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Coatings and Varnishes

Not only can a varnish or a coating protect printed sheets from smudging, fingerprints,and scratches, but they can also give the designer the ability to create effects on paper that can not be produced with digital media. You can add depth, and texture to images and words which transforms the viewing experience into a more interactive tangible one. With the right design and use of these coatings you can evoke a mood or attitude, even invoke the sense of energy or calm. You can create the feeling of stones or soft satin. You can raise images off the page or give the illusion of multiple layers. You can imitate the look of practically anything, from plastic and metal to leather. The below performance chart is a general guide created by to evaluate your coating choices. When using this 1-5 guide, 1 is the least likely and 5 is most likely.

Press coatings come in two types – Aqueous which provides a better rub protection and does not yellow as time passes. Aqueous coating is 60-70% water and it’s best use is for flood coating, but it can also be used as spot coating. Aqueous dries quickly, allowing for faster back-ups, and it does not require heavier stock (60lb. text and up) to avoid paper curl. UV coating is nearly all solids and cures instantly under ultraviolet light. This coating is more protective than aqueous, and UV provides a high gloss level and accepts a wider range of specialty techniques. UV also works well on any type of paper stock. UV can also be used for spot applications. Because of UV’s high-solid levels, this coating is highly susceptible to cracking, so care must be taken during bindery.

Paper stock choices play a critical role when deciding on varnish and coatings, which in the end seal a sheet against scratches and smudges. When designing and deciding on coating techniques, it goes without saying that rough and porous paper surfaces, as well as lighter weight sheets, limit the kind of varnish and coatings processes that can be used for your desired effects. Coated papers are far better suited for special coating techniques than uncoated stock.

For more information on coatings contact Premier at

Written by Donna Moulton

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