Lamination of Signs
I suspect that everyone has an idea of what lamination is even if you have only seen it in passing. Restaurant menus are a common example. A plastic finish is placed over the menu to protect it from food and stains. But did you know that you can laminate just about anything that is flat? If it needs to be protected and reused, it is something to consider for lamination. The laminate also makes the original material stronger and more durable. All of our signs can be laminated, but the reasons are varied and not all signs should be laminated.
A number of our customers have fondly taken to our dry erase laminate. They can have engineering plans, tables, or other diagrams printed on almost any of our substrates (for example, PVC or aluminum). Once we cover them with the dry erase laminate, it allows the users to mark up the signs with dry erase ink which can easily be wiped off. It is wonderful for talks and demonstrations.
But our primary use for laminates is to protect signs and give them longer life expectancy. For example, our UV inks used in digital printing have a life time of about 3 years before they begin to fade without lamination. But a laminate can give them an additional 2 to 3 years without fading.
We like to encourage our customers to laminate the magnetic car signs we produce, because it protects the inks from abrasions - the roads constantly kick up dirt and dust which strike the signs. You should also consider laminates for signs that are frequently taken down and put back up. Real estate signs are a perfect example. They can come easily scratched without lamination. The user can also roll the sign up after meetings and reuse it without fear of the sign becoming warn.
And finally, we like to use laminates because they give the sign a nice professional finish. There are two basic types of finishes that can be achieved from laminate: matte and gloss. Matte finishes look a bit granular and are not reflective, but they tend to make colors on the sign more striking and vivid. In contrast, gloss finishes are reflective and tend to make bright colors radiate with strong definition.
There are two basic types of laminates: hot and cold. Hot laminates are placed on signs at approximately 220 to 300 degrees F. The process is a little more expensive than cold laminates, but the laminate lasts a bit longer. Unfortunately, some inks used in digital printing will melt under the hot conditions. You also cannot use hot laminates on heat sensitive papers.
Under these conditions, cold laminators are required. They use pressure sensitive adhesives to secure the lamination film. We also use a spray laminate (cold) to protect signs when cost is an issue. Spray laminates protect the sign but do not give a gloss finish or make the material more rigid.
Written by: Tony Nagy
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