A Brief Guide to Print Finishing Options

A man smiling at his printed work

When it comes to print finishing options, there are countless choices to take your pick from. From laminate, to varnish, to glow-in-the-dark, the sky’s the limit! Print finishing options, which are also known as post-print effects, are often used to add the final touches to your prints to make them more aesthetically-pleasing. Whether you’re printing business cards, flyers, or invitations, these effects are sure to make them stand out while incorporating a little bit of your personal touch to the finished product. 

Choosing the best print finishing options is a great way to make an impression with your paper products. The world of print marketing is competitive, but print finishing options will help you expand your reach and catch the eye of your audience.

With the amount of printing finishing options available, picking the right one can be tricky. That’s why we created this brief guide of the most widely used finishes to help you choose what best suits your brand and product

How Will Print Finishing Options Benefit My Prints? 

Print finishing techniques add value to invitation cards, stationery, and packaging. Whether you want to sprinkle a little bit of gusto or just want to add some extra protection onto your paper masterpieces, there is a plethora of printing finishes to choose from!

Whatever kind of effect you want to achieve, there is definitely a print finish that can embody it. So once the ink dries, you can unleash your creativity!

1. Lamination 

One of the best ways to protect and preserve your prints is through lamination. This process adds a very thin protective layer to your prints, making them water and tear resistant. Laminate can come in either a glossy or matte finish. This method also makes the images on your prints look sharper, therefore this technique is popularly-used for business cards. You could also laminate any photos or posters that you might want to hang on the walls without the worry of them fading from sun exposure.

2. Embossing 

Opt for an embossing finish to add a three-dimensional effect to your prints. An embossing print creates a raised impression on your paper material. This is created with the use of a metal plate and counter. Whether you decide to emboss text or images on paper, this type of finish adds emphasis to the details that you would most like to stand out. This small textured detail also adds a touch of elegance to your prints. 

Try out this embossing print technique on your business’ logo or even on the next greeting card you send out. Being able to feel the letters or images on a print adds more sensory depth for the client or customer!

A letterpress for debossing prints

3. Debossing 

This type of finish is the opposite of embossing. Instead of giving text or images a raised appearance, debossing creates a depressed effect. It’s also referred to as “letterpress” and is one of the oldest known printing finishing techniques. Letterpress has been around since the 1400s and for hundreds of years, this was used as the main method of publishing books.

Today, it is commonly used for company logos, however, if you’re going for a vintage look and feel, choose to deboss your business cards or invitations.

4. Die Cutting 

If you like the look of rounded corners, this is the type of printing finish you need. Die cutting comes in many shapes and forms and is generally used to create custom shapes and designs for labels. This method works much like a pastry-cutter does by cutting out shapes from paper. Die cutting can be relatively costly, especially if you want a custom design instead of standard. However, with the pleasing visuals that this technique can provide, it is definitely worth having your own unique print.

5. Laser Cutting 

Laser cutting is a printing finish process that uses laser beam technology to cut out shapes on paper. With the accuracy that the precision beam provides, you can use this technique to add any shape possible to your material. This method is popularly used for that “pop-up” or ”lace” card effect. It’s one of the more creative options (aside from die cutting) because of the intricate cuts that it can create.

If you are creating personalized cake toppers or even fancy birthday banners, opt for this finish. Use this to give your print products that razor-sharp look.

6. Foiling 

To make text or images look extra luxurious, use the foiling method for your print finishes. Applying metallics or a coloured foil to your material is one of the easiest ways to highlight important details. This technique can be done in two ways: foil stamping or foil fusing.

Foil stamping requires a dye and is usually used for more complex projects. Foil fusing is a digital process that’s used for simpler projects. Some great ways to incorporate foiling into your printing finishes would be creating intricate backgrounds on invitation cards, lettering, and graphic elements.

Foiling on a Canadian passport

7. Pearlescent and Iridescent Inks 

All the colours of the rainbow can be replicated using pearlescent and iridescent inks in the printing process. When you add this type of effect to your print finishes, you’ll see an array of colours when you view the finished product from different angles and lighting conditions. It’s a great option if you want to add an artistic pop of colour to your prints.

8. Holographic Foils 

Another popular technique for printing finishes is holographic foiling. Glam up your greeting cards with this fun look or create futuristic-themed birthday cards with holographic art. The ways you can use this style are endless, who doesn’t love a little shine?

9. Spot UV 

Spot UV is also one of the best print finishing options out there to emphasize specific features on your prints. UV coating is a tough, clear coat that’s applied to printed pieces after the printing process. It’s applied as a liquid and then hardens when exposed to UV light. Choose from glossy, matte, and even glitter varnish overlays for some extra depth and contrast. This printing finish works especially well for business logos and brochures.

10. Varnishes

Varnishes are most commonly used for brochures and magazines. Just like how wood is often treated with varnish for a modern, sleek look, this method also gives paper a smooth finish. What’s great about this technique is that it doesn’t add extra weight to your material and keeps smudges, fingerprints, and scratches off your finished product. There are multiple types of varnish finishes to choose from including:

Gloss Varnish 

This is a type of varnish that reflects light. Because of its ability to make photos brighter and more vivid, it is most commonly used in brochures and flyers. 

Matte Varnish 

This is a smooth and non-glossy type of finish. It is commonly used to soften the appearance of images.

Silk Varnish 

Silk varnish is in between matte and gloss. For those who like a nice balance, this option would be a perfect choice. 

Machine Sealing

Machine sealing does not make any visible difference to print products. Its main use is to seal the ink with a protective layer.  

11. Folding 

The folding technique allows you to make better use of just one piece of paper. Businesses can use this printing finish to create brochures that tell a consumer about their brand, products/services, contact information, and more. These printing finishes are marketing tactics you should consider using to tell your brand’s story. There are multiple types of folds that you can choose from like half-fold, tri-fold, and gate folds. 

12. Edge Painting 

Don’t forget that the edges of your prints are an opportunity for beautiful print finishes! With this style, you can literally make your prints have an ‘edge’ over the others. This involves adding a layer of paint or ink to the edge of your materials. An effect like this requires the use of a sprayer or brayer and is done as the last step after the product has been printed. Any Pantone colour can be achieved with this process, even metallics and foils. You’ve likely seen this technique on books or journals, but this can be used on business or invitation cards as well. It’s a great way to add a bold pop of colour to your design! 

Edge painting with red splatters on a dictionary

13. Glow-In-The-Dark 

For a fun element of surprise on themed invitations, use a glow-in-the-dark printing finish. Also known as phosphorescent or fluorescence, this method uses light sensitive elements that absorb light energy and then re-emit them as its own light source. It gives your prints the ability to glow in a dark room; which is a quirky element that truly makes this a standout among print finishing techniques. (It’s also the closest thing to magic that we can get!) 

14. Fragranced Ink 

If you are in the beauty industry (or just like things that smell good), fragranced ink is one of the most personalized print finishing options to use in your brochures, business cards, or magazines. This extra touch is how you make a fragrant first impression. Nothing attracts consumers more than something that evokes emotion and tingles their senses. 

15. Thermography  

Thermography adds dimension to your printed items by integrating a raised edge to areas that could use a little bit of glam. This may be one of the most cost-effective printing finishes, but it’s definitely one of the most visually appealing techniques. Thermography really shines when you use it for designing logos on corporate stationeries, folder covers, invitation cards, and packaging. Most people love things that pop, sparkle, and make a big statement, so you can’t go wrong with the metallic glitter effects you get with thermography. 

16. Soft Touch Coatings 

Have you ever encountered an invitation card or perfume box that is so smooth to the touch that it feels like velvet? Well, that gentle sensory detail is all thanks to the soft touch coating technique. This type of print finishing adds softness onto your prints for a dose of sophisticated flair. 

Best in Class Printers 

Before you can apply any type of print finishing options, you’ll first need to equip yourself with a printer that can keep up with your everyday business demands and workflow.

At Busys.ca, this is our specialty. We carry a fleet of multifunction printers by industry leaders, such as Canon, Toshiba, and Konica Minolta that are specifically designed to meet the needs of your high-energy workplace.  

 Give us a call today for a consultation. We’ll help you find best in class printers that suit your business perfectly. 

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