As digital print technologies advance, many new ink sets are designed to provide extra durability that is typically offered by protective films and coatings. While these advancements may add some durability, they will not displace the role of laminates, in terms of both protection and image enhancement.
“Even the most advanced inks cannot protect a vehicle graphic from a tree branch or other abrasion like laminates can,” says Jennifer Greenquist, inks and warranties business manager, 3M Graphics Market Center. She explains that since the introduction of inkjet inks, 3M has not required a protective coating on all types of graphic issues, but the abrasion protection and UV resistance they provide help ensure that the customer’s image look as good as it did the day it was printed.
“Consider the impact of shipping and reusing a graphic—preventing edge crush and fading to the media have nothing to do with ink sets,” asserts Ed Pierce, product manager, lamination supplies, GBC.
Fundamentally, lamination enables a change of the finish, thickness, rigidity, as well as added durability. Jeff Leto, product manager, LexJet Corporation, doesn’t see this need disappearing. However, there is a reduction in the need for lamination of short term graphics that do not require a different finish, or more thickness or rigidity.
George Mash, VP, FDC Graphic Films, Inc., points out that lamination does provide a measure of UV protection that adds durability and abrasion resistance, but it also offers the ability to add a finish to the graphic not available by ink printing alone.
David Conrad, senior product manager, Neschen America, also notes the advantage of protective films and coatings over straight prints, and sees it as an opportunity for new innovations from media providers. “The advances in ink technology actually opens the door for new types of lamination applications, of which most or all require some sort of finishing, thus actually broadening the scope of lamination possibilities,” he says.
Peace of Mind
Guarantees and warranties are a symbol of reputation. Knowing that a supplier stands behind their products is important, especially in an industry that offers choice. However, they are not to be abused. It is important that the terms of the warranty adhere to the graphic as a whole, considering substrates as well as ink. Following manufacturer guidelines is essential; otherwise the warranty could be voided in the result of a failure.
Manufacturers and suppliers of digital wide format equipment, inks, underlying media, and protective films and coatings thrive on innovation. As PSPs extend beyond the ordinary, it is important to partner with these experts to ensure a smooth process and installation, as nobody gains from a failed graphic—warranty or not.
Read more about protective coatings and overlaminates in the January 2011 feature article, available at the end of December.
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