What is Spot UV? Benefits of Spot UV Coating and Finishing for Printing


When it comes to packaging and printing, you’ve probably come across the phrases Spot UV Coating or Spot UV Printing

But what is spot UV, exactly? Should spot UV coating be considered for your printing? How can you print spot UV on packaging?

Let’s take a closer look at what spot UV is and why you may want to consider this as part of your printed packaging to make your products shine.

What is Spot UV?

Spot UV is a popular coating technique where high-gloss UV coating is applied to a product, by using ultraviolet (UV) light to cure the printed material’s varnish. This spot UV printing method gives the targeted “spots” a shiny, vibrant aesthetic, and adds a protective coating to the printed product.

spot uv printing on packaging

Spot UV and spot gloss are methods used in print finishing that involve putting a high-gloss UV coating on a certain area of the final printed product. 

A primary reason for using spot UV is to make the CMYK or PMS colors of your printed material shine and appear more vibrant, so you can draw more attention to that targeted area.

If spot UV finish is applied to the company logo of your custom boxes or other packaging, then your logo will have a nice, glossy sheen. This helps your brand to stand out with a more unique packaging design with an eye-catching appeal. 

This printing technique involves using ultraviolet (UV) light to help “cure” the coating that is applied to protect the packaging (gloss or varnish). Not only does this help seal in the vividness of the color, but it also adds an additional layer of protection to the finished product. UV coatings can vary from a glossy look to a highly reflective shine. As the name implies, with spot UV coating, this protective coating is only added to certain areas. 

The moment this affected area is exposed to UV light, the coating dries instantly, which lets designers get creative (and precise) with the covered area. Spot UV is a great way to lock in the shine and add a protective touch over the areas of your packaging that are most important to you. 

What is Blind Spot UV? 

Blind spot UV is often used for darker-colored packaging, however, the spot UV process for blind spot UV is similar to that of spot UV finish. The printing technique is the same, but the design steps are slightly different, providing a different creative effect to the finished piece.

How Blind Spot UV is Different from Spot UV

Blind spot UV differs from Spot UV in that it’s a different style of design approach. The method of applying a high-gloss UV coating to a specific area of the print is the same. 

With spot UV, a “mask” file is created in the design that shows where the press should add the UV coating. Most of the time, this mask perfectly matches the size and style of the logo or the area where you want to create emphasis. 

Since the spot UV gloss is clear, it can be applied to more than just the logo. For example, spot UV finish can be applied across the entire packaging even if it has lettering on it, without affecting the readability. With blind spot UV, you can see the results better on a darker background. 

If spot UV coating is used on a matte finished or uncoated style of packaging, the color under it will appear more vivid in contrast than it truly is. Black colors will look darker, as will similar colors. 

Of course, that isn’t to say that this type of coating technique won’t work for white or brightly colored packaging – it will, but the effect is different. Rather than being contrasting between darkness and light, the gloss effect will be more subdued with spot UV printing

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Benefits of Using Spot UV Printing for your Packaging

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There are several great reasons to consider adding a touch of spot UV in your custom printed packaging. Most notably, some of spot UV’s greatest benefits include: 

  • Incredible Shine: Spot UV finish offers the eye-catching and attractive appeal of a lustrous shine under direct or even more subdued lighting. It’s aesthetically beautiful and adds a touch of sophistication to any package.
  • High Clarity and Readability: Although the spot UV printing does add a glossy look to your retail packaging, each word is still clearly legible and easy to read. This means you get the best of both worlds when it comes to having a unique look that gets noticed, with easy legibility at a distance.
  • Protective Against Smudges: Packaging gets handled a lot. And although it’s no one’s fault, sometimes your design can be marred by smudges and fingerprints. Spot UV can help prevent that by offering a protective layer between the packaging and constant handling.
  • Environmentally Friendly and Safe: Because spot UV coating is so precise, the coating itself stays exactly where it’s placed and doesn’t escape into the air, making it a great option if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly packaging option. 

Are There Areas Where I Shouldn’t Use Spot UV Printing? 

Spot UV printing is extremely versatile and can be used in a wide range of packaging printing and other materials. 

Possibly the only option where it’s not recommended is on very thin packaging. Other than this, there are virtually no restrictions to using spot UV finish on your packaging box design.

Using Spot UV Printing on Matte Finish

Packaging design with a matte finish serves as a great option for a spot UV finish

Thanks to the more subdued matte background, the high gloss shine of the spot UV coating provides an excellent contract. 

This same idea can be carried over to spot UV coating as well, creating a beautiful, elegant look that adds a more refined style to your finished packaging. If you want your packaging to look premium without the higher price tag associated with high gloss printing, spot UV coating is an option you’ll definitely want to consider. 

Using Spot UV Printing on Matte Lamination

Spot UV with matte lamination adds softness and shine to the finished printed material. Because dark colors appear darker, it’s a great way to make your logo stand out and get attention when it’s added with spot UV printing. 

While you determine whether to use spot UV, don’t forget to consider matte or gloss lamination, what types of aqueous coating to use, and if embossing or debossing makes sense for your specific printing needs. 

What About Raised Spot UV Printing? 

People often request raised spot UV printing, but in the printing word, this term doesn’t exist. Instead, the phrase that’s usually meant is raised ink printing

Raised ink printing is a technique where a transparent coating is placed over certain areas of text, your logo or other parts of your design. This adds texture and style to the packaging that can be felt at a touch. 

In order to give a package design the raised ink look, powder is added to certain areas of the design or text. It is then heated which causes a chemical reaction to occur and the ink to look “raised” by transforming into a hardened gel that gives it depth and contour. 

What If I Still Have Questions?

If you have questions about how to print spot UV on your packaging, that’s understandable. After all, you want your packaging to look as professional and beautiful as possible. And Spot UV, blind spot UV, and raised ink printing are all fairly technical printing methods. 

At Refine Packaging, we understand that every customer has unique specifications and ideas in mind to create the perfect look. We invite you to contact us to learn more about spot UV coating and other techniques that can be used to help create the ideal look for your packaging. 

No matter what you have to sell, Refine Packaging can bring your vision to life. With several creative ideas and packaging that sets your product apart, we have the knowledge, experience and expertise to perfectly reflect your brand. 

Ready to think outside the box? Let's get started!

Get in touch with a custom packaging specialist now for a free consultation and instant price quote.

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