💡 Everything you need to know about aqueous coating in packaging

To make a lasting impression on your target market, your product packaging needs to be attractive, and it must have the “wow” factor.

The coating is one of the most critical packaging elements that you need to be aware of if you want your packaging to still look its best despite multiple individuals touching and handling your products.

Whether used for packaging boxes, calendars, manuals, or other applications, the coating impacts the final look and appeal of the product.

AQ (Aqueous) coating is a popular choice because of its unique advantages, specific applications, and cost-effectiveness.

What is Aqueous (AQ) Coating?

Unlike UV coating and varnish, aqueous coating is water-based. 

Read more about UV coatings.

It is classified as the “default” coating for printing and packaging.

It features fast-drying capabilities when used during the printing process, which makes it possible to achieve different appearances, therefore, allowing a variety of application methods.

Known for being environmentally friendly, aqueous coating is used in packaging applications for:

Example of eco friendly AQ coated packaging
Source: PakFactory

AQ coatings are often used to resist fingerprints and other impurities during handling.

It is also possible to enhance surface durability with a combination of different coatings.

From a packaging perspective, the type of product will largely determine the suitability of AQ coating for your product packaging.

Cosmetic products and perfumes, for instance, contain chemicals that may make AQ coating difficult to maintain on the exterior or interior of the packaging due to risk of leaking.

Types of AQ Coatings

Gloss: If you’re looking for a less showy and more muted gloss finish, AQ coating is an ideal solution. For a high gloss, UV coating or film laminates are better options.

Matte: Consider matte coating for minimal shine and depth but a high degree of color intensity.

Satin: With an appearance that’s between gloss and matte, satin offers medium shine and excellent scruff resistance.

Soft touch coating: Soft touch aqueous coating creates a velvety texture with a mellow appearance compared to a glossy finish.

Pencil receptive: This coating is receptive to pencil, ink, and laser. It comes in handy for applications where the quality of the pencil/laser/ink marking/imprint is important.

Dry erase: An alternative to laminate, dry-erase AQ coating achieves a high gloss effect and is an inexpensive solution.

The Aqueous Coating Process

Machines apply aqueous coating immediately before printing ink on sheets.

After the application, the sheet passes through a heated air system for quick-drying, and then makes its way to the finishing section of the facility.

It’s important to note that AQ coatings are applied to the entire surface of the sheet, rather than specified areas.

Additionally, appropriate paper weight and text weight can prevent the paper from curling, wrinkling, or losing its shape.

The Benefits of Aqueous Coating

  • Non-toxic & environmentally friendly: The treated paper is easily recyclable and does not produce harmful by-products. There is minimum solid waste after applying the aqueous coating, and the cleaning process does not require toxic cleaning agents.
  • Versatile: It is a no-hassle solution when additional finishing is necessary to the print and works well with various printing processes. The coating also makes it very easy to write and print over the coating, for more variety in finishes.
  • Cost-effective: This water-based coating is mostly used in line with the printing process, delivering significant cost savings.
  • Durable and long-lasting: By sealing the ink against exposure to air, the coating maintains the fidelity of metallic inks. Aqueous coating is also less susceptible to yellowing, making it a better alternative to varnish.

Although AQ coating provides several benefits, the chances of chemical burning with aqueous coating and UV coating are higher than other finishes such as varnish.

The solvent resistance of the aqueous coating is lower than that of UV coating and thermal lamination.

Nevertheless, AQ coating is still the most popular choice for print finish options thanks to its reliable and brilliant results.

Looking to learn more about your coating options for packaging?

Contact our product specialists today and get expert advice on finishing and printing options tailored to your product!

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