Laminates play a critical role in the look and longevity of large format prints. They protect projects from environmental hazards such as UV rays, wind, and rain; and from damage in transport, fingerprints, and graffiti. Laminates also serve to enhance prints with glossy or matte finishes—even special finishes like glitter and frost coats. Large format print providers offering lamination services reap the rewards of offering lasting prints.
MegaPrint Inc. is a specialty large format printer located in Plymouth, NH. The 19 employee shop operates a 17,500 square foot facility designed specifically for wide format printing. The facility houses a full service finishing shop for mounting and laminating and a banner shop that produces banners up to eight feet by any length.
MegaPrint primarily serves the trade show, retail, and photo markets. Customers in these markets laminate for a number of reasons. "For trade shows, everything should be laminated for better presentation. In retail, we usually recommend lamination unless the stores’ fixtures provide a nice presentation to paper prints. For photos, we use gloss laminate unless they are worried about glare, in which case we will use matte or crystal laminate," explains Jay Buckley, president and owner, MegaPrint.
He estimates that half of MegaPrint’s jobs are laminated. Lamination adds a revenue of about two dollars per square foot to each job.
The shop uses a 5-mil product from D&K Group, Inc. for standard gloss and matte lamination. They use Seal Jet Guard Deep Crystal lamination primarily as trade show laminate. A product from Neschen Americas, the film is scratch resistant with a crystal textured satin finish, designed to hide fingerprints and scratches.
MegaPrint owns two GBC Falcon 40 laminators and a GBC Falcon 60; a Ledco 60; and a Seal Image 400 to apply laminates. "All of our lamination is hot applied so that we don’t have trouble with delamination or tunneling," explains Buckley.
"One recent project involved cutouts of the presidential candidates for a magazine shoot during the New Hampshire primary," he says. Lamination provided the application with a polished look. "All were matte laminated and mounted on Gatorboard, then cut out and fitted with easel stands."
Another project produced by MegaPrint were trade show pop-up booth panels for scientific company HORIBA Jobin Yvon Inc. MegaPrint produced artwork designed by the customer and laminated booth panels on a GBC laminator using Seal Jet Guard Deep Crystal laminate on the front and 10-mil gloss laminate on the back.
MegaPrint doesn’t specifically experience any specific challenges when applying laminates. "Generally, if you buy good equipment and learn to use it properly, it runs well. We prefer hot roll equipment to heat shoe machines, finding that they give us less trouble and laminate and mount at the same time," says Buckley.
Having a specific laminator dedicated to each particular laminate saves the company time and money. "This allows us to have very low makeready costs, since we aren’t switching materials all the time. The customer doesn’t pay for changing materials, and getting a machine running just right can waste a lot of time and laminate," says Buckley.
Success with Laminates
MegaPrint satisfies customers with large format prints that look great and last a long time. An intelligent approach to workflow and attention to high-end materials aids in efficient lamination jobs. The added revenue generated from laminates plays an important role in MegaPrint’s success.