Tips for Choosing Print Coatings

Brush dipped in a coating. It doesn't mean getting ready for winter.

Many think that the production of a commercially printed piece involves just artwork, paper and ink. While that is true with many printed pieces, there are still more options available. One of those is the use of coatings of various types on the actual printed substrate.

Coatings are used for two reasons. One is for protection of the printed piece; if there is heavy ink coverage, an extra coating can help avoid ink scuffing, and coatings also can protect printed pieces from excessive moisture or extreme temperatures. Another reason is to provide a visual highlight and accent particular areas of the printed piece.

Types of Coatings:

Varnish - Overprint Varnish is essentially ink without pigment. It is printed on press just like an ink in one of the printing units. Although not as hard as other coatings, varnish does offer some protection; mainly resistance to dirt, fingerprints, smearing and water. Varnish can be gloss, dull, or satin (in-between dull and gloss). A varnish can give contrast and provide a visual emphasis to certain areas of a printed piece and add to design considerations.

Scratched up surface. Better coat your work. Aqueous Coating - Aqueous coatings are fast drying, water based coatings applied to a printed piece just like varnish. Aqueous coatings have better hold-out and different visual qualities than varnish, but may be more expensive. Aqueous coating can only be applied to the whole printed sheet, not in spot area. Like varnish, it comes in gloss, dull, and satin finishes.

UV Coating - UV Coating is also applied to paper like ink and then cured instantly with an ultraviolet light. UV coating can provide an extremely high-gloss hard finish that is chemical and abrasion resistant. This type of coating is available as a gloss or dull finish, and can be used as a spot covering to accent a particular area on the sheet or as an overall (flood) coating. UV coating gives more protection and luster than either varnish or aqueous coating. UV coating is usually applied as a separate finishing operation and can affect the cost of the printed piece.

When making the decision to use these coatings, consider the following:

  1. Dried ink areas (without coating) can show fingerprints and scuffing, especially in dark solids.
  2. Printed coatings or coatings applied on press cost less than coatings applied after printing.
  3. Varnish is the least effective way to prevent scuffing.
  4. All printers can apply varnish, but not all printers can apply UV coating or aqueous coating. At Metzgers, we can do all three to get the job done right.
  5. Varnish can only be done on coated paper.
  6. Coatings can affect ink color, so consult your printing professional for the best selection.

Note that coatings perform differently on uncoated paper stock versus coated stock and have different drying times as well as other advantages and disadvantages. Consult your Metzgers printing professional for the best coating option for your printed piece.

If you have any questions related to coating selection or options available to you, please send our experts an email. We are here so you can get your job done!

Tags: digital - offset

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