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Varnishes and Coatings

All it takes to make a printed piece look elegant and professional is a coating or varnish. A simple technique with major benefits, coating completes your piece and makes your design pop. A variety of finishes are available, allowing you to choose the appropriate coating for each project.

There are three varieties of coatings: varnishes, aqueous, and ultraviolet. Each of these coatings come with different finishes, including gloss, dull or matte, and can be applied to a specified area of the page (spot) or the whole page (flood).

The main qualities that differentiate the three coatings from each other are price, drying time and environmental impact.

Varnish is the least expensive, but because it is petroleum-based, it is also the least environmentally friendly. Varnishes do, however, have the advantage of versatility. Spot varnishes are easily created because the varnish is applied on press. Varnishes can also be applied "inline" on standard printing press ink stations. If you decide to varnish your printing piece, you can prepare your document before it goes to press. The prepress work is simple, just create a copy of your document and remove the items that are not to be varnished, leaving the items that are on the page.

Ultraviolet coatings, though more expensive than varnishes, are the environmentally friendly choice. This technique uses UV light to dry and harden the coating until it produces a glossy look. This coating provides the glossiest look unmatched by other coatings and work best for high-end marketing materials.

Aqueous coatings, as you can tell by the name, are water-based. These coatings can be applied on press and are primarily used for flood coating. Aqueous coatings should not be used on lightweight paper stock because they may cause unwanted curling as a result of their water base.

It is important to remember the dual benefits of flood coating. Not only does it finalize the look of your printing piece, but it also keeps it protected. The purpose of spot coating is to make an image or design draw attention to a particular area of the page.