Get an Early Start to the Best Finish
John Meyer, director of operations for Cohber Press, suggests that publishers familiarize themselves with CoCure, which he defines as a "hybrid mix of both conventional and UV chemistry. It gives very good gloss-level readings that are in some cases—depending on your stock choice—as good as lamination or full UV . . . coating that's water resistant and affords a good level of protection."
"Laminating will give you the most protection, followed by UV coating, then aqueous coating—last and least, varnish. I believe aqueous coating will work in most cases; it gives good protection and rub, and is the most economical [finishing option]," explains David Thoms, pressroom supervisor at Integra Printing.
While perhaps not the best finishing choice for books destined for a life of above-average wear and tear, varnish does offer minimal protection against minor scratches, fingerprints and smudges, in addition to possessing some aesthetic qualities. A varnished surface has a different tactile property than an uncoated sheet or board, and in some cases, varnishes may be tinted to add a hint of color to images beneath surfaces.
Varnish may be applied in-line very much like inks are applied to paper. It may also have a dull, satin or glossy finish, which will affect the printed images and text underneath, due to the unique ways in which the different finishes reflect light from the surface of the printed piece.
Dull varnishes, for example, can reduce glare; while satin finishes produce a slightly muted, smooth overall surface. For heightened impact, varnishes can be applied in spots to showcase images or important text, such as book titles and author bylines.
As with any other finishing technique, applying varnish takes time and costs money. Publishers and printers must plan ahead to budget line items and additional cycle time. "When problems do occur, they're usually the result of introducing a varnish as an afterthought, particularly as a remedy for oversights or complications in paper choice or presswork," cautions Sappi in its online resource guide to varnishing techniques (www.ideaexchange.sappi.com).