By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
Adhesive-backed media options enable a variety of unique applications. Floor graphics represent one opportunity. They have the ability to add clever marketing and practical wayfinding to an underutilized medium—the floor. However, it is important that these graphics be durable and safe. Overlaminates are available specifically for floor graphic work to add durability, protection, and anti-slip functionality.
Print service providers (PSPs) should consider overlaminates when adding floor graphic services.
Laminates are important for applications where durability is essential. Floor graphics certainly fit into this segment.
“A floor graphic is meant to be walked on. Lamination is a required step to give floor graphics the durability and slip resistance needed for that application,” says Tony Caruso, regional sales manager, Advanced Greig Laminators, Inc.
Mitch Noble, marketing consultant, Graphic Finishing Partners, LLC, points out that printable floor graphic media is used for short-term applications, but overlamination ensures a sealed image extending the useful life of the graphic.
While advancements in the base media improve durability, laminates are still recommended for floor graphic applications. “Although media is available for floor graphics with many of the same properties as laminates, laminating extends the life and offers more versatility. The floor graphic overlaminate can be paired with different media and adhesives to be repositionable or permanent and can be applied to different types of media used indoors or outdoors,” says Cory Jones, associate product manager, wide format lamination, SEAL/ACCO Brands.
Additionally, floor graphic laminates are used more frequently for trade show graphics and other non-floor applications because of their provided protection.
Characteristics of Laminates
Several features are important for laminates and overlaminates when it comes to floor graphics. PSPs offering floor graphic printing services should consider certifications, durability, UV protection, anti-slip effects, and strong adhesion.
Anti-slip properties for floor graphic laminates are a must and ideally backed by safety certification from a creditable source such as Underwriters Laboratories, points out Jones. In addition, a number of other features are desirable in a laminate for floor graphics.
“Floor graphic laminates should feature properties to withstand wear and tear. Foot traffic often leads to scratches, scuffs, and other marks that detract from the quality of the graphic and message being conveyed,” explains Jones. “Anti-scuff and scratch properties ensure the graphic and message are effective and can withstand wear and tear.”
Print providers laminate floor graphics to add durability and extend the life of the graphic. Noble says lamination seals the image and helps the graphic hold up to the floor cleaning chemicals and scrubbers used on the surrounding floor. They are available in different textures and finishes to reduce glare and accentuate the colors to make an image more impactful.
“I recently met with a client whose customers requested a more environmentally friendly floor graphic solution,” recalls Caruso. “Environmental awareness for floor, wall, and window graphics has grown in popularity.” He points out that an issue some have with floor graphic laminate is its heavily textured or pebbled finish. “This may aid in its anti-slip characteristic but it also distorts the image.”
In many instances, the laminate needs an aggressive adhesive to adhere to the media, which is the case with polyester films, adds Jones.
Wide format roll laminators are used to adhere overlaminates to printed floor graphics. Pressure-sensitive adhesive floor graphic media can be laminated on different laminators.
Noble believes floor graphics are generally printed on a self-adhesive vinyl media for added durability, so the overlaminate of choice is a pressure-sensitive vinyl or cold film rather than a thermal—or hot—film. He points out that pressure-sensitive adhesive films can run on any machine—hot or cold—that features a liner rewind function to remove the film backing. “Heat assist or top heat machines will reduce silvering or air pockets, which allow the graphic to be processed or rolled for shipment faster.”
Caruso says laminates for floor graphics are pressure-sensitive products and can be applied using a cold laminator. “However, a quality heat assist laminator allows the adhesive of the laminate to flow and cure more quickly and minimize or eliminate silvering.”
Laminates are available in both thermal and pressure sensitive for use when creating floor graphics. “Both solutions produce great looking floor graphics,” shares Jones. The type of laminator you have, the media used, along with the inks utilized dictate the best laminate solution for your floor graphic. “For example, if you are using a paper-based media and have a thermal laminator, a thermal laminate will work great. However, if you are using media that can warp with heat, a cold solution is your best bet.”
To ensure floor graphics are durable and safe, PSPs look to overlaminates to enhance the functionality of the print. A variety of laminators are on the market to apply laminates to floor graphics. Check out the second article in this series to learn more about popular laminators.
Aug2019, Digital Output