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What is Spot UV? And, how is it different than Raised Varnish?

If you’re familiar with print techniques or have used a print shop before, you might have heard about a treatment called Spot UV. And, if you haven’t, don’t worry—we’re here to help break it down.

Spot UV printing uses ultraviolet light to cure (or dry) a clear gloss finish to your print product. This process adds an element of shine as the clear coating catches the light and the eye of potential customers. Commonly found on business cards, this technique can also be applied to packaging, posters, labels, or almost any other kind of printing.

For best results, Spot UV is usually paired with matte paper or paper that has been treated with a soft-touch overlam. This contrast creates a unique dynamic that stands out from standard printing methods.

One of the most common misconceptions of Spot UV is what you feel on the paper is slightly raised from the rest of the print—allowing you to create a 3D-like gloss and accentuate certain areas. However, for this effect, you need Raised Varnish.

Raised varnish allows you to print textures—engaging your audience with the sense of touch. These textures, when correctly done, can create a 3D-like look to your print. For example, look at the picture of a lightbulb below. It’s a great picture, right? You can see the edges of the glass and the crystal clear red-yellow spirals of the filament.  All-in-all, the picture does its job.

Now, look at that same picture of a light bulb with the added raised varnish effect. In this situation, you’re not only looking at the same sharp edges of the glass, but you can also feel it.


Think about it like this. In school, teachers tell students to take notes—writing down the key information they see on the board. By doing this, teachers are engaging three of the student’s senses. They are hearing the message from the teacher, seeing it on the board, and feeling it as they transcribe notes on paper. All of this to increase the amount of information they retain in the long run.

Similarly, in an article done by Young Entrepreneur Council Inc., it talks about the importance of showing and telling your customer—activating as many of the senses as possible while trying to make the sale. For instance, if a potential customer is reading through your brochure, they are visually engaged in the text and pictures. But, if you add raised varnish, readers are now not only seeing why your brand or product is the best, but they can also feel the quality difference that sets you apart.

Using the Senses to Help Business

Business-to-Consumer (B2C) 

If your products are sold in a department store environment (Macy’s, Belk, etc.) it can be tricky to control external factors such as: where you are in relation to your competitors, is the store well taken care of, and if the associates are friendly.

This is where you need to remember: focus on the things you can control. Things such as your packaging and point-of-purchase (POP) displays. Be sure, with both elements, you are creating pieces that stand out.

Consumers are exposed to thousands of advertisements daily—how are you engaging them that sets you apart?

With packaging, it could be the use of soft-touch packaging or raised varnish and foil embellishments. If you want to brand yourself as environmentally friendly, consider a paper that has been (or can be) recycled.

It’s all about creating the ideal customer experience.

Business-to-Business (B2B)

If your business is more B2B focused, there are several collateral pieces that leverage raised varnish print technology. Business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, rack cards, and so much more are all essential items in running a business. And, with each of these items, is the opportunity to create dynamic printed pieces that catch people’s attention.

To get started:

1) Let us know what kind of project you will be printing. (

2) If you already have artwork, our in-house graphic designers will provide recommendations for what could be embellished or accentuated with raised varnish.

2b) Or if you don’t currently have a design, we’re here to help! Our team of expert print designers will work with you to efficiently maximize the power of raised varnish.


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