Some traditional laminates, as well as new laminates with specialized textures, not only preserve and protect, they also enhance and beautify prints.
"The two key reasons to laminate a print are to protect it—from abrasion, chemical spillage, and UV light—and to enhance the appearance of the print," suggests Jim Hingst, graphic arts writer and business development manager, R Tape Corporation.
Output with Impact
Certain conditions, such as lighting, effect the way a printed graphic is viewed. The type of laminate finish depends on the message and the display environment, notes Jeffrey Stadelman, graphic products technical marketing manager, MACtac Graphic Products. "A high-glare lighting environment requires a lustre or matte finish just so the customer can see the message," he adds. MACtac offers a variety of finishes from super high gloss to ultimate matte and textured for a unique look or for slip resistance.
Several media manufacturers, including Hexis, offer glare-free laminates that optimize the viewability of printed output. "In recent months our most popular laminate is a cast matte—PC30M2," states Martin Kugler, corporate communications manager, Hexis. "This glare-free laminate offers a smooth, uniform surface appearance and opens creative options with finishing possibilities and easy viewing from any angle—outdoors and under artificial lighting conditions."
LexJet laminates come with UV inhibitors and are equipped with LexJet PreLume technology. "PreLume technology visually enhances graphic output by providing a white point that is brighter, whiter, and lasts considerably longer than substrates whitened with typical optical brighteners," says Jeff Leto, product manager, LexJet. "Optical brighteners will yellow when exposed to UV light or moisture and PreLume will not," he explains.
Create a Mood
New laminate options extend beyond classic finishes and add a dramatic effect to printed graphics. "For indoor use we’ll use patterned laminates," says Troy Downey, owner, Auto Paint Equivalent (APE) Wraps. Downey highlights patterned laminate options, like frost and glitter, from R Tape. For non-patterned lamination, APE Wraps exclusively uses Avery Graphics’ DOL line of cast laminates. "These provide the client with added pop that helps elevate the prints to a higher level," he adds. Based in Coronado, CA, APE Wraps provides design and print services ranging from signage to vehicle wraps and floor graphics.
MACtac’s Permacolor Enhancers series of overlaminating films include components like glass shards and metallic flakes built into the formula. Stadelman says Permacolor Enhancers have really caught the attention of vehicle wrap designers. They add the extra sparkle customers look for.
Eclypse Patterned Overlaminates are new additions to R Tape’s Eclypse overlaminate line. "The patterned overlaminates are really unique in the industry," says Hingst. The films are hot-embossed with a deep texture on the first surface of the overlaminate. "At first glance, many people mistake them for textured media. That’s easy to understand because if you run your fingers across their surfaces you can feel the texture," he adds.
Hingst says that while pattern overlaminates create an eye catching mood, they are not for every print. "These are special effects products, use them for special applications. The Linen pattern give images of clothing or perfume an added touch of class; the Diamond Plate and Carbon Fibre patterns are perfect for automotive and industrial images; the Frost pattern complements Winter scenes and images of beverages," he suggests.
3M Graphics Market Center is also beginning to offer enhancer laminate options. "3M offers a metallic ‘sparkly’ overlaminate in limited market test right now called 3650-0559," notes Tim J. Boxeth, marketing manager, high performance media, laminates & tools, 3M.
DrytacCorporation’s Protac range of laminates includes 18 different finishes. "The most artistic are finishes that resemble brushed steel, cracked ice, heavy textured canvas, antique leather, linen, and even a holographic effect with stars and hearts," says Jerry Hill, VP of sales and marketing, Drytac.
Enhancer laminates add extra impact to printed graphics, ultimately driving return on investment. "The advantage to the retailer is that in a store environment, eye-catching appeal stops consumers dead in their tracks. That way your marketing message is noticed, read, and remembered," says Hingst.
It may take some time before enhancer laminates gain in popularity. "Patterned laminates are just beginning to get a foothold in the market. We feel it will take additional exposure with the public to realize this option is available and provides a value-added benefit," says Downey.