the latter you may need to prepare a makeready to even out the pressure. And also be aware that if you are trying to print a large area of image on the sleeve the press may not be up to it — a sleeve is more than half the area of your chase, which would be at least double the capacity of the 8x5.


It would be helpful to know what you are printing, is it text and are there any solids? Also what are you using, type, mylar or metal plate?
If you got a good print on other stock then I would suggest try upping the pressure a bit first. If you are right down on the stops then add a couple of pieces of newsprint under the top sheet.
A trick with the 8x5 is to set it up with a small piece of rubber under the stops so when you want that extra bit of squeeze you put more pressure on the handle and you don’t have to add packing.

As your stock may be uneven try softening the packing with newsprint replacing card or put some thin rubber in the packing.

I thought you might be interested in this video which shows CD printing using one of the £40 block printers you find in craft shops.


As you are in U.K. couple of possibilities, (1) contact Lawrence Art Supplies, Hove Sussex, well listed, in business for a long long time and a mine of info and supplies, and (2) if you like to access Me via normal B.P. route, I will happily send you a small, possibly helpful pack, to include Proper Tympan, (oiled manilla) packing top sheets, exact size for the 8 x 5, several litho plate underlay sheets, (always accurate thickness) and several Litho *Blanket* sheets, as/for underlay packing experiment, hopefully corroborating and enhancing, Platenprinters suggestion above.

A long time ago, (before Litho Blanket as Underlay) 2/3 thickness,s of blotting paper achieved better results, but eventually collapsed, Litho Blanket withstands many, many, Impressions/footfalls,?

Thanks so much for all your helpful replies - she’s going to have another try at the weekend with some additional packing in place and see how that goes.

Great video Platenprinter, thanks for the link.

The cd sleeves are these ones;


Which are listed as suitable for letterpress but I know that probably doesn’t mean an awful lot!

The print is bang in the middle of the sleeve and they’re unfolded at the moment so no seams or overlaps.

She’s using metal type, and some old offset ink we were given, but the ink and type seem fine on just standard paper so i think you’re right about it being either the sleeves or the packing.

Mick on Monotype, I’d forgotten about Lawrences, we’re actually not far from them so I might pop in or give them a call, thanks.

And thanks for the offer of backing sheets etc, I might drop you a PM if she’s still struggling at the weekend.

Thanks again for your help everyone, lets hope she can get it sorted - she still has to do the track listing!

Printing on kraft paper is a bugger, you’re right. When I did our first CD sleeves, I wasn’t aware of dampening paper - it might be worth giving that a go. The ‘spray each sheet with a mister and leave in a plastic bag for a couple of hours’ approach might be worth a go. I would have tried that if I’d thought of it.

Hard packing and quite a strong impression will get you a long way (without straining the poor little Adana, of course).

Thanks again for all your replies, she’s now tried pretty much everything but still no joy so sadly she’s moved to doing it digitally.

I think I’m more gutted than she is, they would definitely have looked much better letterpressed.

Thanks again though, I think next time we’ll seek out more suitable paper to work on!

You might keep in mind that the fact that it is kraft is not necessarily the reason why you can’t print well on it. It has more to do with the rough and absorbent finish of the paper the sleeve maker happened to pick, to make the sleeves out of. Whether the paper is kraft (ie made by the kraft papermaking process), SBS (solid bleached sulfate), or some other type of paper, is relevant but not the only factor.

The majority of kraft paper is used for making corrugated boxes, either as linerboard (the inner and outer surfaces of the corrugated), or medium (the fluted inside of the corrugated). Linerboard is printable, but not that smooth. Since linerboard is so plentiful, the sleeves may be made of linerboard, or a paper like it.

If you want a nice smooth kraft paper, look for MG (machine glazed) kraft. Here is the definition of MG:


If you want an example of MG kraft, here is a european paper maker which makes it:


Hope this helps…..