While inks and media are more durable, many print service providers (PSPs) still prefer to laminate; especially for long-term applications that are exposed to harsh elements.
Last Longer with Lamination
Although printing and ink technologies improve every year, end users demand that output improve just as quickly. Victoria Doucet, marketing communications coordinator, Drytac Corporation, advocates that PSPs can exceed expectations when providing lamination services that offer the look, feel, and durability customers want. No matter what the application, graphics benefit from the added protection that film or liquid lamination provides.
As enhanced printer and ink developments come to market, it is important to have laminators, protective films, and mounting adhesives that complement these technologies. “Finishing adds a revenue stream for PSPs, differentiates them from their competition, and allows them to add application capabilities that they would not be able to produce without a laminator,” says Ronit McGuthrie, marketing communications manager, Neschen Americas. “For example, face mounting to glass or plexi with an optically clear adhesive, creating floor graphics, window graphics, and anti-graffiti signage are all possible when a laminator is used.”
Tony Caruso, eastern regional sales, Advanced Greig Laminators, Inc., points out that certain wide format media has evolved to incorporate some of the characteristics or advantages of laminates. “For example, there was a time when light blocking laminates were popular, but today, many PSPs print directly to a media with light blocking capability.”
Laminators are still popular because they offer PSPs versatility and flexibility at a minimal investment, while also providing a quick return on investment. “A laminator helps create applications ranging from low-cost, short-term lawn signs to a high-end, fine art graphics face mounted to acrylic,” adds Caruso.
Wayne Borg, director of marketing graphics and appliances, Royal Sovereign, suggests laminating every graphic, as the cost of laminate is small compared to the benefits it provides. “Lamination protects prints from damage like scratching or getting wet, preserves the media so that it lasts longer, and enhances colors by deepening contrasts.”
To increase the life of signs, lamination provides UV, dirt, abrasion, and moisture protection. “When signs are put outdoors, the film protects the ink and substrate from scratching and weather wearing. Also, lamination gives special finishes such as satin, metallic, and holographic, which is not necessarily available when printing,” adds Marcus Tam, sales executive, Eastsign International Ltd.
“Lamination also prevents ink cracking on canvas prints when applied to stretcher bars,” notes Frank Romanello, CEO, Rolinx Performance Products. Michael Osman, president, Rolinx shares, “lamination adds slip-resistance for floor laminate applications. In addition, anti-graffiti laminates as well as dry erase films are available.”
Laminators allow users to mount graphics easily and professionally. “For example, window displays, point of purchase displays, vehicle, and trade show graphics require laminators to apply overlaminates and mounting adhesives. Graphics that are handled or moved around a lot, such as trade show graphics, need extra durability that inks alone do not provide,” says Bob Elliott, global lamination equipment product manager, GBC, an ACCO Brands Company.
Laminators such as Xyron Inc.’s cold laminators include the added benefit of not damaging heat-sensitive documents, photos, or signs. With heat-based lamination users do not have to worry about how hot to set the laminator, how fast to run the documents through, or whether the thickness of the paper and the film work for the application.
Covering Car Wraps
Vinyl Ink, a car wraps and graphics printer located in Fremont, CA, currently owns Neschen’s Seal 62 Pro laminator. Chris Bastan, owner, Vinyl Ink, appreciates the automated take up on the back of the machine for rolling up longer runs of media, as well as the swing out arms on the Seal brand laminators, which assist with easy loading and unloading of media.
The PSP encourages all prints to be laminated for better durability. However, since prints are sold with and without lamination, the service is offered as an add on to most products.
Since Vinyl Ink produces a lot of vehicle wraps, lamination is essential. “Obviously cars go through a lot of abuse due to weather and road conditions. Bugs, acid rain, bird droppings, and dust easily eat through the graphic and stain if is not laminated,” cautions Bastan.
Lamination also extends the UV resistance of inks and adds durability to the vinyl product during installation and repositioning on vehicles. It slightly increases the thickness, which helps prevent tears when the vinyl is stretched over various shapes of the vehicles body. It is also good for cleaning purposes as it protects the graphic from most cleaning chemicals and abrasives.
“Generally we use our judgment when automatically including lamination with a product based on its use,” shares Bastan. “For example, all vehicle wraps are laminated regardless in order to stand up to road conditions and constant weathering and the price is automatically factored in. General signage such as banners and yard signs do not necessarily require laminate due to short-term use, so we only offer it if the customer is looking for a durable product or something that is resistant to graffiti or other damage.”