In many cases, industry attention is always focused on the "big guns" in the print shop—the printers that output thousands of feet of material—while some of the other processes in the shop can get forgotten. Lamination has been one of the topics that been left out in the cold, so to speak. With the emergence of UV technology and inks that deliver longer durability without lamination, some print service providers might wonder if overlaminate films are really necessary—or if they just add more time to a job that might have a tighter turnaround than in previous years. Additionally, there's the extra expense for the material and the labor to install it properly—without ruining the graphic.
Wide-Format Imaging posed three questions to overlaminate experts to get their views about the current industry misconceptions and challenges surrounding overlaminates, the new developments that will help to grow overlaminate usage among newbies and pros alike, and the reasons why print service providers should offer finishing and overlamination services as part of their "one-stop-shop" approach to the market.
1. What do you think is the biggest challenge or misconception about overlaminates?
Mary Ann Kucera, product marketing manager, MACtac: One challenge that comes to mind is that most overlaminating films just don't stick to UV inks. UV inks’ surfaces are usually pretty tightly cross linked and somewhat difficult to stick to, but frequently, they also very textured and looks almost sand-like.
There are a number of different laminates available, so it's important to choose the right one for your job. You need to consider how long the graphic has to last, unusual environmental conditions, conformability requirements, the type of lighting the graphic will be viewed under, and more when considering which overlaminate is appropriate for your job.
As far as processing goes, most laminates are easy to use. Apply them at room temperature to dry the graphics (24 to 48 hours), and watch your tensions. If the finished graphic will be shipped, maintain a six-inch inner roll diameter to prevent de-lamination.
Steve Milazzo, GBC Channel Marketing Manager: The biggest challenge facing over laminates is that ink and printer manufacturers believe that their output does not need to be laminated. Signs, banners, and other wide-format applications all can benefit from lamination to prevent the inks from scratching, to provide protection from abrasive chemicals, to enhance color and also to provide a variety of textures to the printed output.
Angela Mohni, vice president of marketing, Neschen Americas: The biggest challenge is helping customers and print providers understand the true value of finishing. Lamination is more than simply putting film over a printed image. It allows print providers to offer new applications and transforms a print into a sign or display that helps present the message more effectively. Lamination needs to be fully understood to be appreciated and educating the customer on its advantages and opportunities, as well as training print providers on its value and earning potential is key.
Molly Waters, sales support manager, technical services group, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division: One challenge is for the sign shop or converter to convince the customer that an overlaminate is necessary on applications that have a short lifespan. An example is a short-term vehicle wrap. In an attempt to keep the overall cost of a wrap down, the shop or converter may try to skip using the laminate. If the wrap’s lifespan is one to two years and the printer manufacturer states the film is two year durable, a customer may not see the need to protect the graphics with an overlaminate.
What is often misunderstood is that in addition to UV protection, the overlaminate provides protection against abrasion and mild chemicals. If the wrap isn't laminated, it will become scratched after a few trips through a car wash or by trees and other objects. The inks can also be affected by gasoline around the fuel tank as well as other cleaners.