Printing Lingo: What is Spot UV?

What is Spot UV Printing?

Spot UV is a technique used in printing that involves applying a glossy and protective layer to specific areas of a print material. This process utilizes polymer resin and ultraviolet light to create a hardened and shiny finish. The UV coating is applied to the desired areas and then exposed to ultraviolet radiation, resulting in a durable and glossy effect.
a spot uv printed page

An example of a large logo created with the Spot UV technique in lieu of ink

The Spot UV Process

Spot UV refers to the application of this UV Coating to a specific area (or areas) of a printed piece rather than coating the entire surface. Used primarily as a design technique, Spot UV is a creative way to add depth and contrast through varying levels of sheen and texture. The process is relatively straightforward.

  1. Preparation of Mask Files: In spot UV printing, the first step involves the client providing a mask file. This file contains precise instructions on where the UV coating should be applied. It's important that this file is in black and white only, with no gradients, blurs, or shadows. The design should have clean, sharp edges for the printer to follow accurately.

  2. Applying the UV Varnish: Once the mask file is ready, the process moves to applying the UV varnish. This is done using a die-cut template which ensures that the varnish is applied only to the specified areas. A thin film is also used over the sheet during this process to ensure precision in coating only the desired spots.

  3. Instant Drying with UV Light: Similar to standard UV coating, in spot UV printing, the sheets with applied varnish are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) lamps. These lamps instantly dry and cure the varnish, creating a distinct glossy finish on the specified areas.

  4. Design Considerations: In spot UV printing, less is often more. Designers typically focus the spot UV on key elements of the message or artwork to create a contrast with the rest of the unembellished surface. Overusing spot UV can lead to a cluttered or overly ornate appearance.

Because the Spot UV technique creates a very distinctive look, it is most often used on pieces that are promotional in nature-�such as brochures and presentation folders. It is also a popular choice for high-impact business cards and book covers.

Spot UV can be applied over inked images to enhance a printed design. Or, it can be applied directly to the paper substrate to create the design by itself, without the use of any ink. If applied directly to the paper, Spot UV offers the best contrast when applied over a darker substrate. In fact, a very popular finish combination is a high-gloss Spot UV over a dark, matte stock.

If you have any questions about Spot UV or have an upcoming project that would benefit from Spot UV enhancement, give Formax Printing a call at 866-367-6221. Or, if you already know your project specifications, click here to access our simple quote request form. We look forward to assisting with your next print project!

Take care! Rick

About the Author

Rick Stallings is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Rick is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221 or by submitting our easy quote request form. Rick and the Formax team have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

Does an Outstanding Job

Formax Printing does an outstanding job printing anything and everything we send them. But the biggest reason I go to them time and again is the customer service. Our...

- Cynthia P, Primary & Secondary Education

We Consider Formax a Partner

We consider Formax a partner in every sense of the word. The staff is a pleasure to work with, and their attention to detail is greatly appreciated! Whether a large order...

- Becky R, Charitable Organization

They Exceed My Expectations

Formax knows everything about printing so I don’t have to. I have been working with them since 2000. As the Marketing Coordinator of a small company, I wear many...

- Cheryl M, Industrial Heating Equipment

More Testimonials
Know your Specs?
Use our Quote Form
Ready to Print?
Upload your Artwork
Have a Question?
Check out our FAQ
35+ Years In Business Centrally Located in the United States 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Contact Formax Printing

Contact us with questions or to discuss your print project. If you are ready for a quote, please click here to access our easy Quote Request Form.​