When it comes to furnishing a print service provider with equipment, in many cases finishing equipment—from laminators and seamers to cutters and routers—many times will fall to the bottom of the priority list. These days, however, with the growing install base of flatbed printers and digital cutters and routers—as well as the need for durable graphics—the post-press department is becoming more and more essential to a successful print business.
We interviewed several experts from the post-press side of the business. In the following pages they’ll discuss many of the questions print service providers have about finishing equipment. Such as: What is the most important piece of finishing equipment in a shop—the one piece I shouldn’t do without? Should I buy new or used? How much time will it take to train my staff? I have a flatbed/roll-to-roll/hybrid solvent/UV/aqueous/latex printer. Does it matter what finishing equipment I purchase?
What type of finishing equipment are the most popular additions to a print shop?
David Conrad, senior product manager, finishing, Neschen Americas: It all depends on the applications being served. For vehicle wraps and outdoor signs a reliable cold roller laminator can be used for applying a protective layer of pressure sensitive film over vinyl and for mounting images to rigid substrates is key. For photo finishing, a small format, water-based liquid coater along with the appropriate liquid finish to support such projects as book covers, menus and photographs is important.
In a production environment where both pressure sensitive and thermal applications will be present, you will want a versatile production based roller laminator with dual heated roller capability that can keep pace with printer output or possibly even a bi-directional machine. A small or newer print shop just getting introduced to finishing may find entry level laminators a wise choice for versatility, ease of use and dependable service. If the shop is looking to add support for walk-in business or for retail environments, pouch laminators are the simplest wide format laminator in the world to operate. Utilize it to provide kiosk type services for the print shop who also has a busy store front business.
Steve Milazzo, manager, channel marketing, GBC: Lamination equipment, (cold only, cold with top heat assist, and thermal laminators) are popular additions to any finishing department. They offer the print shop the opportunity to become a total solutions provider to their clients. Lamination will preserve, protect, enhance and provide rigidity or texture to any printed application. By finishing what they print, the print shop is offering additional benefits to their clients while generating additional profits for their shop.
Tim Saul, business development manager, D&K Group, Inc.: A laminator is a popular addition to a print shop. Most often, when a print is made, it simply looks like a paper print. With a laminator in the shop, they have the option to apply a laminate and enhance the print. The opportunity to create specialty graphics comes alive due to the different types of laminates and finishes available. Laminates can be applied to the print for added UV protection or to make prints for POP, trade show, floor graphics, backlit translights, and vehicle graphics.
Which equipment should any shop not do without?
Conrad: A shop must have a reliable laminator that will provide years of uninterrupted service, deliver professional results as well as additional services and products that only can be achieved through print finishing. A reliable table top and wall mounted multi-substrate cutter/trimmer is also necessary.
Frank Corey, senior sales and marketing manager, Quality Media and Laminating Solutions: Any print shop that does wide-format lamination should have a “cold” pressure sensitive laminator. You need the laminator to mount prints to boards, laminate print media (give clients the surface they are looking for—gloss, lustre, matte, textured, dry erase, anti grafitti) and protect the image from weathering. Also, lamination is a nice profit center if you are proficient at it.