Here are some tips, tricks, and applications in the use of UV coatings to help a package stand out on the shelf.
Your customers are always looking for new ways to help their packages or displays stand out from the clutter. It’s retail marketing 101—visually captivating packages are more likely to get picked up at the point-of-sale.
UV (ultraviolet) coating, which can be applied post-printing and cured by exposure to UV light, is known for its ability to make packages more visually compelling. That’s one reason why it has become a popular finishing option for many packaging applications.
Aesthetic appeal is just one benefit of UV coating. With “spot” and “overall” applications available, UV’s versatility makes it perfect for a wide variety of packaging designs. Multiple UV surface finishes—from shiny gloss to understated matte or satin—are available to augment nearly any brand identity. UV coating is also budget-friendly; the application process is efficient and doesn’t involve onerous material costs.
Wielding the power of UV coating, you can help your customers create a package that achieves their brand identity goals and generates more business. Pitching them a UV coating project is easier if you know a bit about this finishing solution. It’s much easier if you also have a few design ideas up your sleeve. Here are some ideas on how you can put UV coatings to use for your next packaging project.
UV coating basics: Types and applications
The two most popular types of UV coating are gloss and satin. Gloss UV lives up to its name by featuring the highest gloss level of any type of coating. It also provides superior rub-resistance and surface protection to keep your package in excellent condition, and creates a texture that will intrigue consumers.
On the other hand, satin UV’s low light reflectance gives packages a “flat” appearance. Satin is often combined with gloss UV to produce an eye-catching contrast. Like gloss, satin offers the excellent scuff- and rub-protection.
Packages are UV-coated using a flood or spot application. Spot coating is applied to one area of the package, while flood (or overall) indicates a coating applied to the entire package. Spot UV is generally screen coated in thick amounts for maximum visual “pop” and rub-resistance. Conversely, flood is usually roller coated in relatively smaller amounts.
UV coating can add value to a wide variety of packaging applications. Here are a few design concepts you can bring to your customer.
Combination spot UV/embossing—Spot UV coating and embossing both add texture and visual distinctness to any product on which they’re applied. Why not combine these two solutions to form a more compelling package? Spot UV coating and then embossing your end customer’s brand or logo will make their package impossible-to-miss.
Apply satin and gloss for contrast—Visual contrast will draw the consumer’s eye to your package. Try applying satin and high-gloss UV coating to adjacent areas of your package. Satin UV’s low-key, flat appearance and gloss UV’s brilliant finish will offset beautifully to create an eye-catching package that won’t sit on the shelves for long.
Planning tips for UV coating success
Understanding how UV coating reacts with inks, stocks, and adhesives can help you avoid many potential issues before production begins.
Adhesion Concerns—UV coating can only adhere to ink as effectively as the ink has bonded to the package. If the ink on your package has not fully adhered, the UV coating is likely to scratch or scuff off as well.
If you plan to apply spot UV to a glued area, be sure to knock out that glue beforehand. UV also should not be applied on areas to which a UPC code or other label will be affixed.
Avoid alkalines—Inks should be free of paraffin waxes, silicones, or other slip additives. UV coatings do not adhere properly to these. Also, avoid inks with alkaline pigments, which are found in Reflex blue, Rhodamine red, PMS purple, or any dark blue-to-violet color ink, regardless of pigment. Although these inks can normally be coated, they have a tendency to bleed and can cause the coating’s color to change.
Let your inks dry—The inks on your printed package must be completely dry before UV coating is applied. Normally, 24 to 48 hours should elapse before coating. If your inks are emulsified at all, additional time may be required to ensure their dryness. Also, if the job will be coated on two sides, an extra day should be scheduled between coating runs.
Stock concerns—UV coating should be applied to a smooth stock with a clay- or enamel-coated surface. Uncoated stocks will cause the UV to dry up, yellow, and crack off.
Importance of testing and quality control
UV coating excellence requires a commitment to quality control and testing, before and throughout production. Experienced UV coating partners understand that a company’s brand image is at stake and take pains to ensure their UV-coated packages meet high-quality standards.