Welcome to Joe Glitter’s Blog. This time around we’ll delve into the mysterious topic of Glitter particle sizes and what really defines a sparkle as “Glitter.” Most folks contact us and ask for Glitter that’s “really small.” What does that mean? Well, it’s different for everybody. .094” may be small to a set designer. .040” Hex may be small for a flooring contractor. .025” could be considered small for a school supply company, and .015” Hex may be small for a visual cue or security taggant. When most designers are looking for a small Glitter, it’s usually .008” Hex (like on a greeting card) or smaller. Let’s take a closer look…
First something about mica pearl. Mica particles, natural or synthetic, are too tiny to be recognized as “Sparkle” or “Glitter” on a surface finish. Here’s a picture of transparent mica pearls over black. The mica measures 3-9 μ magnified 200.
Mica is the stuff in pearlescent paints. For metallic looks paint manufacturers also use similarly sized bronze and aluminum powders. This is not what is commonly known as Glitter.
Glitter is precision-cut specialty film or foil typically produced in sizes .004 x .004” or larger. Here at Meadowbrook we produce Micronic Jewels metallic Glitter that is as small as .002 x .002” (50 μ). That’s as small as many larger mica pearls! Most folks wouldn’t want something that tiny even if they want a “really small” Glitter. .002 x .002” is typically used in fine cosmetics, aerosol sprays or for a metallic look in thermoplastics.
Let’s look at Glitter in more popular “really small” sizes. Here’s a picture, also magnified 200x, of the smallest popular Meadowbrook Crystalina Glitter size of .004 x .004″ (100 μ) laying atop the aforementioned mica pearls. The Glitter is transparent iridescent, like the mica pearls beneath, but the square Crystalina Glitter particles are huge in comparison:
Let’s look at the three most popular Glitter particle sizes used in most coatings, inks, finishes, and products of all types. From smallest to largest outer-dimension size; .004 x .004″ (100 μ), .008″ Hex (200 μ) and .015″ Hex (400 μ). Here’s a shot of all three at 200 x magnification. Notice that the .015” Hex is about four times as large as the .008” Hex and the .008” Hex is about four times as large as the .004 x .004” Glitter:
Here’s a picture (60x mag) of the opening on a Glitter spray paint can nozzle. This is the .004 x .004″ size and the nozzle opening is multiple times greater than the outer dimension of the particle. I’ve sprinkled three sizes of Glitter over the nozzle, the aforementioned .004 x .004″, .008″ Hex and .015″ Hex:
Notice how huge the nozzle opening is compared to the .004 x .004″ particle. The .008″ Hex may spray, but no way on the .015″ Hex, it would clog for sure. The general rule for spraying Glitter through a nozzle is that the smallest gate opening should be approximately three to four times the size of the Glitter particle.
For screen printers there are also a few important rules of thumb when selecting Glitter particle size:
– For size .004 x .004” Glitter use a screen opening of 110 mesh or larger
– For size .006 x .006” Glitter use a screen opening of 83 mesh or larger
– For size .008” Hex Glitter use a screen opening of 40-60 mesh. This is the Glitter size that is most popular for screen printing on garments.
– Once size is selected, mix approximately 15% Glitter with 85% clear base for a full-blown Glitter ink.
Thanks for checking in and reading about Glitter particle sizes. Hopefully this helps to visualize Glitter particle sizes, particularly if you are interested in a Glitter that’s “really small.”
Until next time, stay happy and don’t let anybody dull your sparkle!