2. What laminates will work with toner-based media and other evolved print media?
Caruso: Laminates have also evolved to compliment new printing methods. There are films and liquids that will work well with Indigo, Xerox, Canon, and others. The issue some may face is the fuser unit that is used to bond the toner to the paper. Most fuser units use fuser oil that coats a Teflon coated roller to prevent paper jams. The flow rate of fuser oil can sometimes be adjusted and a technician may liberally apply oil to reduce the amount of jams. Too much oil can create a problem when applying laminates.
Corey: Toner based media require thermal adhesives that are stickier than traditional wide-format laminate adhesives. Most pressure-sensitive laminates stick fine.
Mohni: Film laminates should work with toner-based media, but we always recommend testing to ensure 100 percent compatibility. Pressure sensitive (cold) laminates are recommended and will perform better than heat activated materials.
Pierce: Lamination films are available with different adhesives to address the ever changing toners and agents used with digital print engine output. Some of these toners and agents require a lower melting temperature adhesive and some require adhesives that are ultra aggressive. GBC offers laminating films that use a lo-melt adhesive (activation temperature range of 180°F to 210°F), standard adhesive (activation temperature range of 220°F to 250°F), and ultra aggressive digital adhesive that activates at the same range as our standard adhesive.
The actual substrate, whether it is polyester, polypropylene or nylon, is not the deciding factor with digitally produced output. The deciding factor is the requirements of the adhesive. Some output requires a lower melting temperature, whereas others require specially designed adhesives with ultra aggressive bonding properties.
3. What are the advantages/disadvantages of cold- vs. heat-based laminates?
Caruso: Thermal laminates should not be used when laminating media or substrates that do not react well to heat, such as vinyl media. Cold laminates can be easier to use because there is no dwell time. Thermal laminates are best for encapsulating an image. In the end, the application or the project usually dictates which method is best.
Corey: Cold laminates provide easier, faster set up, suitable for small runs, stick to vinyl banners and adhesive vinyl.
Thermal laminates have the problem of sticking and can cause heat problems with banner and vinyl. Also, thermal lamination adhesive is water-based and not suitable for outdoor use. Cold laminators are less expensive.
Heat laminates are less expensive per thickness. Pressure sensitive laminates are only available in textured surfaces in 10mil, can get thermal matte and lustre and gloss in 10 mil thickness.
Goodman: Some media is heat sensitive, so only cold laminates can be used on these products. Usually heat laminates are less expensive. With adhesion problems and silvering, heated laminates work better than pressure sensitive.
Mohni: Hot laminates have a price advantage over cold laminates. Some users who are new to finishing find hot laminates easier to handle because there is no release liner to work with.Finally, since hot lamination films don’t have “active” or “sticky” adhesive until heat is applied, dirt is less likely to get trapped in the adhesive.
Cold laminating films are the dominant products in the marketplace because of the final application and print technology. Many PSPs are printing to self-adhesive vinyl, thus cold laminating films are the best solution for use with that print media. Also, cold films stick to just about everything, including many high surface-energy polyesters.
Pierce: Cold, or pressure sensitive, over-laminates must be used with heat sensitive output. An example of this is the use of cold laminates for signs printed on adhesive-backed vinyl. Thermal laminates cannot be used for this type of high volume application.