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I do apologize, but I'm not familiar with the name for this type of paper or result, but when you purchase postcards or greeting cards that have been professionally made, they have a finish on one side (typically where the photograph is, or the outside of the greeting card). This is opposed to the "paper texture" on the side you write on. This same type of finish is found pretty much anywhere you find packaging that been professionally produced (cereal boxes, soft-cover books, etc).

First, What is the name for this type of finish?

And second, how is it created? Is a special type of printer or paper required, or is the finish added after the item has been printed? Would it be feasible for these types of things to be printed by a small business, or are high-cost industrial printers required?

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What you are referring to is called an Aqueous coating or Varnish. (more info here)

These are printed just like any ink. They are a clear varnish or ink that is printed on top of the color printing to provide a shine, gloss, or smooth coated finish.

I'm unaware of any home user or small end printer which has (or supports) aqueous inks available for it. They might exist, but I've never seen them.

By hand, you could use a coat of Krylon Crystal Clear spray paint and add a light coat after a piece has been printed. Just be careful to not "soak" the prints with the crystal clear.

  • Another term is "UV Coating" or "Lamination". Not sure how interchangeable those all are, though. – DA01 Feb 6 '15 at 21:26
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The coating on the outside of the cards is called varnish. You do need a special kind of printer to have it put on the card smoothly. These printers are pretty expensive though, so it's typically more cost effective to have someone print the cards for you for a little cost. However, if you're looking to start an independent greeting card business it would be mart to invest.

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