Laminating 101

Laminating is not rocket science. It can, however, seem to be an art-form. We believe in Murphy's Law. With that being said, here are a few tips, tools, and definitions pertaining to the laminating and mounting industry; otherwise known as the finishing department.  As in any case, please find as many different sources for information and compare the ideas.  There is no end-all solution since each client is different. This is why Crayon's are sold in 256 colors.  Laminate is no difference.  It is available in a very wide range of styles, each with its own attributes. Deciding on the correct laminate can be difficult.  Several things must be considered. What finish do you want? Will this be indoor or outdoor? Will I use dry erase markers or permanent markers? How thick do I want my finished product to be?  Am I trying to cut my cost? Can my printed media withstand a high temperature laminate? Below you will find information explaining the different options available in wide format laminate, what they have to offer, their differences, and other helpful information on lamination.

 

A LAYMAN’S GUIDE TO LAMINATING FILMS 

Pressure Sensitive Laminating Films – Cold Laminating Films- PSA Films 

In the industry, laminating film is often referred to as over-laminating film. For our discussion as well as for the layman, we will refer to it as just laminating film; this covers both hot and cold films.  For this section, we will discuss cold or pressure sensitive laminating films only. These are often referred to as PSA films. A cold laminating film is comprised of a base film layer, an adhesive and a release liner. There are a variety of base films: vinyl, polyester (PET), and polypropylene (OPP) are the most common.  Base films are too numerous to list them all. The PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) may be an aqueous acrylic, solvent acrylic or even rubber based adhesive. Each company has their own standardized adhesive depending on the application. Finally, the last component is the release liner. Release liners vary from a 40lb glassine up to a 1.0 mil polyester liner. All are coated on one side with silicon to allow the laminate to be separated from the liner with ease.

The width of a specific laminating film can vary due to the width of the base films master roll width.  Most PSA films are available in a wide gamut of widths, thickness and finishes.  Most of the widths have been standardized by the industries needs.  Standard sizes available from 25” up to 61” wide rolls, with standard lengths of 150’ and 300’. 

The standard vinyl films are rated for outdoor use for a maximum duration of 1 year. As the quality of the base film and adhesive increases, so does the expected life span of the laminating film. Polyester films are not rated for long-term outdoor use as they will yellow over time. This is an inherent fact in the nature of the polyester. 

For the best results, it is highly recommended to use a wide format laminating machine in conjunction with your PSA films. The laminator in question should have a release take-up mechanism to remove the release liner as the laminating film is being applied to the printed material. Using a laminator will improve your output as well as speed up the entire process as well as eliminate many production headaches. We highly recommend the Seal brand laminators, which we delve into later in this guide.

When utilizing PSA films, one can run across a phenomenon we refer to as silvering. This appears to be a mottling in an area the adhesive did not appear to adhere to the printed media properly. This usually dissipates in a few days, however to alleviate this phenomenon we recommend to all our clients to use a modicum of heat, when applying PSA films. We normally recommend about 115-120 F, anything higher and the potential to stretch the film increases greatly. This added heat will help the adhesive flow out smoothly and potentially eliminate any silvering or mottling that may occur.

  

Several applications that utilize PSA films: 

Vehicle graphics, mouse pads, counter mats, floor graphics, window graphics, motor cross decals, racing decals, port-a-john stickers, bumper stickers, graffiti resistant signs, outdoor signs, wall murals, concrete/asphalt graphics as well as anything printed on vinyl.
               

Thermal Laminating Films – Extreme Bond Adhesive

Extreme bond nylon film is the ideal solution for single sided lamination of output from digital printing systems. The nylon substrate keeps prints curl-free during humidity changes. The extreme bond adhesive provides excellent adhesion to toner based prints. Together they ensure beautiful and long-lasting protection for your digital output.

Features:

  • Strong Adhesion - The lamination of toner-based prints is no problem with our extreme bond nylon Films. Even prints with high levels of fuser oil and wax will create a strong chemical bond with the film’s high bonding adhesive. These prints now can be laminated immediately after printing allowing for faster turn-around times.
  • Curl Free - Prints that are laminated on one side have a tendency to curl when the humidity is high, but not so with Extreme bond nylon film. This film uses a nylon substrate that adapts to changes in relative humidity. The result is a book cover, postcard or print that lies beautifully flat.
  • Market Applications: Book Covers, Postcards, Pocket Folders, Brochures and Presentation Covers
  • Finish: Available in Gloss and Matte
  • Gauge: 1.5 mil (38 micron)
  • Film Wrap: Film is wound adhesive in (PI) on all core sizes
  • Temperature Range: 250° - 285°F (120° - 140°C)

Extreme bond polyester laminating film provides a  superior adhesion and vibrant output for dry toner-based prints containing fuser oil. The high bond adhesive is engineered to create a chemical bond that enables lamination immediately after printing. It’s ideal for high volume print shops requiring fast turnarounds to meet customer demands. The combination of high bonding adhesive with a polyester substrate satisfies the needs of print providers, publishers, and consumers for durable, on-demand laminated output.

Features:

  • Strong Adhesion – Trust our high bonding adhesive for superb adhesion. Strength and field tests confirm that it is the product of choice for professional print providers. It adheres to fresh prints including those with composite colors from various digital print engines.
  • Versitile: Our high bonding adhesive runs well at a range of speeds and temperatures on both entry-level and high-speed laminators.
  • Applications – Choose our 1.7 mil for single-sided lamination and encapsulation.
  • Use 3, 5  and 10 mil for encapsulation.
  • Finish: Available in Gloss and Matte
  • Gauge: 1.7, 3, 5  and 10 mil (43, 75,125 and 250 microns)
  • Film Wrap: Film is wound adhesive in (PI) on all core sizes.
  • Temperature Range: 250-285°F (120-140°C)
  • Market Applications: Book Covers, Postcards, Pocket Folders, Brochures and Presentation Covers