UV Coating

What is UV Coating and its Role in Print Enhancements?

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UV coating is all about the ultimate protection of your printables, supported by premium appeal. This finishing technique can be applied to various materials to elevate their printing to the next level of presentation. From business cards and flyers to brochures and flashcards, every piece can be elevated with either the process called flooding or spot UV, which is applied to certain areas. 

“The process involves a thick layer of transparent compound that undergoes a curing process using ultraviolet light, leaving behind a matte or glossy effect. This is essentially what we call UV coating.”

So why is it more significant than other finishing techniques?

Advantages of UV Coating 

  1. Enhanced Appearance

This finishing technique offers both glossy and matte printed materials and makes colours appear more vibrant with added depth and dimension. 

  1. Durability

Due to the protective layer it provides, the printables became more durable and resistant to scratches, scuffs, moisture, and fading with extended longevity. 

  1. Fast Curing Time

Unlike traditional coatings that require air drying, this technique uses UV light to cure the coating, eliminating the need for extra drying time. This results in faster production and turnaround times. 

  1. Versatility 

UV coating can be applied to various substrates, including wood, paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal, making it suitable for a wide range of printed materials such as brochures, business cards, packaging, and book covers.

  1. Environmentally Friendly 

The process emits fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than solvent-based coatings, making it more environmentally friendly. 

  1. Improved Print Quality 

The final product has intensified colours and enhanced the sharpness of images, resulting in higher print quality and overall aesthetic appeal.

  1. High End Finish

Capable of achieving an exceptionally high gloss or matte finish, providing a luxurious look and feel to printed materials.

  1. Faster Processing Speed

Due to its fast curing time, the process allows for increased productivity, printing operations, and efficiency.

  1. Compatibility with Special Effects

It gives off a unique and eye-catching visual appeal when coated with various special effects, such as spot coating, embossing, and foil stamping.

  1. Easy to Write or Print Over 

Unlike other coatings, UV coating does not make the surface too slippery, making it easier to write or print with additional information or personalization.

  1. Reduction of Smudging and Smearing 

Instant curing reduces the risk of smudging or smearing during handling or transportation, ensuring that printed materials maintain a pristine appearance.

  1. Scratch Resistance 

UV coating adds a layer of protection against scratches and abrasions, preserving the integrity of the printed design even in high-traffic or rough handling environments.

The Process of UV Coating 

A clear liquid compound containing calcium, carbonate, kaolinite, and polyethene is applied to the substrate in various ways, like roller coaters, spray coaters, or the dipping technique. The coating is evenly spread over the surface of the printed material, ensuring that the product is fully covered. 

After this, the material has to be cured, which is done by passing it through a UV lamp under which the coating is exposed to UV radiation. This curing process happens quickly, within seconds, and is done in a controlled environment.

Here, you can opt for spot UV coating or full coverage, depending on your specific requirements.

What is Spot UV?


Spot UV or spot varnish, is another term for a coating that uses the same compound mixture but is applied to specific areas of the printed piece rather than coating the entire surface. This coating can be glossy or matte and creates contrasting visual interest by highlighting certain elements of the designs, such as text, logos, or images. 

When the coating is applied to specific areas of the printed piece, the other areas are left uncoated or with a different finish. It is done by creating a separate printing plate for the mask that defines the areas where the spot UV will be applied. 

Types of UV Coating

There are several types of UV coating that can be used on a wide variety of materials and objects, some of the common ones are:

High-gloss UV Coating


This type of coating is used for a high-gloss finish that results in a shiny and reflective surface. Its excellent resistance against scratches, scuffs, and fading, along with its exceptional vibrancy of colours, make this coating the best for giving a luxurious look.

Matte UV Coating


This type is preferred to add an elegant touch with a non-glossy surface. A matte UV coat’s smooth and velvety touch suits different applications and makes the printed material more readable under various reflections. Moreover, it is perfect for enhancing the contrast of the colours and makes the printed piece look more elegant with protection against wear and tear. 

Soft-touch UV Coating


Soft touch UV coating creates a tactile sensation similar to velvet when touched. It offers a luxurious and premium feel, making printed materials stand out and leaving a lasting impression on the recipient. Soft touch UV coating also protects against fingerprints and smudges.

Textured UV Coating


Textured UV coating adds depth and dimension to printed materials by incorporating various patterns or textures into the finish. It can resemble the look and feel of materials such as leather, wood, or fabric, enhancing the printed piece’s visual appeal and tactile experience.

Difference between UV and Aqueous Coating 

People are usually confused between UV and other types of finishing coats, like aqueous coatings, when there are clear differences between them, such as:

FeaturesAqueous CoatingUV Coating
Application processWater-based applied using spray or roller system.Liquid compound coating is applied 
Curing methodIt dries through evaporation or absorption process onto the substrateCured when exposed to UV light
AppearanceSmoother, even finishHigh gloss level, vibrant appeal
Durability Provides minimum protection, less durable than UVMore resistant to scratches, scuffs, and fading
Curing timeRequires drying time before useDries instantly under UV light
Cost Generally less expensiveThe equipment and materials required are expensive 


About Stephen Fowler

About Stephen Fowler

Meet Stephen, our skilled writer at IBEX. With a degree in Packaging Sciences, Stephen brings expertise in simplifying every industry detail more efficiently. His years of experience in R&D and technical expertise have always been helpful for our audience. The best part about Stephen is that he has always provided consistent and valuable insights into the packaging industry, ensuring that our reader is always up to date with the latest practices.

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