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Knowledge Base

What is Varnish? (for Packaging & Print)

Varnish – according to its industrial classifications – can make a big difference to printed paper and packaging. Its application on paper is similar to ink, as it helps enhance the visual appearance of the print or packaging, via the printing press.

Types of varnish

Gloss: Produces a smooth surface, the process often applies gloss over the full surface area or in specific areas. It creates a special as well as a contrasting effect while increasing the depth of color and detail. But it also results in a reflective surface that may interfere with the readability of text.

Matte: Matte varnish creates a smooth surface and a soft, subtle appearance. Being a non-reflective surface, it makes text easy to read. If you’re looking for a dynamic effect, you’re better off sticking to gloss. However, a number of effects are possible with this type of coating. Also, like spot UV coating, matte varnish can be spot applied with a high level of precision.

Satin: A combination of matte and gloss varnishes, satin varnish strikes a balance between medium shine and reliable scuff resistance. The effect of satin varnish allows for a subtle aesthetic. It almost appears like there is no protective coating on the printed medium.

Strike-Through Matte: Strike-through refers to a technique in which both matte & gloss varnish is coated on the same printed area. A matte varnish is first applied to all areas of a coated sheet with the exception of those where a glossy effect is needed.

A high gloss AQ coating floods over the entire sheet to allow the matte varnish ‘strike-through’ to the surface and leaving the glossy areas to shine. The intention is to create a visual distinction between different areas of the press sheet.

Varnish – Advantages and Disadvantages

Varnish increases the perceived quality of the product. It is also an inexpensive and user-friendly process that can be easily applied to such as adding spot finishing or additional processes across the entire sheet. It has the ability to be manipulated to get the desired end result. 

However, it offers a lower degree of protection in comparison to aqueous coating and UV coating. They are also susceptible to yellowing over time. Varnishes are also not particularly eco-friendly and need a careful application to prevent the release of toxic compounds into the atmosphere.

Instead of a singular process to produce varnish printing, there are different methods to achieve different results. For instance, in wet trapping, the varnish applies the wet ink in-line for thorough registration. In contrast, dry trapping involves drying the ink and putting it through the press twice in order to print the varnish.

Other coating options are: UV Coating & AQ Coating

About author

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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