The Softer Side of Print Finishing Methods

Where you wish to give printed materials a quality look and feel, the soft touch print finish is usually the best way to do so. The terms ‘soft touch’, ‘soft feel’ and ‘velvet finish’ are usually used to describe any method of print finishing which produces a soft feel to materials. This kind of finish can be applied to virtually any material and used for any purpose, including brochures, book covers, and even product inkjet labels.

The feel of soft touch finish is a distinctive one, and its descriptions are as large in number as the many individuals who have touched it. To some, the soft touch finish is similar to suede. Others describe it as having a similar feel to velvet. Whatever the description used, a common opinion among most is that the soft touch finish is very noticeable on both the visual and tactile levels.

Soft Touch Application Methods

The soft touch finish can be applied as a film or as a coating.

Soft touch film is matte plastic which has been specially textured to provide a soft feel. The film is applied in such a way as to bond it to the material being printed. Soft touch film can be applied wet, or via thermo-lamination. Wet lamination sees the film being stretched over the material being printed using transparent glue. Heat and pressure are then applied to bond the film to the surface.

The process by which the material being printed is applied as a coating is called thermo-lamination. Using heat-activated glue, this kind of lamination bonds the coating to the surface of the material via the combination of the melting of the glue and pressure.

The soft touch print finish has no glare due to its low amount of light reflection. Because of this non-glare surface, any images which exist on inkjet labels or other printed material take on a harmonious appearance. This type of finish also tends to provide materials with a simple, yet elegant look.

Does One Cost more than the Other?

Most commonly, the soft touch laminate option tends to cost more than the coating. However, if the product being printed requires additional durability, soft touch laminate can provide it.

Reconciling cost with Usage

A soft touch finish can certainly impress. However, when the product being printed will have temporary use, such as a brochure advertising a special event, there may be more ideal choices available. Before deciding on a print finish, it can help to look at what needs to be printed and decide how much of its existing information is permanent.

For example, even if a brochure is advertising an upcoming event hosted by a business, it may contain information such as hours of operation, menus or a calendar containing more than one upcoming event. Where any of these are the case, it can be beneficial to use the soft touch coating so that printed information can withstand the test of time and wear due to travelling from pocket to home.

A More Durable Alternative

Where it’s suspected that materials will endure a lot of impact, another finish called anti-scuff may be the more practical choice. This type of finish offers the same matte quality as a soft touch, but with added durability to protect against damage. Another benefit of the anti-scuff finish is that it prevents documents and labels from curling at their corners, which can lead to creasing.

When advice is needed about which print finish is best for your materials, the best person to speak to is one well-versed in the world of print finishes: your professional printer. Not only are they likely to have several kinds of print finishes available, but they will also be able to communicate the benefits of each one.