Choosing Inks for Color Printing - Coated vs. Uncoated
If you read our previous blog post, you should know the difference between Spot Colors and Process Colors and the role they play in commercial printing. Just to recap a few points:
- Spot Colors are blended from any of 15 different base inks
- Process Colors are made by using different percentages of the four process inks
(Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) to build colors
- Even when used as a solid, ink is slightly translucent, not opaque
Coated vs. Uncoated
If you have a Pantone Formula Guide, or if you've used any design programs like the Adobe applications, you know that Pantone colors are listed by number. For example, PANTONE 185 is a bright red, while PANTONE 355 is kelly green. These colors have a letter after the number, C or U. Older programs might tag these colors as CVC or CVU (for "Computer Video Coated" and "Computer Video Uncoated"), but this has largely been abandoned. Either way, when you see these letters they refer to the type of paper. C stands for "coated" and U stands for "uncoated." In some rare instances you might see an M for "matte," which is still technically a coated stock. In the world of Pantone though "coated" means GLOSS coated... as in, shiny paper. In this post, when you see "coated" you'll know we mean "gloss coated."
Coated papers have a smooth finish, where the paper is pressed and polished while hot or steamed during the manufacturing process. This coating makes the paper less absorbent and takes ink better. Think of it as the coat of primer you'd use before painting your walls.
Uncoated paper is just that; paper without the coated layer. It's often used for letterhead, printer paper, copy machine paper, etc. Sometimes it will be classified as "bond" or "writing," but those are just other ways of saying "uncoated." it's fair to say, if coated paper is less absorbent (like a wall with primer) than uncoated paper is MORE absorbent (like a wall WITHOUT primer!)