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The Soft Touch Coating: gently does it

As we discussed in our last post, a coating is a really cost-effective alternative to lamination. “But what is the difference between coating and lamination and why bother if a coating is second best?”, we hear you cry.  Well, here goes…

Laminating is literally an ultra-thin plastic layer on the surface of the paper which protects it from the general rough-and-tumble of life such as scratches, the odd coffee-spillage and those awful dog-ears. In the case of soft touch lamination, it also transforms the whole ‘touch’ experience with a velvety feel.

Coating provides the basic ink protection a bit like a varnish. It isn’t quite in the same touchy-feely class as laminates but it’s still a step up from the standard paper finish. And the main benefits over laminating are cost-efficiency and environmental impact. Coating is applied during the litho print process so is minimal additional cost, whereas laminating is a secondary process. And as a coating means that the paper isn’t smothered in plastic it’s still environmentally friendly too.

This is the second in our 2016 review of the coating range so stay tuned in to our monthly Highlights…

As you probably noticed, print finishes aren’t the easiest things in the world to explain in words so we’d prefer to send you a sample pack.


What do we recommend for soft touch coating printing?

  • Luxury brands, products and services
  • Brochures, direct mail, booklets, catalogue covers
  • Most effective visually on silk paper and on darker colours
  • Low-cost alternative to soft-touch lamination

Our print experts on what to look out for with soft touch coating:

“Remember that any coating is going to affect the colour slightly. So if you’re comparing against one of our pre-production proofs you’ll notice the variance. If you’re going to use any coating, it’s best to use it consistently so as to avoid your corporate colours varying. This is most important where you have large areas of particular colours and especially blues.”

Our marketing wizards have a word for you too:

“Like the matt coating, soft touch coating is a cost-effective alternative to soft-touch lamination. We’ll admit that the laminate version is unbeatable for it’s velvety luxury but if you’re looking to maximise a stretched budget, this may well be a good move.”


Machine coating is similar in essence to a varnish – it’s applied inline (IE on the litho printing press) after the ink is laid on the paper. This is the reason it’s far less costly than lamination, because it doesn’t involve a secondary process. It’s a wax oil that coats the entire surface of the paper to protect the ink from scuffing or transferring.

If you want to feel soft touch coating and compare it with the lamination, take a look at the April leaf in our 2016 calendar. If you don’t have one to hand, just ask and we’ll post one to you right away.

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Simon Besley

Author Simon Besley

Sales & Marketing Director at Newton Print. Simon works to develop and grow the business, heading up our sales and marketing department so he knows everything there is to know about creating unique packaging.

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