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What is UV (Ultraviolet) coating?

Of the multiple surface treatments, UV coating is one, widely used to achieve visually pleasing printed products, from business cards and brochures to postcards, folders and packaging. Let’s look at the technique in detail.

UV (Ultraviolet) Coating

UV coating is a compound applied to the paper surface and cured using ultraviolet radiation. Compounds commonly used for coating include calcium carbonate, kaolinite and polyethylene. They are added to viscosifiers to enable strong bonding with paper.

UV coating is applied offline using silkscreen. UV varnish is a liquid applied inline to the product on press, and usually used to highlight specific areas of a page, such as the images, logo or slogan.

What is UV coating commonly used for?

UV coating is a versatile technique that can be utilized for all types of paper products. That being said, it works best for thicker and heavier weights of paper. You can also choose the extent of reflectivity you desire from your packaging, business card or brochure surface.

Types of UV coating

Depending on the appearance and feel you wish to produce with your UV coated printed pieces, you can consider the following solutions:

Gloss UV

UV coating produces the glossiest of all coatings. If you’re looking for brilliant gloss and a striking patina, gloss UV is a good option. To avoid creating a highly reflective (and therefore less easily readable) surface and an over-the-top shine, see if you want reserve UV coating for specific areas (spot UV).

Matte UV

Matte stands for elegance and luxury. Matte spot UV can be applied to certain areas that you wish to highlight. Alternatively, you can opt for flood protective UV, which covers the entire sheet and imparts a rich, vivid effect. However, as matte UV is prone to fingerprinting, you may want to decide the direction you want to go in, based on the product in question.

Pearlescent UV

Feel your product catalog will look more dramatic with a lustrous, pearlescent glow? Gloss UV coatings with metal flecks in different colors can help achieve this effect.

Orange Peel UV

Combining a raised design with a textured finish, orange peel UV creates visual interest and a unique tactile experience.

The UV Coating Process

As mentioned earlier, UV coating can be applied inline or offline via a printer or silkscreen/roller respectively. The areas to be coated and those to be left uncoated are first indicated.

The inks and pigments used must be UV-compatible; additionally, the inks must also be hard-drying to withstand the heat of the UV radiation. After UV coating, the sheets are scored (scoring is the process of  making creases in paper to allow easy folding) and then folded.

Advantages and Disadvantages of UV coating

There are several advantages and disadvantages with using UV coating:


  • Striking & Bold
    Ultraviolet coating creates a high gloss, vibrant finish that can greatly enhance the visual appeal and perceived value of the packaging or product.
  • Scruff Resistant
    It also offers a higher level of scuff resistance in comparison to aqueous coatings and varnishes. UV coated items resist abrasion quite impressively, though the type of coating will also influence the smudge resistance.
  • Fast Drying
    Quick drying helps ensure a reduction in lead time and a more efficient process overall.


  • Chemical Burning
    Depending on the PMS color used, UV coating can be susceptible to chemical burning
  • Compromised Quality and Appearance
    If the process of printing is not set-up properly, the output of the print may come out a bit defective

Overall, UV coating provides a sheek and premium appearance to the print quality of your product and is a great choice if you want to make a noticeable first impression.

For alternative coating options, you can check out: varnish & AQ coating

About author

Mark Velarga

Mark Velarga is PakFactory's Director of Digital & Content Marketing. He writes about all things related to design, business and technology and how it serves value to customers, business owners, packaging designers and industry experts. Connect with him on Linkedin.
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