Coating and varnishing in flexographic printing
Flexo BasicsInks & Varnishes

Coatings and varnishes for printing inks

What are coatings and varnishes for printing inks in flexographic printing?


In flexographic printing, coatings and varnishes for printing inks are described as two sides of a coin and to execute an outstanding print project, they come in handy.

An adequate application of both coatings and varnishes give an opportunity to create a memorable impression and feel on a print project.

To create the lasting impression that you desire on your print project, you need to know which type of coating or varnish that  suits the particular project you’re working on and this is most often a tedious and confusing one for some people, most especially, newbies to the flexographic space. 

Below  are some of the most popular coating types you need to know:

Aqueous coating

This is arguably the most popular and used of the types of coating for printed materials.

It is a water-based coating that gets dried by the air unlike many other coating types. Aqueous coating is usually used on papers with a text weight of about 80# and above. This is basically to avoid curling or wrinkles. Aqueous, because of its quick drying nature, is ideal to run inline on the press.

Aqueous coatings are of different varieties and they include:

  • Soft Touch

This leaves a soft and velvety texture. It gives the piece a softer look compared to high textured coatings.

  • Gloss

This gives an opportunity for a more subdued finish. Gloss aqueous coating is a printed piece that has shine and a nice feel and also prevents scratches. 

  • Matte Aqueous Coating

The matte coating also enables a nice subtle finish on a printed piece. It gives images a bright and neat appearance and it also gives protection to the final print. 

  • Satin

A vivid look at satin coatings gives an idea that its output is between a matte and gloss coating.

UV Coating

UV coatings are liquid-based,they are applied and immediately dried with UV drying lamps. UV coatings give an extreme-glossy effect. To get the most potent result out of UV coatings, inks must be wax-free and compatible. 

Below are the varieties of effects UV coatings offer:

  • Gloss

This is one of the most used coatings by printers  in the flexographic space. It offers a clean coating with a high gloss. The gloss UV coating  also serves as a protectant.

  • Pearlescent

The Pearlescent is often  mixed with gloss UV coating to give a brilliant appearance.

  • Iriodin

This contains very small particles that make the result subtle and shimmer.


A varnish is a thin-protective layer that is applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance and it is both UV and aqueous-based. Most importantly, varnishes are a clear ink that can be dull, satin, matte, or even  glossy.

Below are the possible effects of Varnish:

  • Flood Varnish

A flood varnish gives protection to your printed piece with the addition of sheen across the whole page.

  • Spot Varnish

With the mixture of a flood coating, a spot varnish gives a great visual impression that adds depth and 

draws attention to your print.

  • Gloss Varnish

Gloss varnish gives the best result on a gloss sheet as it offers colors and images depth, drawing special attention to areas where it is used.

A gloss varnish protects areas with huge coverage from eroding and also helps the piece from scuffing.

  • Matte Varnish

Matte varnish adds a lesser  glossy look to your print iproject. It also offers your piece protection from fingerprints. Colors and images seem a little softer when a matte varnish is employed.

  • Satin Varnish

Stain varnish is initiated with the combination of both gloss and matte varnishes. This is great for protecting your project. It also offers a little iota of shine.

When should you apply a Varnish or Coatings to your  Print piece?

Coatings are usually employed with paper substrates in corrugated packaging and board or paper printing in the flexography space. Applications are manifold such as pharmaceutical packaging, boxes etc.

However, the application of inks or coating material to a package directly or with a label is to boost sales, relate information and protect the printing or the surface of the package.This involves printing, coating, embossing and decoration of the package.

The application of varnish and coatings in flexography is  to add value to printed packages which includes folding cartons, beverage carriers, sanitary food containers and so on.


It should be noted that wide web flexographic presses are used to print publications and packaging commodities. In publishing, flexography is used to print magazines, comics,comic books and even for advertising.

The total design of a package and the printing has huge effects on product sales. The essence of the design is to translate the marketer’s ideas into a printed product that would satisfy customers.

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