How can print be refined?

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Print enhancement includes various processes aimed at improving its properties, adding aesthetic value, increasing quality and durability.

Print enhancement and finishing include various types of coating, lamination, embossing techniques, hot-stamping, cold-stamping, gumming, laminating, browning, coating, impregnation or printing with special inks. There are really many possibilities. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular methods of print finishing.


Varnishing consists in applying a varnish on the surface of a printout or its fragments. Varnish can be uniform or selective (partial), matte or glossy, textured or glittered. Apart from that it is worth knowing that four types of varnishes are used in printing:

  • water-based dispersion (water-soluble);
  • UV;
  • based on volatile solvents (alcoholic varnishes);
  • oil-based.

The varnish layer gives the image a high gloss, increases contrast and color saturation. It also protects the printout from moisture and pollution, prevents the paint layer from rubbing off and increases the durability of the product.


It consists in pressing a thin plastic coating to paper. The coating can be glossy or matt, applied on one or both sides of the sheet.

Laminating protects the paper from moisture and also from rapid wear, creasing, dirt and damage. It does not require large and expensive equipment.

Embossing and debossing

Embossing is an embossing process using a die/pattern in which selected portions of the image are lifted, creating a three-dimensional pattern on the surface. Debossing, on the other hand, is the process of “pressing” print fragments into the substrate. This technique is often combined with hot-stamping.


This is the process of mechanically transferring a metallized layer from a foil carrier to the surface of the print using pressure and high temperature. The possibilities of this technique are extremely wide, because the foil is available in many types and colors. It can be shiny, metallic, pearl, diffractive, holographic. Each gives unique effects and can be combined with other methods of print refinement, such as embossing


A special glue is applied to print elements which we want to refine with the flexographic (or offset) method. The film carrier with the dye is then pressed against the surface – the dye fragments detach after contact with the adhesive and stick to the substrate. In the case of the flexographic method, the adhesive must be activated by means of UV lamps.


The pressing of fold lines into paper or cardboard. This procedure allows sheets to be folded without the risk of creasing and cracking the ink layer. It is widely used in the production of cards and postcards, folders, brochures and many other products. Depending on the format of the sheet and the density of the paper, different automatic or manual devices are used for creasing. Creasing is often done at the same time as cutting (for example in the production of paper folders).


It is the processing of printing products to create detachable parts. In other words, it is the creation of holes very close together. Their type and size depends on their purpose. Perforation is found on calendars, stamps, coupons, notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.

This is just a small part of the available finishing and refining techniques. When creating any printing products, you should think about using them to achieve unusual and original effects, as well as to give your prints a better quality.

Main photo: Tim Alex/

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