What questions would you like to see answered about laminators and laminating? Back in November, I posed that question to the Wide-Format Imaging Network on LinkedIn and received a number of fantastic questions. Some of the industry’s top lamination experts weighed in to offer answers to your top questions.
Interested in joining the conversation? Sign up to join the group at linkd.in/nHA9Zo
1. What are the pros/cons of UV liquid lamination vs. film lamination?
Tony Caruso, Eastern regional sales, AGL: Liquid lam has grown in popularity in narrow-format printing with menu, brochure, book cover, and postcard printers that don’t need a laminate to add rigidity. It bonds well to heavy ink coverage, costs less on large runs, and it’s fast. However, film lamination still dominates in wide format printing.
Film offers a wider range of finishes and textures, is more durable than UV liquid, plus film can add rigidity and UV protection when needed. UV liquid can’t.
Another consideration is the equipment used to apply the laminates. A UV liquid device has a single use; applying UV liquid laminate. A traditional roll laminator gives the printer the ability to mount and create various decals in addition to laminating.
Frank Corey, senior sales and marketing manager, Quality Media & Laminating Systems: UV liquid laminators are suited for long runs of printed media (banner or adhesive vinyl). The liquid laminators are a substantial investment (way more than most laminators) and from what I am told, there is daily cleaning involved to make the units operate properly. Pro: less expensive than film lamination/sq.ft. Con: greater initial investment, single thickness of coating—unlike films, suited for certain materials and long runs, higher maintenance costs.
Nate Goodman, product manager, Drytac
Adds rigidity to cast film
Can be conformable (polymeric)
Clean up is limited
Polyester and Polypropylene PE less expensive than PVC’s
More eco friendly (polypropylene)
Wide variety of application methods
Low cost of entry
Lower price than film equivalent
Small batch customization possible
Cost of entry can be high (UV curable)
Clean up considerations can be a drawback
Angela Mohni, vice president Marketing, Neschen Americas: Film lamination provides many more readily available choices in film finish and final application. There are various textures, gloss levels, and performance enhancement such as graffiti resistance and write on/wipe off characteristics. Liquid lamination, particularly UV, provides fewer options on finishes; however, the benefit is lower cost per sq.ft. and faster production. Also, film laminating equipment is much more widely available.
Ed Pierce, product manager, GBC: When considering finishing options, the application and its use must always be considered first. Questions that need to be answered before choosing a finishing option include: Will the application be moved around a lot and be susceptible harsh treatment? How long will the application be in use? Is the application something that needs to be protected from tearing? Will the application be bent time and again? Is the application going to be exposed to harsh environmental conditions? What finish is required? Will the application be used more than one time?
If the answer to any of these questions indicates that the application requires higher levels of protection from exposure and use, the very best option is film lamination. Film lamination offers a great deal more protection and durability to the finished output. Liquid coating has its place, but will not offer the long standing durability and protection that film lamination does.
Of course, price is always a consideration. Liquid coating costs less and if the application is for a one time use, it may be a good finishing alternative. Film lamination offers different levels of price points that may meet the cost targets and can also return a higher margin to the print provider.