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Delving into the Lamination Landscape

(September 2013) posted on Fri Sep 13, 2013

Five manufacturer representatives talk lamination, plus nearly 30 sources of laminators.

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By Adrienne Palmer

In recent years, plastic surgery, cosmetic procedures, and anything that can change a person’s appearance and help him or her find the “fountain of youth” have been on the rise. Chin lifts, tummy tucks, lip injections and other similar medical initiatives are at the top of the to-do list for many people. No one, it seems, wants to appear to grow old, and everyone wants to look better than their best.

Clients are much the same when it comes to their graphics: They often want the printed graphic to exceed their expectations (as well as the image file’s megapixels), and in their ideal world, the graphic would always appear “showroom fresh,” never showing wear or tear.

Luckily for them, the print world’s equivalent to a cosmetic procedure is readily available: lamination. Like its medical counterpart, lamination offers a graphic the ability to resist aging; plus, the right laminate can add a little “oomph” to the original image, providing it with more visual impact and a more effective marketing tool.

This month, we reached out to five industry suppliers of laminators and laminates, asking them to give us their opinions on the opportunities that laminating presents to a shop, ways to better understand today’s lamination landscape, and why lamination is the key to sealing the deal on your finished product.

Ubiquitous laminating
In the past 20 years, the wide-format marketplace has changed its need for lamination equipment, says Jerry Hill, VP, new market business development at Drytac Corporation,

“Gone are the super-heavy-duty and super-expensive laminators. Smaller shops have brought lamination in-house to control quality as well as turnaround time, which in turn, has created a market for entry-level to mid-range laminators. Contributing factors have been the signage channel and the explosion of the vehicle-wrap business.”

What about the argument that the emergence of flatbed and hybrid printers has reduced the need for laminating?

“Even with the proliferation of flatbed printers, which essentially eliminates the need for mounting prints on substrates, laminator installs are still on the rise,” says Hill. “Laminators still play a significant role in overall graphics production. While it’s true that flatbed and UV printer installations are growing, the install base of solvent, eco-solvent, and latex roll-to-roll printers is still tremendous. All of these printers produce graphics that require mounting and laminating in order to produce a sellable final application to a customer.”