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Q&A: 3 Ways to Use Varnish

(December 2015) posted on Tue Dec 08, 2015

From wallcoverings to retail, an extra touch can set you apart.

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By Robin Donovan

Digital printing and industry experts tackle your top questions, challenges, concerns, and frustrations as 2015 comes to a close:

Q: We recently installed an Agfa Titan with clear varnish. Yet to find the application for it. Any suggestions?

–Robert Lee, VP, Unicorn Graphics, Garden City, New Jersey

A: I think of digitally printed varnish as having three purposes and your Titan can do all three.

The most obvious is a flood coat where you simply apply a varnish topcoat over the entire print. This is done for a number of reasons. The most common is abrasion resistance and generally making your printed surface more durable. You should talk to your Agfa rep and find out if this combination of UV-cured printing and varnish makes a wallcovering a Type II for commercial buildings.

[Editor’s note: Agfa says the Titan’s lamp settings can be manipulated for a variety of sheen levels from glossy to matte, as well as augmenting Type II medium/heavy duty wallcoverings for projects such as museum exhibits or even shoe stores.]

The next is a spot varnish. So, say, for example, you have a P-O-P print with a pretty girl in sunglasses. You can highlight the glasses and possibly her lips with the gloss varnish to give your print a bit more sizzle. Your designers can look at images and determine what objects in the image would benefit from a gloss highlight.

The third, which I particularly like, is a varnish pattern. So, say you are producing a solid color wallcovering or other decorative piece. You can create a pattern in the print with your varnish that will change the appearance depending on viewing angle.

This is one of those selling points your customers don’t even know they want yet until you show them it’s possible. It’s up to you to use your creativity and create smashing samples your customers can’t resist. This will separate you from your competitors, which is what it’s all about.

Craig Miller, president/CEO, Pictographics

A: We also suggest that you run a few tests with products like foamed PVC, metal sheets, or styrene. It really starts with getting the three key elements together as a starting point: the graphics, the substrates, and the designer.

In terms of spot varnish, where a section of an image might have been dull or lackluster, this effect gives it some pizzazz. This “pop” of the spot varnish helps emphasize the product or items being highlighted and ultimately results in more attractive output – which could lead to better response (the more attractive the print, the more the audience will look at it – whether it’s a movie poster or an advertisement or anything else). Imagine a graphic of a beer bottle with spot varnish applied to the condensation drips or an apple with spot varnish applied to the highlights.

– Bill Brouhle, senior application specialist, Agfa

[Questions and responses have been edited for brevity and clarity. Views shared represent those of independent experts and readers.]

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