Five manufacturer representatives talk lamination, plus nearly 30 sources of laminators.
“Hot lamination would be recommended for printers using paper and water-based ink for the production of indoor displays,” says Bouchard. “Eco-solvent inks are more suitable for use with cold lamination. Pressure-sensitive films are also easier to process and require less skill from the laminator operator. There are some very interesting alternative products, requiring more heat than standard PSA films (heatset or thermal), with or without protection liner, for instance for the protection of canvas material or UV printed boards. The single-sided use of a heat-set or thermal film is appropriate for both performance and cost.”
“All ink technologies can benefit from laminating assuming you choose the right film for the application and have tested the compatibility before beginning full production,” says Hill. “Liquid laminates are very effective for enhancing signs, banners, and vehicle wraps while also providing the maximum amount of UV protection. Liquids do this at a significant cost savings. They are also ideal for specialty applications like wallpaper, fine-art and canvas prints, and truckside curtains.”
Improving the line
When it comes to lamination equipment, adjustments in technology and competition within the marketplace continue to push manufacturers into adjusting the lamination landscape.
“Like all technologies in the wide-format-printing market, laminators continue to improve in both construction and features,” says Corn. “Though there are no radical changes in the core laminating technology, we’re seeing greater throughput with fewer problems – like silvering and other issues in the output – during lamination. In other words, it's easier to find a durable, consistent laminator with features that make them easier to use, such as more intuitive and accessible control panels for making adjustments, for a lower cost.”
Elliot says GBC has tailored its new wide-format laminator line to “fit the latest line of printers in size, speed, and inks. Additionally, we created an exceptionally competitive line not only in practical applications but more importantly price: Performance doesn’t have to be expensive.”
“We see that the trend during the past few years has been to add ease-of-use features to entry level laminators,” says Hill. “One example is the addition of heat to the top roller to act as a heat-assist for pressure sensitive laminates. The heat speeds up adhesive ‘flow’ and eliminates silvering. Another added feature is extra shafts that allow for roll-to-roll operation. These increase efficiency, decrease labor costs, and increase yields due to improved handling.”