Printing Lingo: What is a “Soft Touch” Finish?
In printing, the term “soft touch” is often used as a generic reference to any finishing method that adds a velvety-soft feel to print materials. Unlike most design elements that appeal to the sense of sight, a soft touch finish allows a printed piece to gain distinction by stimulating the sense of touch.
Sometimes called a “soft-feel” or “velvet” finish, the use of soft-touch finishes is growing in popularity…particularly for book covers, presentation folders, and many other types of promotional printing where distinctive qualities are important.
What does a Soft Touch finish feel like?
When describing a soft-touch finish, it is difficult to fully capture its unusual texture with the written word. However, many people describe it as feeling like short-napped velvet, smooth suede, or soft chamois leather. But regardless of each individual’s interpretation, a soft-touch finish definitely gets noticed and almost always elicits an inquisitive response to its unique and unexpected feel.
Many traditional printed pieces, particularly promotional pieces, have a shiny appearance and a slick feel. This is usually attained by the application of a gloss aqueous coating, UV coating, or laminate. Conversely, a piece with a soft-touch finish will have a subtle texture with almost no sheen.
How is a Soft Touch finish achieved?
A soft-touch finish is achieved by applying either a soft touch coating or a soft touch laminate film. Soft-touch coatings are applied in liquid form, usually as an inline process, after the printing ink has been applied. The coating then dries with the “soft feel” texture.
On the other hand, a soft-touch laminate is a specially-textured matte plastic film that is bonded on top of the printing. The distinct, low-luster surface of this special laminate provides the soft feel.
Bear in mind that a soft-touch coating is less expensive than a soft-touch laminate, but the laminate adds durability to the printing whereas the coating does not. Also, for best results, it is recommended that any soft-touch finish be applied over high-quality coated papers and cardstocks.