Laminate Vs. Varnish 

When you’re planning custom materials and labels, you may get asked if you want a varnish or laminated topcoat, and here, we’ll go over this.

What a Topcoat Does 

The product labels that you have come with a variety of label layers, and it’s something that you’ll want to keep in mind. Usually, your face stock, or the label image, is not the top layer.  This is because it’ll help with protecting the label, and also enhances this performance.

There is a layer that’s above this, and it does impact the lifespan and the look of the labels there. This top portion is called the topcoat, and it offers proper protection against both damage and scuffing. It does also impact the way that the label looks as well. 

The two most common are laminate and varnish. Now, do you need this? Well, it’s not mandatory, but there is a protection there. without your topcoat, the ink will rub off this, or it’ll get scratched on the face stock. It also won’t be protected from liquids, moisture, or even oils that might be there too.

Varnish topcoats 

This is a type of coating that’s on a silicone-based sort of liquid. It’s used for labels that are indoor usage, and they’re not super resistant to the presence of moisture, and it offers only minimal amounts of protection when you’re trying to protect this from scuffing, or even smudging too.

Varnish is usually used in a gloss, satin, or matte finish. There are some common usages for this. There is the flood coat that goes over the entire label. There is the spot varnish, which is used to offer specific contrast for these surfaces too. Then, there are dimensional varnish layers, offering that 3-D dimensional effect that comes with this.

What about Laminate 

This is a type of film that’s made with polyester that offers a barrier of plastic, which is one that’s used to protect everything. They offer more texture and sheen to your label. This offers a protection that’s robust when you’re protecting from scuffing, smudging, oil, moisture and the exposure of UV rays that are here too.

Many laminates are made for specific types of applications. They come in gloss and matte, and there is also the thermal transfer, along with secondary types of printing, which is known to be serialization.

Now, you do need to choose these in a couple of different ways, based on the needs that you have.

For starters, if you need something that’s going to be used in temperatures that are extreme, or in the outdoors, you’ll want to make sure that the topcoat is made with this. Typically, lamination is better for this.

But, if you’re going to be using this for ecommerce labels, you’re better off with just using a varnish sort of topcoat, as this can definitely be cheaper in the long haul.

Finally, you’ll want to also look at the lifespan of the label. How long do you need this to exist? For the labels that are applied to plastic and glass jars, or boxes that are corrugated, varnish is going to suffice.

If you need something that is used for longer kinds of packaging, or making it almost permanent, then lamination I’ll be the best way to help boost the appearance of this, and it usually lasts as long as the product. That means, industrial and automotive industries should just use lamination.

Both are good topcoats, but they do have different needs, and you should focus on the needs that you have, before choosing the correct product.