If you’re designing for print, creativity is paramount. Whether you’re working on printing beautiful advertising posters or developing eye-catching banners for all passers-by to see, the importance of creativity and thinking outside the box is vital for print design. Enter, spot UV printing. This embellishing printing style is perfect for adding texture, sheen and contrast to any form of printing for a long-lasting impact, ensuring that your customers don’t forget about you. But what is spot UV printing? And what’s the best way for you to use it? Let’s find out all about it!

What Is Spot UV Printing?

man putting printing paper into printer for spot UV printing

Spot UV is a clear coating of a tough polymer that printers can apply on top of printed items or uncoated substrates. The printer administers this polymer in a liquid form before exposing it to ultraviolet (UV) light, which dries the coating almost instantly. The specific term ‘Spot UV’ relates to the application of this clear coating of polymer to one particular area – or areas – of a piece to highlight them rather than covering the entire surface.

You can lay spot UV print over inked surfaces, unprinted stock or on some type of laminate, the latter often providing maximum effect. For spot UV to have the best results, it is usually the final step in the printing process before drying.

What’s The Difference Between Spot UV and Standard UV Printing?

embossed business cards created using spot UV

Spot UV printing differs from standard UV printing in several aspects.

Standard UV printing is a digital type of printing that uses UV light to dry just the ink while it gets printed onto the surface. Using standard UV printing allows the ink to dry instantly[i]. On the other hand, spot UV printing requires an application of UV varnish to embellish certain areas of the printed material.

Here are a few differences between spot UV and standard UV printing:

Standard UV Printing Spot UV Printing

As the stock is put through the printing press, rollers apply a UV coating to the material

A die-cut template is covered in an ultraviolet varnish, often a thin film, which can be placed over each printed sheet to ensure that only the desired elements will be covered
After the application of the UV coating, the printed material is put under either UV or infrared light to dry the coating instantly Once the varnish has been dried under a UV light, it provides a hardier coating than standard UV printing is able

Why Do People Use Spot UV Print?

volunteer handing out spot UV flyers

Printers and designers mainly use spot UV to add contrast and depth to printed items since the coating adds varying degrees of texture and sheen. Spot UV printing is a deluxe printing technique that helps leave a lasting impression, encouraging viewers to hold on to the printed piece. In addition, since the UV varnish gives a smooth, tactile finish to products, it exudes an air of luxury and professionalism that many companies would want to emulate.

When Should You Use Spot UV Printing

Many situations may call for the use of this printing technique. If you can use this printing technique right, you can expect strong contrast, enhanced quality, and delicate texture in your printed results. Here are some of our tips for when to use spot UV printing:

  • When used with a matte substance or some kind of soft-touch laminate, spot UV creates strong contrast
  • If you are applying spot UV directly onto the paper, it provides the best effect if you apply it over a darker substrate
  • Use spot UV to enhance some of the more critical elements of a print, such as your brand logo or contact information
  • Spot UV can be incredibly useful in grabbing a user’s attention if you want to communicate a brand tone of professionalism and luxury.   

Common Uses For Spot UV

Spot UV printing is a fantastic tool when used in the right way. Fortunately, many printed materials allow you to use this tool to your advantage. Here are some of the common uses for spot UV printing to inspire you for your next design:

  • Spot UV business cards
  • Spot UV flyers
  • Spot UV presentation folders
  • Spot UV brochures
  • Spot UV posters
  • Spot UV book covers
  • Spot UV slip cases

Using Spot UV For Your Business

Spot UV printing is a handy technique that all printers and designers should be aware of. Spot UV is the way to go if you ever want to embellish a specific part of a printed piece or provide your users with a taste of luxury. Happy printing!

Do you have any further questions about spot UV printing? Leave your queries in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you!



  [i] https://www.rolanddg.eu/en/technologies/uv-printing