What is UV Coating? Make Your Colors Pop With UV Coating for Printing


What is UV Coating?

UV coating, or ultraviolet coating, is a clear and shiny liquid coating that’s applied to a printed material. UV coating is commonly used in printing to protect packages that are handled frequently during shipping. It’s unique sheen makes colors pop more vividly, reflecting light in an eye catching way.

Why Is It Called a UV Coating?

The UV coating itself is applied in a liquid form. Then, as the name implies, the packaging is exposed to UV (ultraviolet) light, which then causes it to instantly dry and bond to the material it’s coating. This coating can be used over the entire area – a process known as “flooding” or it can be applied to certain areas, which is known as spot UV coating.  

In addition, there are different levels of “sheen” available for UV coating. High gloss UV coating is often the most popular choice, but if you need a more subdued look, that’s also possible with UV coating. 

Compared with other coatings, UV coating is more durable than aqueous coating, although not quite as much as direct plastic laminate. UV coating dries relatively slick, so if for any reason you’d need to write on the surface, print over it, glue it or apply certain kinds of labels to it, they likely won’t stick unless those areas are excluded before starting the UV coating process during printing. 

Benefits of UV Coating in Printing

what is uv coating in printing benefits

UV coating offers a number of benefits over other types of coating, including: 

  • High-gloss, high-shine finish: Deep, dark colors appear richer and can almost look wet with the right type of finish on UV coating. This vivid look is what makes UV coating a popular choice for people who want their packaging design to really stand out. Learn more about the differences between CMYK vs RGB and Pantone colors as you explore if UV coating makes sense for your needs.
  • High-clarity: Logos and photographs are ideally suited for UV coating because of its ability to make them richer and more vivid. 
  • Resistant to scuffs: If your packaging will be handled a lot, you’ll be glad to know that UV coating offers an added layer of protection, as it’s slightly thicker. It also resists accidental smudging and marking, while still looking professional and polished.
  • Dries immediately: The moment the coating hits the UV light, it dries instantly, so there’s no waiting. Less waiting means less production time, which means you can ship out and deliver your product into the hands of eager consumers faster. This is especially true for ecommerce packaging, since your packaging and product are often your only physical touchpoint with your customers.
  • Environmentally friendly: UV coated packaging material can be recycled with your other materials, so it’s not hazardous to the environment. 

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Drawbacks of UV Coating in Printing

There are a few cases where UV coating is not a good fit for your printed project. For example: 

  • If you’re using metallic ink: The metallic ink can mar the surface of the packaging. 
  • If you have weighted paper below 100#: Thinner paper may curl when the liquid UV coating is applied, even though it dries immediately. 
  • If the piece has foil stamping: This is a mixed bag in the printing world. It’s possible to get decent results because there are foil stamping options for UV coating, however, success depends on a variety of factors that need to come together precisely in order to achieve the kinds of results you want. 
  • If the piece needs to be written on extensively: As noted, the high gloss and sheen provides for a slick surface that causes most inks to simply rub off. 

Lamination, such as matte or gloss, may be perfect for your specific needs. With that said, UV coating is often one of the most cost effective and affordable options to add a layer of durability and protection to the finished box design or other printed piece. Plus, it won’t weigh down the finished result the way that other types of coatings or coverings can. 

Add a Little Something Extra to Your UV Coated Packaging

uv coating

Different types of coating make your product packaging design stand out in different ways. It’s important to know before you begin, the kind of results you want to achieve. Along with UV coating, there are certain additional options that you can include to create a remarkably different effect.

For example, spot UV coating is great when used with logos to add a layer of dimension. It naturally draws the user’s eye and their attention, so you can highlight important areas on your packaging that you want your customers to see and notice. 

Another option is soft touch coating. This adds a velvet-like, soft matte look to the piece, which gives it a touch of elegance and sophistication. 

We invite you to read more about both spot UV coating and soft touch coating in detail to learn more about how these similar methods of digital or offset printing can help add a touch of refinement to your product packaging. 

Of course, seeing (and touching) is believing, so if you have questions about how the finished product looks and feels, we invite you to request samples so that you can see the differences in all of the coating options to decide which one is best for your specific needs. 

Have Questions About UV Coating for Your Printed Packaging?

Our comprehensive A-Z guide to packaging definitions can help you get up to speed with industry terminology as you create your own custom boxes

We understand that it’s one thing to request samples and look over the different options, versus actually speaking to a packaging and printing expert to get your questions answered and get more information.

If you have questions about UV coating for your printing packaging, or other types of packaging or printing questions, we’d love to speak with you! We promise to explain things thoroughly, without the use of printing jargon and technical explanations so that you ultimately benefit from our knowledge, experience and expertise in a way that positions your packaging in the best way possible. 

UV coating is just one of the many types of coatings and printing options available for your product packaging. Contact us today to learn more about your options and let’s work together to bring your packaging vision to life in a way that attracts your perfect customer and builds brand awareness and loyalty.  

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