Have you ever had to choose between varnish and laminate finishes for your labels? Do you know their differences? Actually, trying to choose between the right material, finish and adhesive may seem to be quite tricky at the beginning but there are options created to help you make the best choice for your business. Depending on your business type, the impression you tempt to create and your priorities, your label may need or needn’t a coverage. First of all, let’s understand what you need a coating for. Think for a minute what kind of environment your product is more likely to appear in. There are some probabilities that it will need protection from exposure to moisture, abrasion and light, as well as things like smudges, dirt, scratching and fingerprints. So, shortly said, you need it for protection, adding a creative dimension as well as for a fancy, glossy and smooth look as long as you don’t want a natural look and want to avoid coating.

Now let’s learn about different coatings you might need.

What is a Varnish Label?

Varnishes are thin layers of silicon which are available in gloss, matte finishes or satin. They seal your label thus creating a protection layer for the ink and the label against scuffs and abrasions. Varnish is usually cheaper and less shiny in comparison to laminate but it doesn’t hold up as long as the latter does but they still create a professional and polished look by making it smooth.

Varnishes are thin coatings of clear silicon placed over top of the printed label to seal the label. A varnish will prevent from scuffing and smudging. It will also enhance the appearance of the label by giving it a more polished, professional look. A varnish will also help give the printed surface a smooth, consistent texture. Varnishes can be glossy, matte or satin in appearance.

Let’s throw a look at the types of varnishes.

Aqueous Varnish or so-called water-based varnish, protects labels from yellowing which usually happens with stored products and helps to prevent metallic inks from tarnishing. It is also a great way to protect inks against abrasion and rub resistance. Aqueous varnishes are available in gloss and matte finish and make currently the most commonly used coatings. They give a possibility to write on or be overprinted by a jet laser printer. Note that the treated paper can be recycled in standard municipal systems without emitting harmful products and the cleaning process requires no chemicals or high temperature.

Ultraviolet Varnish provides a better protection in comparison to Aqueous and has the best effect on imagine-rich products as it gives bright, rich colors a wet effect which makes it popular with certain product designs. It’s possible to apply them both on the complete page as well as on some spots. They are available in a gloss or matte and have a wide variety of specialty finishes, including glitter, tints and even different scents. How it works? Ultraviolet light is used to polymerize and harden the coating and should be used conjunction with UV inks to help reduce the potential for drying and surface problems.

What is Lamination?

Lamination provides an additional layer of protection by the help of a plastic coating making it tear-proof and waterproof. However, note that it does not really create an aesthetic appearance and for some people it appears to look cheap. Anyways, it is good if you want to create a more pronounced sheen and texture than varnish. They come in both gloss and matte finishes. Both of them are used to protect the label from scuffs but the first one gives it a rich shiny and polished finish while the second one provides the matte finish.  So, to make things clear, these are the cases where you shall use lamination:

  • If you think that your product may be exposed to moisture, abrasion and light.
  • If your product is going to be packed, shipped and shelved.
  • If your product will be kept or used in an environment that comes in contact with chemicals.

Now let’s throw a look at the different types of lamination.

Polyester Lamination is considered to be the most durable one thanks to its extreme resistance to scuffing and tearing, it is available in gloss, satin or matte finishes. It is heat resistant and won’t become fragile with time as it contains no plasticizers.

Polypropylene lamination is a pretty cost-effective option that’s why it also is one of the most popular ones. Use this version in case your product is in danger of being scratched. It is available in gloss, satin and matte finishes and is possible to write on with different types of markers. So, choose this option if you want to have a good protection at a reasonable price.

Specialty Lamination is sometimes over-printed or a golden foil is applied. This option also allows metallized films to be laminated.

Generally, depending on what you want your label to look like and on how long you need it to be durable, wither of the earlier mentioned ones may fit your needs. It also is totally fine not to need any finish. Make sure to take your goals and your budget into consideration before making your mind on whether varnish or laminate fits best for your labels. Besides, lean on a professional’s advice.

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