What is Lamination and Encapsulation?
“Lamination” is a fast, simple and versatile process that’s commonly used as a finishing stage in wide format printing. Its most familiar use is to put a clear protective film onto one side of documents, signs, artwork or graphics that are printed on paper or vinyl. This can then be trimmed right to the edge of the item without the bond breaking down. Pressure-sensitive or single-side heat-sensitive film is used – always in the form of rolls. Lamination can also be used to apply special effects films or in mounting printed or plain materials to board and other rigid materials. It allows you to create finished products that add a lot of value to the print stage. Examples of lamination include the protective film on the front of a business card; good quality restaurant menu; or estate agent house brochure.
“Encapsulation” is the process where low-melt film in the form of pouches or rolls is used, leaving a border of about 5mm all the way around the edge of the item to ensure the integrity of the lamination. Encapsulated items become completely waterproof and tear-proof, because the clear film is bonded all the way around the edge of the document. Trimming to the edge of an item using encapsulation film will result in the eventual breakdown of the lamination bond, hence the need for the border. Examples of this would include large and small format posters in schools, shops or at exhibitions; photos; office signs; identity badges; etc.
What are the benefits of laminating documents and prints
– Enhancement and preservation of colour and contrast to images
– Professional, quality-looking documents
– Long-term protection of documents that need frequent handling
– Quick and easy, with immediate results
– Avoid creases, wrinkles, sun damage, abrasions, tears, smudges, fingerprints and grease marks
– Protection from spills, rain and mild chemicals
What is the difference between hot lamination and cold lamination?
The adhesive on a “hot” laminating film activates when the printed graphic is run through a hot-roll laminator at temperatures between 210 and 240 degrees. “Cold” laminating films have a more aggressive adhesive that can be applied with pressure, instead of heat.
What are the benefits of hot lamination?
Thermal laminators have heated rollers that work with a heat-activated adhesive that gives a strong, permanent bond. A single-sided thermal laminator only heats the top roller, so is used for conventional single-side lamination. A dual heated roller machine can be used for encapsulation too. With thermal laminators you’ve got to be sure the machine is up to temperature before starting to use it, or the adhesive won’t activate properly. Any thermal laminator can be used with cold films simply by switching off the heater.
What are the benefits of cold lamination?
A cold-acting adhesive may be preferred because the substrate you plan to use may be damaged by heat (such as vinyl). Unheated large format laminators cost less to buy but are less flexible. The colours and quality of the printed document are typically better when you use a cold laminator. The heat of a hot laminator can cause colours to bleed or degrade. When using cold lamination you have the option of laminating only one side of a graphic, making cold laminators the best option for decals and adhesive decorations.
What do I need to consider when choosing a laminator?
Document Size – Think of the documents you’ll be laminating. Will they all be standard size or will you be laminating a range of sizes from business cards to banners? Pouch laminators are a great choice if you mostly laminate standard size documents. If you need more flexible options, a roll laminator is likely your best choice. Bear in mind that most laminators show the max width they can laminate up to.
Document Types – Consider the type of substrates you will be laminating and the finish you want to achieve as this will determine if you need a hot or cold laminator.
Daily usage – Consider how often you laminate and the amount of documents you will run at a time. If you laminate small projects (up to 15 sheets per day) a home or office pouch laminator is perfect for you. If you laminate larger quantities of large documents or odd shapes, a heavy duty, professional or roll laminator will be your best bet.
Film Thickness – Laminating film is measured in mil. The larger the mil number, the thicker the laminate will be. Smaller mils retain more flexibility, while larger mils are rigid. Pouch laminators can range from 3 mil-10 mil, which gives you a wide range a thickness options. Roll laminators typically run 1.5 mil-3 mil films.
Cost – Keep in mind that a laminator is an investment. You will need to consider the cost of not just the laminator, but film supplies as well.
We hope this information has been useful. If you still have questions we’re here to help. You can contact us on 01483 596 200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org