Aqueous coating is a clear, fast-drying water-based coating that is used to protect printed pieces. It provides a high-gloss, satin, or soft touch finish. Because it is water-based, aqueous coating is more environmentally friendly than varnish or UV coatings.
Speed Drying and Avoid Marking
Have you ever flipped over a business card and seen smudges of ink on the back? That’s called marking and it looks sloppy. Marking is caused by cutting a job when the ink is still wet. (Cutters use heavy pressure to hold the sheets of paper still while the blade does its job.) Most jobs take a couple of days to dry naturally, but some ink formulations can take a week or more if they’re just sitting. Take reflex blue for example—one of the longest to dry inks due to the cobalt that gives the ink its rich deep pigment.
If you’re thinking that you can just add a coating if it is taking too long, that isn’t always the case. If the ink ordered for your print job wasn’t designated to be “coatable,” the pigment can oxidize and change color when trapped under the coating.
Protect Pieces Handled Often
Another reason to use a coating is to protect a piece that will be handled a lot, like a business card, or go through the mail. Wouldn’t it be awful if your marketing postcard got ruined in the mail and your website is unreadable? A coating can’t guarantee that won’t happen, but it will make it a lot less likely. Outside of mailing, if you have an annual report or other high-visibility piece, your coating can keep it pristine until it is in the hands of your Board of Directors.
The best course of action when printing any job, but especially in a job that requires a quick turnaround, is to work with your salesperson and plan on using an aqueous coating from the very beginning.