Print Coatings – Aqueous Coating, Spot Varnish, UV Coating
Why are coatings used on printing?
Print coatings can help your printed products stand out by making them more durable, more elegant or by bringing the reader’s attention to the right spot. Let’s face it, print is an investment of your marketing budget that needs to generate some return. Scuffed and torn mail or smeared fingerprints don’t let you put your best look in front of customers, so protect your investment with the right coating.
Types of print coating
Aqueous coating is a clear, fast-drying water-based coating that is used to protect printed pieces. It provides a high-gloss or matte surface that deters dirt and fingerprints. Aqueous coating improves the durability of postcards and other printed pieces as they go through the mail, and protects business cards as they are carried in peoples’ wallets. It also looks beautiful on brochures, catalog covers, and presentation folders. Aqueous coatings provide more substantial scuff-resistance than varnishes. Aqueous is typically applied to the entire printed piece, usually by the last unit on a printing press. Due to its water base, aqueous coating is more environmentally friendly than varnish or UV coatings.
Varnish is basically clear ink and can be gloss, satin or matte. A flood varnish covers the entire printed page for protection or sheen. A spot varnish allows you to highlight specific areas of a printed piece and adds shine and depth to specific elements on the page such as a logo or image. Varnishes are also applied on-press, but they are heavier-bodied and can be applied (like inks) to only certain areas (spot varnish). A press plate must be created to apply a spot varnish, so artwork that clearly defines where to apply it is necessary.
UV coatings are cured by exposure to ultraviolet light to quickly dry and harden the coating. UV coatings provide the highest gloss finish versus other coatings but may crack when scored or folded due to the thickness and hardness of the coating. Some find it too shiny for some uses, but it really makes photographs jump off of the page. UV coatings can be applied as a flood (covering the entire printed sheet) or as a spot coating and can be applied on or off press. Spot UV coating can be a great way to bring the reader’s eye first to your logo, or to your special offer. UV compatible inks must be used on sheets that will be UV coated. UV coated sheets can not be foil stamped and embossing should be done after the coating.
Soft Touch® Coating
This coating creates a velvety texture that exudes elegance. The paper becomes “soft” to the touch and increases the tactile appeal. It creates a softer look and feel on printed materials than either aqueous or UV coating, while creating a barrier which is fingerprint resistant. It dries fast, is non-yellowing, and is eco-friendly. Luxurious and sophisticated are words often used to describe the effect Soft Touch® coating produces.
When should a print coating be used?
In most instances a coating will help protect and enhance your final printed product. They are a must for any piece being mailed, or recommended for any product printed on coated paper that will get handled, such as business cards, brochures, bookmarks, rack cards, catalogs or presentation folders. Your printer can help you decide what type of coating is right for your project.
When should a print coating not be used?
There are certain times when you do want your paper to go naked. It may be difficult to write on coated paper, especially if it has a glossy coating. If you are ordering greeting or note cards and intend to write inscriptions on the inside make sure to specify no coating on the inside of the card. The same goes for the address side of postcards or other mailing panels unless your printer or mailing house assures you they can print addresses on coated paper (as Printing for Less does). If in doubt ask for some samples and run them through your printer or try writing on them.