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Sign Laminating Systems

The perception created by signage is as important to a business as its customer service and lamination is key to ensuring durability. Brenda Hodgson looks at sign-making laminators

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The award-winning Easymount Air Wide Format Laminator from Vivid Laminating Technologies was the machine of choice for Digital Deadline

Roll up your sleeves

There is nothing that gives a negative message about an organisation more than dirty, scruffy, damaged signage. The importance of keeping signage looking fresh and clean, and with sign-makers increasingly diversifying into areas such as wide and super-wide-format print for outdoor use, such as pop-up displays, exhibition graphics, and vehicle wraps, makes lamination an almost non-negotiable element of the finishing process.

However, lamination can do much more than simply protect and preserve; it also improves appearance and enhances most printed materials, making colours more vibrant and giving a higher quality finish. As well as gloss and matt lamination film, a range of other finishes are available for creating effects or providing added protection, such as soft touch, sandtex, anti-graffiti, and eco-friendly biodegradable.

New developments

Whilst the basic principles of laminating remain much the same, refinements can be seen in the development of new machines and technologies that are designed to meet the changing needs of sign-makers and their customers.

FESPA 2016 saw the launch of two new Neschen laminators to replace the Seal range (which is now no longer available). The Neschen Coldlam 1650 cold laminator features a heat assisted top roller, four shafts, folding infeed table and infeed roll trough, and powered take up for roll-to-roll, and is capable of processing up to 8m per minute. The Neschen Hotlam 1650 TH is a double hot roller laminator, with built-in roll-to-roll, and is capable of processing up to 12m per minute. Both machines have a 1650mm working width and are built for smooth and effective non-stop roll-to-roll laminating for precise long runs.


The Neschen Hotlam 1650 TH from distributor Atech is a double hot roller laminator, with built-in roll-to-roll, and is capable of processing up to 12m/min



“Laminating machines apply more pressure, are versatile, they can apply graphics to panels, mount, use a wide range of media and have a small footprint,” says Allan Ashman, managing director of UK distributor Atech, adding: “The new Neschens can perform roll-to-roll work right out of the box.”

Colourgen, the UK distributor for the Kala range of laminators, including the Mistral and Arkane, reports a large and loyal user base for these machines due to their functionality, robust build, and reliability.


The Kala Mistral laminator from UK distributor Colourgen features an intuitive control panel that has made the machine easier to use



Melanie Enser, Colourgen’s product marketing manager, confirms: “The actual finishing process has changed little over the years. New developments tend to focus on the quality of the construction of the machine and improvements to ease-of-use. And this is where the Kala laminators have generally achieved their success.

“Kala laminators are also known for their excellent production and throughput capabilities. The latest machines have a new design and an aesthetic look and feel which is very different to its competitors. They are easier to use through an intuitive control panel and Kala has made the process of physically loading and unloading the machine much more straightforward. They are also easy to move around on a level floor, have a small footprint and include lots of additional features, like automatically winding and unwinding rolls, at no additional cost.”

Winning ways

Vivid Laminating Technologies, one of Europe’s leading designers and manufacturers of award-winning laminating systems, has been supplying systems and consumables to the print industry since 1987 and currently exports to over 50 countries worldwide.

Reinforcing the quality of Vivid’s products, the new Easymount Air Wide Format Laminator has won a Top Product Award in the United States. The Wide-Format and Signage 2016 Readers' Choice Top Product Awards took place on April 1st, with Vivid’s new system taking the top award in the Finishing: Laminating Equipment category.

“We’re very proud to win a second award for our laminating systems in the US,” says export manager Bruce Cozens, adding: “We were presented Top Product for our Matrix OPP Laminating Systems, and for the Easymount Air to now also be recognised as a Top Product is a great achievement. Two awards in just six months is incredible.”

The award will be officially presented to Kevin Grabiec of Rock Hill Distribution, Vivid’s exclusive distribution partner for the Easymount in the US, at April’s ISA International Sign Expo in Orlando.


The Easymount Air has won a Top Product award in the US with the new system taking the top award in the Finishing: Laminating Equipment category of the Wide-Format and Signage 2016 Readers’ Choice Top Product Awards



“A revolution in the wide format lamination and mounting market, the Easymount Air's patented technology uses one of the most advanced concepts ever seen in a wide format laminator,” Cozens continues.

The laminating rollers are controlled by pneumatic air pressure, allowing wide-format printers and sign-makers to mount and laminate with great precision. Pneumatic air allows the rollers to adjust to the exact thickness and pressure required, giving faster production times.

Cozens adds: “We’ve smashed the competition because of the ground-breaking technology within the Easymount Air. The top roller 'floats' down, which means that foam and fluted boards aren’t crushed. When the rollers achieve the correct substrate thickness, they can be locked in place to keep the required gap, making board feeding faster and more accurate.”

One of the first purchasers of an Easymount Air laminator is Digital Deadline in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Established in 2004, the company specialises in sign-making, vehicle graphics, and wide-format digital print. When their existing wide-format laminator needed replacing at the beginning of the year, internet research resulted in one system continuously displaying in their search engine results.

“The Easymount kept appearing all the time,” says director Mark Brooks, adding: “The reviews we read were all very positive, and we already knew Vivid as we print the vinyl they use for demos. We’re a busy company with a big volume of work and our GBC wasn’t doing the job, so we needed a new machine to cope with the output.”

Digital Deadline produces many different kinds of work for their customers, including roll-up banners, signs, pop-up exhibition graphics, and some incredible vehicle wraps.


Digital Deadline director Mark Brooks (left) says that the faster speed of 10m per minute was one of the deciding factors in the company’s decision to purchase the Easymount Air laminator



Brooks continues: “We bought two Mimaki JV33 printers for all of our wide format work and we knew we needed a fast and reliable wide format laminator to partner with them and the great reviews on the Easymount range meant that we hardly looked at any other models. We were given a demonstration of the Easymount Air by Vivid. The fact that the laminating rollers can automatically detect the amount of pressure required is amazing. The rollers also stay completely level, no matter what substrate you are mounting onto.”

Brooks states that the faster speed of 10m per minute was also a deciding factor in the purchase: “A lot of the time, we are laminating full rolls of vinyl. On our old machine, this would be very slow and tedious, as we would have to chop-up the vinyl as it came out the back. Because the Easymount Air has the extra roll-to-roll unit, everything becomes quicker and easier. We’ve already increased both our production and our profits.”

Going for the finish

The emphasis is increasingly on finishing rather than simply laminating, with the range of lamination film effects that are now available and the range of media to which it can be applied.

“Laminating is one of the traditional finishing processes for many sign jobs and always will be, giving protection to fragile graphics in any number of challenging environments, indoor and outdoor, retail displays, transport graphics, vehicle wraps,” Ashman of Atech emphasises, adding: “As the range of available media grows in capability, laminating machines will be the workhorse of finishing departments the world over for many years to come.

Laminating is one of the traditional finishing processes for many sign jobs and always will be, giving protection to fragile graphics in any number of challenging environments


“Some of our sign industry customers are pushing the envelope further in their search for new business. Textiles for interior designers, printed and coated custom wallpapers, leather cutting, packaging proofs, FSDU, lighting design, POS and more all contribute to increasing the return on expensive machines and reduce vulnerability to single market downturns. The sign industry has always been innovative and looking outside the box has proved profitable for our customers who, with our help, can print, cut and finish to exploit a new range of opportunities.”

O Factoid: The first practical roller-type laminator was developed and built in 1936/37 by William Barrow. O


Enser of Colourgen summarises: “Finishing, as opposed to laminating, offers great opportunities for sign-makers to add value and generate extra margins. It means providers can offer guaranteed durability to a range of external effects, such as UV, scratching, scuffing, graffiti and chemicals etc. It also allows the sign-maker to affect the finished look and feel of a graphic to achieve the specific finish their customers are looking for.”

New technology, new machine developments, new laminating materials, and a good pinch of innovative creativity look set to be the recipe for some eye-catching effects to enable sign-makers to ensure their customers’ signage keeps them ahead of the pack.

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