Print finishing
12 Ways to enhance your printing

Use print finishing to take it to the next level. Having your job well designed and sharply printed is one thing but have you considered the finishing options that are available to you? There are many effects available, from holographic foils for eye-catching attention, to raised inks for great tactile feeling. Have a word with your printer as they may be able to do what you have in mind or offer helpful advice.

One very important thing to keep in mind is to speak to your printer while still early in the planning stages of your product creation as certain design procedures and paper types are required depending on the finishing option you choose. This is non-negotiable! The list below is for litho printing, if you are looking at the capabilities of flexo UV printing for labels then go to our article entitled Label printing companies history and products

1. Overall UV Varnish Coating
This is applied after the sheet has been printed. It is called a UV varnish as it is exposed to ultraviolet light which causes a reaction that cures or photopolymerizes the coating. It is used to enhance the colours of the inks and protects the surface very well against scratches and liquid. You will most commonly see a UV coating on the cover of a magazine as this needs to help the image be eye-catching to help compete against the other publications on the magazine stand. The most common finishes available are gloss, satin and matt. It can yellow over time and can be more of a challenge to recycle. If your UV varnished printing is not exposed to the open air it can have quite a noticeable odour which will lessen over time.
2. Overall AQ Varnish Coating
Also known as a machine varnish this coating is applied by the printing machine as the final process just after having printed the image on the paper. It dries naturally and is not cured, does not have a noticeable odour and doesn’t yellow with age. It is a slightly cheaper option than UV but is not as resistant to scratches. Consider this one as ideal for the inside pages of a cooking book for example.
3. Spot and decorative UV varnish
A standard spot UV is used when it is desirable to highlight pictures, text or a particular area of the print to draw attention and make the colours noticeable. Decorative UV varnishes are much like a standard spot varnish but have unusual finishes that can be visually appealing and have a great tactile feel.
4. Scratch Off
A coating consisting of resins, rubber and pigments is used to hide printed details and is often used for lottery scratch cards. They are applied using a screenprinting technique and are available in different colours. This is not usually done by your printer and will be sent to a company that specialises in this.

5. Scratch and Sniff
Fragrance encapsulated inks give a great way to help sell a product where the nose does the buying such as cooking or perfumes. It usually has to be ordered quite a while before it is needed and also check with your printer if they are prepared to print scratch and sniff ink.
6. Thermographic Ink
Also known as Verco printing, it rises slightly when exposed to high heat and then sets high. Very popular for wedding invites and diplomas as this print finishing gives an embossed look.
7. Thermochromic ink
This ink changes colour according to the temperature. A good example is the temperature sticker that is placed on the outside of a fish tank or printed onto a beer can to show that the temperature is right for serving.
8. Photoluminescent inks
Glow in the dark ink is great for printed items that would be for the child market but also has very good use in printed safety items. Best applied using a silkscreen method over the already printed item so unlikely that it will be done in-house by your printer but rather sent out for printing.
9. Die Cutting
If you have ever come across a printed product that does not have a straight edge then it will have been die cut. A sheet of plywood will have the desired shape cut into it multiple times to match the pattern on the printed sheet. A continuous blade is forced into the cut which will protrude above the wood surface. This die is then placed in a die cutting machine and each printed sheet is punched producing the desired shape.
10. Laser Cutting
The finished product is similar to die cutting but far more intricate and delicate patterns can be made. This is a slow process so only financially viable for very small runs. Once again it’s unlikely that your printer will have this as a service and will have to send it out. Be aware that unless the laser is correctly set up there can be more than the desired amount of scorching on the finished product so ask for print finishing samples to check first.
11. Foiling
This popular finish is also known as hot stamp foiling. Often used for their decorative metallic and holographic effects but there are also solid colours including dayglo and pastel which can give a surprisingly good look to your project. You will need to speak to your printer as to what they require, usually a separate PDF of the areas you want to be covered. A foiling block will then be machined or etched to match your solid areas. This is heated up and then pressed against a layer of plastic carrying the foil and in turn against the paper causing the foil to adhere to the paper and remain there when the plastic is removed.
12. Embossing
This is when the paper is pressed against an embossing block that would look very similar to a foiling block. The result is a raised effect that is very popular on formal items such as high-end invitations and business cards. The opposite effect, when the paper is depressed instead of raised is called debossing. As this process uses almost the same method as foiling, your embossed area can be foiled at the same time for a very posh look. 

If you would like to use one of these print finishing options for your next printing project then give us a call!