"Specialty laminates have come a long way, and can set you apart from your competition," says MACtac's Yard. "For years the industry saw mostly matte, luster and gloss as the only options, but now there are textured floor films, durable polycarbonate, crystal finishes, embossed textures that mimic wood grain, carbon fibers, brushed metals, and more. Offering these to your customers as an alternative will allow them to think outside of the box and push the limits of design."
"The usage of specialty laminating finishes is consistently growing. Even with ongoing advancements in printer technology and printable media, there continues to be a need to further protect and enhance graphics," says Tom Pidgeon, vice president of sales & marketing, D&K Group. "The best way to sell/promote specialty finishes is by educating customers about the protection and value that they provide. By up-selling traditional gloss or matte finishes, graphic shops can offer their customers a greater variety of looks and feels that will greatly enhance printed pieces."
"Specialty finishes are increasingly more important in meeting the needs of what your clients wants. Specialty over laminates that can provide a different look to the graphics are important because brands are increasingly looking for differentiation," says FLEXcon's Sawyer. "Showcasing 'what’s possible' in terms of aesthetics that an overlaminate can bring will help printers bring value to their clients."
10 Tips to Profitable Finishing Departments
Keep the finishing area clean. This includes wiping the laminator (rollers, tables, idler bars) and finishing tables before using for the day and during the day when there are long production runs.—Frank Corey, senior sales and marketing, QMLS
Save and re-use release liners. According to Tom Pidgeon, vice president of sales & marketing, D&K Group, pressure sensitive films include a paper or film release liner that is typically disposed of after a job is completed. Release liners usually make up approximately 20 to 30 percent of a pressure sensitive film’s cost, so re-using these as a release paper or even as packaging material will help save money in other areas and allow shops to keep more profit.
Use “like” films for lamination. Jodi Sawyer, product manager, product branding business team for FLEXcon suggests using "like" films—vinyl/vinyl—as opposed to “unlike” films for optimal performance. Films expand and contract at different rates which can lead to issues with tunneling or cracking of the graphic in the end-use application.
Organize and clearly label all lamination and adhesive rolls. This eliminates shops using the wrong laminate for a job. Corey notes that many laminate and adhesive manufacturers do not label the inside of the roll so having a system to identify the rolls is important.
Allow time for outgassing. According to Judy Bellah, public relations manager for Clear Focus Imaging, Inc., shops should allow at least 24 hours for any solvent-based inks to outgas before applying an overlam. This is not necessary with latex or UV-cure inks.
Gang your jobs. According to Luigi Cristicini, national product manager, Drytac, ganging up jobs lowers your setup costs per job. Never just run one piece unless it’s absolutely necessary. Also take into account material waste like extra roll width and material used in webbing the laminator.
Limit your standard stock. Corey suggests limiting stock to three sizes (usually 38, 51, and 61/62 inches) and two or three finishes otherwise shops can end up with numerous rolls of odd widths and non standard finishes.
Buy smart. Buy from a vendor who only sells quality overlaminates and adhesives. The advantages include getting consistent finishes, getting no flaws in the laminate that eliminate reprinting, reduced silvering and better long term performance, especially on outdoor graphics.
Give the adhesive enough time to bond. After applying the overlam, Bellah suggests letting the graphics sit for 10 to 12 hours before installing in order to give the overlam’s adhesive enough time to bond to the print substrate.
Plan your finishing day. For example, according to Corey, plan to laminate all the images that require matte at the same time and all the images that require gloss at the same time. This saves time and material webbing and unwebbing the laminator.