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What is Varnish for Packaging & Print?

Varnish is a clear coating applied to printed materials such as product packaging and business cards for protection and to improve their appearance.

It can be matte, glossy, or satin in finish and is used to strengthen paper-based packaging.

Varnish can also enhance the tactile qualities and external durability of packaging.

In this article, we will introduce several types of varnishes available for use in packaging and printing.


Classifications of Varnish

There are several types of varnish to consider when working with packaging and printing:

Gloss: Gloss varnish produces a smooth, shiny surface and can highlight specific areas or be applied to the entire surface. While it adds depth and clarity to colors and details, it can also make text more difficult to read due to its reflective nature.

gift box with varnish

Matte: Matte varnish creates a smooth, non-reflective surface and a subdued appearance. It allows for easy reading of text and can be spot applied with precision. While it may not provide the same dynamic effect as gloss varnish, it can still be used to create various effects.

Satin: Satin varnish is a combination of matte and gloss varnishes and provides a medium level of shine and strong scuff resistance. It has a subtle, almost invisible appearance on the printed medium.

Strike-through matte: Strike-through matte varnish involves coating the entire sheet with a gloss AQ coating, except for certain areas where a matte varnish is applied first. The glossy coating allows the matte varnish to ‘strike through’ to the surface, creating a visual distinction between the two finishes.

Pros and Cons of Using Varnish

Varnish has a number of advantages and disadvantages to consider when used in packaging and printing:

  • Pros: Varnish can improve the perceived quality of a product and can be applied to existing designs to enhance a brand’s value. It is also an economical and easy-to-use process that can create a sensory experience for customers interacting with packaging.
  • Cons: Varnish offers less protection compared to aqueous coating and UV coating, and can yellow over time. It is also not environmentally friendly and requires careful application to prevent the release of harmful compounds into the air, unless an aqueous-based varnish is used.

The Process of Varnish

The process of applying varnish to packaging and printing depends on the design of the substrate and the desired result.

For simple designs, varnish is typically applied in a single step and cured with UV light or left to dry.

For more complex designs, such as spot varnish printing, the process may involve multiple steps, such as applying a matte varnish, drying it, then applying a satin varnish and drying it, followed by a glossy spot varnish and final drying.

Varnish is a common practice in the packaging industry, used for both protective and branding purposes. It can easily enhance the packaging experience for customers and bring standard packaging to a higher level of uniqueness.





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