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Inkjet Ink, Inkjet PrintingDecember 1, 2020

What is spot varnish in UV Printing?

Inkjet Ink, Inkjet Printing
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Spot varnish in UV printing

When discussing printing techniques, many times the term ‘spot varnish’ is mentioned especially in reference to UV printing. Spot varnish simply means that the artwork will highlight certain aspects of a design with a varnish layer.

What is varnish?

Varnish is a clear ink printed over the CMYK and W in UV printing. Omitting the varnish will leave the design looking more matte. Adding the varnish will give the artwork the glossy appearance.

Is varnish necessary?

When it comes to the quality or durability of the product, varnish does not make the graphic more or less resistant to scratching or peeling off. Varnish is simply a design feature that companies may choose to use or not. Rather, durability of the print is reliant on a combination of the proper substrate, pre-treatment and UV ink combination. Some substrates will not require pre-treatment depending on the product and ink or on the adhesion properties set forth by the customer.

But why is it called spot varnish?

The spot in spot varnish simply means that only pieces of the graphic will contain varnish. For example, in the image below, a spot varnish was used. As you can see in the artwork rendering, the pink tells the printer which areas to print varnish. It is not printed everywhere, just in certain areas to showcase a new design technique. This leads into the next question which is how does my printer identify spot varnish vs. no spot varnish. By prepping your artwork and calling out specific pieces for spot varnish, you are instructing the printing where and where not to add this glossy layer.

Prepping varnish for printing

Cool design techniques that use a spot varnish in UV printing

In the series UV Cylindrical Inkjet Printer Design Features, we touched upon many features that can be accomplished using a UV printer. Regarding this article, where does spot varnish fit in?

  • Tone on Tone: Tone on tone printing utilizes the most varnish out of the rest of the design techniques. This feature literally takes varnish only and prints it over a substrate to enhance the substrate’s color or texture. For example, using varnish only on a glass item will make it look embossed. Or, utilizing it on a color will make an etched pattern. All in all, printing varnish only without the color can also make a product look classy.

Tone on Tone

  • Mirror Print: Mirror Print uses varnish on the graphic facing outside only. As a reminder, mirror print prints an image in reverse (facing inward) on glassware and then prints the same artwork on top facing outward. Since the reversed artwork will already pick-up the glossiness of the glassware item, varnish is not needed.
  • Etched and Stained Glass: Will etched does not used varnish because it is meant to literally look as if it were etched into the glassware piece, stained glass can sometimes use varnish. Stained glass simply refers to printing color without white so the item is see-through. Adding varnish on top will make it appear more glossy while no varnish will look more matte.

Have one of cylindrical inkjet printers and want to use spot varnish or any other design technique? Contact our Inkjet Tech Service Team

Interested in purchasing one of our cylindrical inkjet printers? Contact a Sales Representative in your area.



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