Tuesday, 16 December 2014

OUGD504 Studio Brief 04 Augmented Design Study Task 13 Print Finishes

Because I got tonsillitis at the end of this term I managed to miss the last two days of college and as such have to catch up on the tasks set when I was not in the studio. I talked to some class mates and they provided me with a few images of a book they found in the library that was most useful. However,  even though the study task asks for primary resource usage to find examples, I argue that books archiving design are not primary resources anyway. So, I have looked at the images of the book and done some of my own research to fulfill the study task


Varnishes are used to reduce or accentuate particular items on the printed page as well as improve durability of the item. Gloss varnish gives a shiny coating which tends to heighten the impact of photographs or particular design elements on the page. Matt varnish gives a smooth look that doesn’t reflect the light (which can heighten impact in brightly lit areas where reflections might obscure the cover messages). Silk varnish sits between gloss and matt varnishes.

I also found and interesting comparison of laminating and varnish finishes at a commercial level.

  • Pros
  • Can provide both gloss or matt finishes, as well as luxury soft touch
  • Will make the product more durable and long lasting, and resists tearing
  • Eliminates cracking of ink on folds
  • Will provide a degree of protection against water or grease
  • But
  • Can’t be used on lightweight papers below 135gsm
  • Is more expensive than varnish
  • Can only be used to cover a whole page, specific areas can’t be picked out to laminate
  • Matt varnishes particularly over darker areas are prone to marking
  • Pros
  • Also available in matt, gloss etc
  • Visually looks very similar to laminate, but is considerably cheaper.
  • Can be used on a wider range of paper weights than laminate.
  • Can be used to “spot” varnish small specific areas, but this does involve extra cost
  • But
  • Whilst offering  some protection to the printed product, paper will still tear
  • Won’t eliminate cracking when the paper is folded
  • Is not as durable as a laminate or as resistant to liquids

 Above is gloss varnish and below is a matt finish varnish.


Lamination adds a layer of protective coating (usually some type of plastic), often glossy or matte, to the printed surface while also improving its sturdiness and water resistance.
Lamination also has the added benefits of improving the tactile feel of the of the printed surface, lending it a smooth finish.
If a high gloss laminate is applied to the printed surface, photos and images appear to have more contrast and have better sharpness, as shown below:

Lamination is not unlike varnishes. However, whether lamination or varnishes are to be used in a project is wholly dependent on your needs and your desired outcome.
Typically, lamination is used if sturdiness is required such as for business cards and soft covered books. Also, in my experience, lamination tends to be one of the more expensive print finishes.

Spot UV

Spot UV is applied after the actual design has been printed in the regular fashion. Printers that offer UV gloss will have a special bit of kit that locates the exact position for the varnish and applies it before bombarding the varnish with UV rays to finish the process off. The result, as explained above, is a very special printed product.

You don’t actually need to do anything special to your design when anticipating the use of UV varnish. It is simply a matter of specifying to your print supplier exactly which sections of artwork are to be covered. Technology takes care of the rest.

What is certainly worth noting here is that spot UV gloss is not a cheap or quick process. The actual application can add one or two working days onto your turnaround time. This is simply because each piece of the printed design must individually passed through the spot gloss machine. This is labor intensive and a very specialized process so unfortunately the cost does ramp up quite a bit. You should certainly consider when setting out whether or not this is worthwhile for your product. Nevertheless, it certainly does convey a sentiment of super luxury and does work well for printed business cards, magazine covers, brochures and flyers. But you need to make sure this added cost is justifiable. Get in touch with StuPrint.com to get a quote for your spot UV gloss. We currently only offer this print finish as a bespoke product.

Foil Stamping

When a specific area of a digitally printed document requires an elegant, non-tarnishing metallic finish, it is easily accomplished using a process referred to as foil stamping or hot stamping. The reproduction of graphics such as logos, polished metal, or highlighted spot areas requiring a high quality reflective image can be effectively achieved by using foil films rather than metallic inks for the end result. Metallic inks, which are similar to standard printing inks, provide a rather subdued, simulated metallic appearance. The natural tendency of the ink to be absorbed into the stock contributes to a somewhat dull appearance in the desired metallic effect; however, true metallic foils are not absorbed into the substrate and therefore provide a much more realistic and pleasing metallic finish.
The foil stamping or hot stamping process (as it is called when heat is applied) is accomplished with the use of a metal plate that has been engraved with an image of the desired design required for the particular application. The plate strikes a roll of foil film, which causes the foil to adhere to the plate. The metal plate then strikes the substrate that is to be imprinted and transfers the foil onto the area of the document requiring the metallic effect. The result is a document that has a highly reflective image with a bright and dense metallic appearance.
A wide selection of foil colors, finishes, and effects are available for foil stamped documents. Standard gold and silver metallic finishes are most often used, but a wide range of other colors are used to provide a reflective metallic effect. Marble, leather, wood, snakeskin, and pearl effects are among the variety of finishes that are available and other effects, such as geometric multidimensional patterns, are used for a wide range of digitally printed documents.

Source: http://digitalprintingtips.com/printing-tips/t-30-554/foil-stamping-processes.asp

Embossing and De-bossing

Embossing and debossing are two separate processes sometimes mistaken for each other. Embossing makes things stand out – literally, whilst debossing leaves a lasting impression. 
Embossing uses a female die and a male counterforce to press the material to raise the details to be embossed.


At Windmill we use some of the best dies available and incredible detail can be achieved. It is a process that has been improved as technology has developed. Debossing involves pressing an image into the material and does not require a counter force. It is similar to foiling but no foil is applied.
Pre-printed and foiled details can be embossed/ debossed in perfect register. Alternatively a "blind" image can be impressed on the material for a more subtle effect. Both embossing and debossing add an element of touch and feel to a product and are sure to impress!



Perforations allow a document to be separated into smaller portions of the whole and they allow a document to be folded easily (similar to the function of a score). In terms of printing specifications, perforations are classified according to bursting strength or tpi, which refers to "ties per inch" or "teeth per inch."
Burst and Tear Strength
  • The burst strength is a measurement of the pressure (as measured with a burst strength gauge) that is required separate a document at the perforated location(s).
  • The tear strength is the resistance that a perforation offers in preventing a document from separating at the perforated location(s). This also correlates with the physical effort that is necessary to separate the document at the perforated location(s).Tear strength can be categorized as "light release," which is easily torn; "medium release," which provides moderate tear resistance; or "stiff release," which provides the greatest resistance to detachment even after the document is folded at the perforation and is subjected to rough handling.
The purpose and function of a perforation often determines whether the perforation is to be an easy release variety (3 to 6 TPI) or a stiff release variety (10 to 18 TPI). The weight and thickness of the paper stock also affects the burst strength.

Source: http://digitalprintingtips.com/printing-tips/t-30-550/applying-perforations.asp


Duplexing is a process where two or more sheets of equal weight are press laminated to create a permanently bonded material. Robust and distinctive, colour combinations can work to great effect especially when a contrasting colour is shot through the middle layer of a triplexed sheet. Produced by our skilled team on specialised machines, duplexing can start from two sheets of 175gsm up to our current tested threshold of six sheets of 350gsm paper (2100gsm). 

Source: http://www.gfsmith.com/our-services


Step 1

Note: prior to this phase the transfer of ink to paper needs to have been made by any printing technique that ensures the ink is still wet, such as letterpress. Pigment inks are usually used for thermographic printing because they are slow drying.
The first process of thermography involves the application of a powder commonly known as embossing/ thermographic powder. Made from plastic resins, the powder coats the page and attaches itself to the wet ink (the areas selected for embossing).

Step 2

The substrate moves from the powder stage on to the vacuum process where the excess powder is removed from the paper, leaving only the inked parts coated and ready for the final stage.
The removal of excess powder is not always done with a vacuum. Instead there are some machines that use a combination of vibrations and a conveyor belt with runners that alter the orientation of the page (from horizontal to vertical) to allow excess powder to deposit into a sump, which is recycled and applied to following application processes in step 1.

Step 3

Once the powder has been applied and the excess removed, the substrate finally reaches the transforming process where it is passed through a radiant oven, exposed to temperatures between 900 and 1300°C (Wikipedia) for 2 to 3 seconds.
As it passes through the oven, the substrate rises in temperature, causing the powder-coated elements of the page to melt and transform until they look shiny, raised and slightly bubble-like.
The printed product then continues along the conveyor belt to cool once taken away from the heat and deposited in a paper collection tray of some kind. Some machines have a fan to cool the substrate as it exits the oven, however, this is not entirely necessary as the melted elements begin to dry and solidify once removed from the heat of the oven.

Die cutting

Die cutting is a process used to cut shapes from paper, cardboard, plastic and many other materials. From business cards to food packaging and labels, most printed items that we come in contact with every day have some form of die cutting. The next time you are running around the supermarket have a look at all the different shapes that can be created by die cutting.

To create a die cut, a cutting forme has to be made first. These formes are made from sharp metal blades which are bent into the required shape and mounted to a strong backing, which is usually wood. The material being cut is placed on a flat surface, and the die cutting forme is pressed onto the material to cut it.

Source: http://curiousdesign.ie/2011/07/design-a-to-z-die-cut/

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a way to cut precise patterns in metal, plastic, wood, and pretty much any other material you can think of. A way to avoid human error, more and more designers are turning to laser cutting machines to implement a precise design on a workpiece.

A laser cutter is essentially a powerful laser beam that is produced inside a machine. It consists of a sequence of mirrors which direct the laser beam onto the material to be cut. As the laser beam strikes the material it cuts it by using an intense heat which vaporises the material, leaving a polished face. Then motors move the mirrors to adjust the cutting position while the laser supply remains stationary. This maximises movement speed and enables the laser cutter to cut straight lines and smooth contours. The power setting can also be reduced so that the laser beam doesn’t cut completely through the material, enabling engraving. Laser cutting is suitable for cutting plastics, woods, paper, card, cork, foam board, fabric and many other materials. Laser cutting can also be done on metal and glass but a more expensive laser is needed for these materials.

Source: http://www.mr-dt.com/manufacturing/lasercutter.htm

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