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Lamination

Lamination allows sign-makers to not only protect work, but give their signs that extra bit of quality. Rob Fletcher looks at the latest kit on the market to help sign companies enhance output

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Finishing strong

The competitive nature of the modern market means sign-makers are under inc-reased scrutiny from potential customers, who have a whole host of suppliers to choose from. Ensuring your signs both look the part and will stand the test of time can go a long way to bringing in valuable and profitable work.

Lamination is particularly useful here, as it allows sign-makers to protect their work from the elements, and other sources of damage, as well as help their work ‘pop’ by adding that extra bit of sparkle. After all, the better the sign looks, the better impact it is going to have on the consumers, let alone your customers.

Here, we look at some of the latest laminating kit and materials available to the market, and examine how it can help you gain an advantage over competitors by ensuring your signage work is of the highest quality.

Ensuring quality

One of the leading brands in lamination kit, as its name may suggest, is Vivid Laminating Technologies. Sales director Richard Marlow says the quality of the finish is the key thing for both sign-makers and wide-format printers, and their level of investment in this kit should reflect this focus.


Having invested time and money on the design, materials and production, they don’t want to waste that effort by using a second-rate laminator

“Having invested time and money on the design, materials and production, they don’t want to waste that effort by using a second-rate laminator,” Marlow says, adding: “If the final finish is not up to scratch, they are back to square one with expensive wastage eating into their profits.”

Marlow also speaks about the benefits of bringing lamination services in-house, saying this will allow sign-makers and wide-format print companies to take more control over the production process and ensure work lives up to their own, high standards.

“Bringing lamination means that the print professional takes control of the job in terms of both quality control and turnaround,” he says, adding: “It also lowers the cost considerably compared to outsourcing, with no set-up cost to pay and also no driving off to the laminator to drop-off/pick-up work.”

With this in mind, Marlow draws attention to some of the latest kit available from Vivid, focusing in on its Easymount range. The Easymount Air, which Marlow describes as the supplier’s most “feature-packed solution”, continues to prove a popular choice for wide-format lamination.

Vivid’s Easymount Air EM-1600SH features swing-out arm technology at both the front and rear of the system, making loading vinyl and laminate easier and less time-consuming

For the Easymount Air EM-1600SH model, pneumatic air pressure controls the laminating rollers, which Vivid says users to mount and laminate with incredible accuracy and speed.

The machine also features swing-out arm technology at both the front and rear of the system, which, according to Vivid, makes loading both vinyl and laminate a lot easier and less time-consuming, with no compromise on the finish.

Marlow also reveals that Vivid is currently “working on something very exciting for wide-format lamination”, but the manufacturer is keeping the details of this secret for the moment. Vivid will be exhibiting at The Print Show later on this year, so industry members would be well advised to drop by the manufacturer’s stand at the event to learn more about the latest developments.

Protection perfection

While investment in quality and reliable hardware is one matter for sign-makers and wide-format printers to consider, it is also important to pay attention to the materials you use when laminating your work. Avery Dennison is one of several suppliers able to provide the materials required to ensure your work is finished to a high standard.

Alessandro Sacchi, product line director, digital print at Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, says that the right choice of material is “crucial” to the look of the final product and it is important to invest in quality when finishing work.

Avery Dennison says its new 1400Z series ultra-thin and super-conformable film is well suited to finishing jobs such as vehicle wraps
 

Sacchi expands: “Many kinds of problems are prevented by effective lamination – cracking, browning, ink fading, and of course scratches from mechanical abrasion. A properly applied laminate will also enhance the appearance of graphics significantly, and there is more design freedom thanks to the option of matt, gloss or lustre finishes.

“All of this is especially relevant for vehicle wrapping, where the challenges that a laminate has to overcome are particularly severe. The right choice of material is crucial, with conformability making a big impact on both the finished look and the time needed to finish application.”

Sacchi leads on from this to set out the benefits of taking the lamination process in house, offering the analogy that a car dealer only selling red cars would not be in business very long. He states: “An in-house laminating capability will meet the whole spectrum of customer requirements.

“Another key factor to take into account is warranty. Avery Dennison is one of the few suppliers offering a warranty for printed, laminated graphics on horizontal surfaces – often excluded in standard warranties.”



With this, Sacchi draws attention to some of the latest materials available from Avery Dennison that offer an effective solution to sign-making and wide-format lamination requirements, focusing on the 1400Z series in particular.

The 1400Z series is a major recent portfolio upgrade, developed specifically for vehicle wrapping and full 3D applications. This ultra-thin and super-conformable film has a new formulation that allows up to 220% elongation for what Sacchi bills as “outstanding performance” with rivets, corrugations, tight curves and deep recesses.

Gloss, matt and lustre finishes are available for the 1400Z series, all of which come with a six-year vertical three-year horizontal warranty.

Applications

Another supplier stocked full of options for lamination work is Antalis. The visual communications specialist offers a range of pressure-sensitive laminates and mount films, which it says are ideal for adding protection and finish to poster, point-of-sale, signs and graphic displays.

Of particular interest to sign-makers and wide-format printers will be the range of pressure sensitive laminates mount films. This collection includes the Drytac Mediatac, Remotac, Synart, Twintac, Facemount UV and Windowtac options, all of which Antalis says are ideal for adding protection and finish to posters POS, signs and graphic displays.

Elsewhere, the Antalis range of monomeric laminates offer short-term protection and finish for short-term flat surface on both indoor and outdoor jobs. Coala 1D Lam and Oraguard Monomeric are all available in gloss or matt finishes, while the Drytac Monomeric PVC films are water resistant.

Antalis’ range of polymeric semi-conformable laminates features a number of other options, including Coala 2D Lam that is suitable for applications on both flat and slightly curved surfaces. Oraguard 215 is similar in that it can also be used on slightly curved and flat surfaces, boasting a durability of up to five years, depending on the application.

The supplier also says its cast range of pressure sensitive laminate and mount films is ideal for adding protection and finish to posters POS, signs and graphic displays. Products here include Oraguard 290, a 50 micron cast PVC laminate with a solvent-based adhesive that is conformable and with the highest level of UV protection.

For the more specialist application, including window decorations and wall and floor graphics, Antalis offers a number of products.


O Factoid: Print lamination did not become popularised until the 1930s when organisations such as the Library of Congress in the US began using the technology to preserve its many historic, and often priceless, books.O


Drytac’s Interlam Pro Emerytex UV, Scuffguard and Weathershield Emerytex UV are designed specifically for wall and floor graphics jobs. In terms of window decoration, Antalis offers Drytac Windowtac, a 23 micron visually clear polyester mount film coated on one side with a pressure sensitive removable aqueous adhesive, protected by an embossed release liner for air-free application.

Although the main role of lamination films is to protect the main application, these products can do so much more in terms of adding extra value to the finished piece of work.

By not investing in quality lamination kit and materials, you are putting your signage and wide-format work at risk of damage from the elements
 
As members of the sign industry will know all too well, signs, posters and similar work need to look the part. Simply put, if the finished article looks shoddy, or is damaged as a result of poor finishing, it is unlikely that the customer will be back for more. After all, signs are predominantly used to promote products, and the consumer is not likely to pay much attention to damaged signs.

By working with some of the manufacturers and suppliers highlighted here, sign-makers and wide-format printers alike can gain access to reliable technology and equipment that will help ensure protect both their work and customer base.


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