Five manufacturer representatives talk lamination, plus nearly 30 sources of laminators.
Jennifer Corn, product line manager with LexJet, agrees: “Even though the hybrid and flatbed printers are good for high-volume shops on projects where lamination is not required, many times print shops have very specific applications that require lamination – which can add value. Beyond providing a specific finish or texture to the graphic or a specialty application like floor and carpet graphics, lamination can add also rigidity to a graphic so it can stand by itself, so to speak.”
“Finishing should be considered an added-value generator for print jobs. [Shops can] achieve consistent margins by offering mounting and laminating,” says Laurent Bouchard with Kala, the France-based company that is now marketing its laminators into the States. “On rigid boards printed with UV ink, there’s a need for protection against scratches. In most cases, UV colors are usually a bit matte – lamination can be used to enhance the print and give them more saturation/highlight.”
No matter what output hardware is being used, laminating will continue to have a role in the production of a variety of graphics applications, our interviewed companies indicate. These applications include the aforementioned floor graphics as well as window and wall graphics, plus vehicle wraps and signage – particularly products that might take a bit of a beating.
“Wherever there’s a need for graphics that go into harsh or rugged environments, there will always be a need for protection of some sort,” says Bob Elliot, a product expert for GBC. “Lamination offers the protection for those valuable graphics.”
And says Angie Mohni, VP of marketing at Neschen Americas: “The number one thing laminates offer is flexibility. Graphics can be printed on any type of media with any type of finish. Laminates allow the customer the flexibility of changing the finish of that media to gloss, luster, matte, or textured.”
An in-house solution
Bringing laminating capability in-house is a no brainer, industry sources say.
“If lamination is outsourced, a print shop might not be able to offer his customer a ‘just-in-time’ project,” says Corn. “Whereas having all the equipment in-house will allow them to capture last-minute specialty jobs that come in unexpectedly, as well as have more control over the quality.”