"Understanding their customer’s needs, identifying the finished products intended use, and understanding the different laminates available can help lower overall costs and increase profits," says Tony Caruso, Eastern Regional Sales, AGL. "For example: if a customer wants a shop to create a graphic for short term indoor use, the customer may choose to not laminate because their perception may be that lamination will provide little value while increasing their price. A shop owner who agrees may be leaving money on the table. A high quality thermal gloss laminate, with an average sqft cost of eight cents, can enhance and make the graphic more vivid. A laminated vs. an un-laminated comparison will often show a customer the value of laminating and win the business."
By being educated on all the ins and outs of the types of laminates offered, shops can ensure that they are providing the right laminate for the job. For instance, for floor graphics work, slip resistant overlaminates are essential. Using the incorrect laminate or no laminate at all becomes a safety issue. Once slip resistance is taken care of, appearance is the next factor and will depend on where the graphic is used, and the customer’s esthetic requirements.
These days, customers are always looking for the best value and in many cases the cheapest price. They always want to know "Why should I laminate?" What's the difference, really, apart from cost?
"Although there are some types of wall graphics media where lamination is not recommended—such as fabric and media with microsphere adhesive—most wall graphics benefit from lamination. An appropriate laminate improves readability of copy or view ability of graphics. Laminates typically enrich color without changing it. In areas where fingerprinting, cleaning, and UV/weather resistance are factors—which is almost every wall graphic installation—laminates are indispensable," says Mary Ann Kucera, marketing manager, MACtac Graphic Products. "General signage applications benefit from both protection against environmental damage and enhancements of color and readability. Only the least expensive of short term signage, where cost is the driving factor, should be left unlaminated. Even UV ink, which is fairly durable, benefits from lamination to improve readability and reduce glare from its characteristic sandy-textured surface."
Judy Bellah, public relations manager of Clear Focus Imaging, Inc., also details some good and compelling reasons to offer lamination to your customers. According to Bellah, certain types of applications printed on window-perf films benefit from lamination. Although unlaminated window perf installs more easily, especially on complex curves, most vehicle window graphics are laminated with an optically clear, cast PVC filmto maintain visibility by keeping dust, dirt and water out of the film’s holes. Whereas, a liquid laminate is a good alternative in the dry season, when there’s less chance of rain, or when complex curves are an issue.
"Laminated graphics—especially those that have been installed for a long period of time—tend to be easier to remove," says Bellah. "The overlam helps keep the window film from tearing into small pieces during removal. Fewer hours of labor mean more profit for one’s shop."
Additionally, Jodi Sawyer, product manager, product branding business team, FLEXcon, recommends qualifying two different types of laminates: one with a smooth surface and one with a textured surface. "This should apply to the majority of the requirements and the printer may want to develop their own in house check list. Being able to sell that value to their client explaining how a laminate can add to the aesthetics, durability, extend the life of a graphic, ease of installation, and texture," says Sawyer.
It's About More than Just Price
It’s difficult to grow your business when you’re the low cost provider in town. Why not offer a premium product for a competitive price with excellent service? Or perhaps specialty films might be an option.
Specialty finishes can bring excitement to a graphic or add an extra dimension to an overall piece when used appropriately, says Drytac's Cristicini.
"Marketers are always looking for ways to make their brands and products stand out to consumers. Specialty finishes give marketers that option to take a regular image and soften it or make it shine more than usual. When consumers literally have seconds to view a brand or company's message, it's that subtle difference that makes one stand out over the other," says Todd Hain, marketing communications manager, Avery Dennison Graphics and Reflective Solutions.