When it comes to printing your product packaging, there are numerous coatings to choose from. The most popular of these is the AQ finish, which stands for Aqueous Finish. Take a closer look at how this type of finish compares to other coatings, including UV coating and varnish.
Before getting into the differences between an AQ finish and other types of coatings, take a minute to understand what each is.
This water-based coating is clear and dries quickly. When applied, this coating reduces the risk of fingerprints and dirt while delivering a matte or high-gloss surface. This means that an AQ finish boosts the durability of the images on the packaging and even the printed pieces themselves. Aqueous coatings are almost always applied to the entire package.
As the name implies, UV coatings undergo a curing process with UV light. This lets them dry and harden quickly. Compared to other coatings, this type has the highest gloss in the finish. The issue, however, is that they may crack if you fold or scratch them because the coating is so hard. Like other coatings, you can apply UV coatings in strategic spots or “flood” the surface with them.
Varnish is essentially clear ink. It can have a matte, gloss, or satin finish. Covering the packaging surface with varnish provides protection while giving sheen. You can also apply varnish to specific areas of the packaging as a way to add depth and shine.
Benefits of AQ Finish Over Others
There are numerous reasons that an aqueous finish tends to be more popular than UV coatings or varnish. Take a look at some of its advantages over these other coatings.
Better for the Environment
Because the aqueous coating is water-based, this makes it more environmentally friendly than UV coatings or varnish.
Works With Other Finishes
If you choose AQ coatings, you will not be limiting yourself at all. That’s because these coatings are compatible with the majority of printing process inks. They are also compatible with most glue types or with hot stamping foil.
Compared to other coatings, the AQ finish dries incredibly fast. The process involves applying the coating and then sending sheets through a system with heated air. This system instantly dries the coating.
This instant drying means that you don’t have to wait hours or days between the coating and the next packaging step. It also makes AQ coatings convenient for any application that requires printing on both sides.
Varnishes tend to turn yellow as they get older. This can be especially problematic for product packaging that may sit on a shelf for a while. An example would be collectible packaging that consumers are likely to save. It is also relevant for any product with a very long shelf life.
By contrast, an AQ finish will not yellow with age.
In addition to all the other benefits, AQ coatings tend to be the most affordable option. This helps you keep packaging manufacturing costs low.