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A Look at Film and Liquid Laminators

(December 2013) posted on Wed Nov 20, 2013

Film and liquid laminators enhance the quality, appearance, and longevity of screen- and digitally printed graphic materials.

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By Screen Printing's Solution Sourcebook

Thermal laminators generally feature a cooling apparatus between the pull rollers—they’re responsible for maintaining proper film tension and guiding the laminating process—and the laminating nip rollers. The cooling mechanism typically takes the form of chill rollers that pull excessive heat out of film and cool it to a flat state. The chill rollers are not internally cooled, but instead rely on a fan bank or group of blowers to help them dissipate heat.
Controls and adjustability Options range from simple analog systems with mechanical switches to advanced, digitally driven systems with touchpad controls and digital readouts.

Speed Throughput is always a concern in a graphics shop, but running laminators at slower speeds often gives a higher guaranteed success rate of throughput and gives operators time to focus on more efficient ways to trim prints after they exit the laminator. Running a laminator too fast brings the risk of wrinkling, and high speeds will prevent proper bonding if too little pressure and heat are applied.

Safety features Physical hand guards are essential and must be difficult to defeat. Some guards feature lay-down strips that help keep prints flat. Electronic eyes sound an alarm when an operator comes too close to the nip assembly. Emergency stops (e-stops) are also critical and should be easily accessible on all four sides of a laminator.

Thermal laminating films
Thermal laminating films offer many of the same qualities as pressure-sensitive films, such as protection against UV light, glare, fingerprints, and oils. They also add rigidity, depth, and color vibrancy. However, construction and application of the films differ.

Thermal films initially seem less expensive because they do not require a liner. The downside is that laminating equipment for applying these films is more expensive. Additionally, these films require encapsulation (application to both sides of a graphic). These factors can make pressure-sensitive films a less expensive choice overall.


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