Supercalendered Paper Is Highly Polished and Uncoated

An uncoated, less expensive alternative to lightweight coated paper

Supercalendered paper is the most economical paper used in magazine publishing. It is often used for mass circulation publications, newspaper supplements, and direct advertising pieces. What makes supercalendered paper unique is that it has a bright and shiny finish which is unusual for uncoated paper. Normally, only coated paper has a shiny finish.

What Is Supercalendering?

In paper manufacturing, calendering is the process of smoothing the surface of paper by pressing it between metal cylinders or rollers (calenders) at the end of the papermaking process. Calendering is the last step of the papermaking process before the paper is cut to standard sizes. 

After the paper is thinned by the calendering process, the paper will go through an additional set of calenders (supercalenders) to produce an even smoother and glossier paper called supercalendered paper or SC paper.

The supercalender consists of several cylinders alternating between polished metal and soft resilient surfaces. The supercalender runs at high speed and applies pressure, heat, and friction to glaze both surfaces of the paper, making them smooth and glossy.

Supercalendered, uncoated papers are exceptionally smooth and provide a high-quality surface for printing color photos and fine-line images. Coated papers also provide a superior printing surface, but they are more costly.

The supercalendered paper is a relatively recent addition to paper manufacturing. It was designed to provide a high-quality, less expensive alternative to lightweight coated papers.

Uses for Supercalendered Paper

The highest grade of supercalendered paper is typically used for magazines. It is the most economical paper that meets the demanding requirements of these publications. In lower grades of supercalendered paper, the glazing that occurs during supercalendering makes the paper thinner and more translucent. It also reduces stiffness, which makes the ​paper less suitable for some purposes. The grades of the paper reflect their opacity and stiffness.​

Grades of Supercalendered Paper

The supercalendered paper comes in several grades: SC A+, SC A, and SC B. Although all SC papers are high-quality options for magazine and catalog printing, the grades differ in finish and opacity. The SC A+ grade paper has a superior gloss compared to the other grades; it is more opaque and it costs more. The lower grades are suitable for catalogs, special interest magazines, and advertising material.