Should You Laminate Or Varnish Your Labels?

In the world of print finishing, two popular methods are laminate and varnish. Both of these enhance the look of everything from brochures to inkjet labels, adding shine and professionalism. They also work to protect the ink to ensure that printed information remains legible for long periods of time. But which is the better choice? Where a decision is elusive, it can help to understand the differences between lamination and varnish, as well as the benefits of each.

Lamination and Varnish

Lamination is the process by which a very thin layer of film is applied to labels. This process occurs after printing has been completed. Varnish, also known as coating, is also applied after printing has been completed. Lamination is available in high gloss, which gives contrast and sharpness to images and photos. Matte laminate is more subtle, but is an elegant option.

In the case of varnish, there are several types available. Gloss varnish tends to have a high shine, which can be beneficial where an increase in image depth is desired. Spot coating covers only certain places of a label or document. Matte varnish is non-reflective, and best used where the softening and flattening of a printed product is desired. Satin varnish combines matte and gloss for a shiny yet durable finish. Opaque varnish is often used to improve the appearance of dark colours, where an aqueous coating will render printed materials resistant to certain liquids when applied.

Where additional sturdiness is required for printed products like business cards, lamination can provide it. However, where a product needs added impact – for example a contrast between gloss and matte on a business card, varnish can be the best choice.

Reasons for Laminating Your Labels

Labels are one of many ways that a product interacts with the customer. But when a label passes through so many hands, it can become worn and faded. Lamination not only keeps your labels readable, but it also enhances their look and feel, thereby enhancing their quality.

Again, lamination is ideal in situations where added strength is required. For example, if a label will travel through many hands before reaching its destination, it must be able to stand up to wear and tear as well as any potential damage. Using lamination on your labels will also ensure they look newer for a longer period of time.

The promotion of a product can also have more impact with laminated labels. This is especially important for new products needing to make that successful first impression.

Lamination will also prevent ink from cracking. And so if your labels become bent, their printed information will not be compromised. As well, laminate provides inkjet labels with a degree of protection against damage due to grease or water.

Those looking to laminate lightweight paper of 135gsm and under may benefit more from varnish. Where budgetary constraints exists, varnish may be the less costly option. As well, laminate should only be considered where an entire surface needs to be covered. Finally, marking of the laminate can occur where it has been applied over dark areas.

Reasons for Varnishing your Labels

The wide range of finishes available with varnish offer lots of choice. As well, this option is less expensive than laminate, but offers virtually the same appearance as laminate. There are no limits to the weights of paper that varnish can be applied to; even the thinnest and lightest weight paper can be finished with varnish. Another benefit of varnish is that it can be placed in particular areas.

Although varnish does look similar to laminate, it does not afford the same durability. Therefore, any labels that are varnished can be torn easily. As well, varnish cannot protect against ink cracking when a label is bent or folded. Finally, varnish does not offer the same resistance to liquid as laminate does.

Both laminate and varnish have many benefits. And in understanding the differences between them, you can make an informed decision.

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