When you ask most printing companies for the best finish, more often than not, they’d tell you it’s AQ finish. What the heck is AQ and why is it such a popular choice of most printing houses?
AQ finish or Aqueous Finish is a vegetable cellulose coating which is applied to paper right after the inks. It produces a glossy texture that adds a bit of luster to your CD/DVD packaging, brochures, booklets, posters, or business cards (also comes in matte). Aside from making it look shiny and smooth, it protects the paper’s surface from liquids, dirt, smudges,and scratches. Aqueous coating improves durability as they go through mail and makes them look as good as new even after they’ve been “abused” by the curious hands of shoppers.
But, as you know, AQ finish is not the only finish available. There’s varnish, UV coating, film lamination, and a lot more. So how come it’s a favorite?
Here are some of the reasons why AQ coating is such a popular choice of finish:
WON’T YELLOW WITH AGE
If you’re making an item that requires a longer aesthetic shelf life (say, a Box Set of a TV Series instead of a concert flyer), then go for AQ. Aqueous coatings won’t yellow with age, as varnishes do.
Aqueous coating dries up in NO TIME. This isn’t a sales pitch since we’re not sellers of AQ coating; This is a fact. After the coating is applied, the sheets are directly sent through a heated air system which dries the AQ coating in an instant. The printed sheets can progress to the finishing department in just minutes, as opposed to traditional varnishes which may need hours or even days to dry.
When it comes to job that has printing on two sides, they’re simply dipped on an AQ coating. There is no drying time required between coating the first and second side.
This is probably one of the main reasons many prefer AQ. I mean, why would they spend big bucks on something that can’t compete with AQ when AQ is much better? Aqueous coating is the least expensive coating option. You can print multiple colors plus the aqueous coat-coating in one sheet-pass without worrying about your budget.
AQ coatings are very user-friendly with other additional finishes. They are compatible with most printing process inks. They also accept many types of glue and are works just fine with hot stamping foil.
AQ is made from vegetable cellulose and is therefore biodegradable and recyclable. The formulas are nontoxic which makes it safe for the workers as well as the recipients, and treated paper can be recycled which makes it safe for the environment. There is only a small percentage of solid waste left from an AQ run. It should still be handled with some precautions but this is much less dangerous compared to other types of finish.
WHEN NOT TO USE AQ FINISH:
Aqueous finish is all this and more but it might not be the perfect match for your project. Yes, AQ coating is the most basic, most economical, and most eco-friendly but if you want a really exceptional high gloss of UV or film laminates, then AQ is not the finish you need. There are also some things AQ cannot do: Aqueous does not protect against abrasion. It is also not solvent resistant unlike thermal lamination or UV coatings.
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