Lamination 101: Common Laminating Problems & Fixes (pt.4)

Lamination 101 is a four part series to help educate users with basic knowledge about the laminating process. This is part 4 of 4.

How can I avoid laminator film wrap-up?
By allowing 2″-3″ of lamination film to hang out of the laminator as you start your lamination job and by making sure the back of the laminator is not up against a wall, cabinet or other obstruction, you should assure wrap-free operation.

Why is my lamination turning out bubbly?
If you are using a thermal (heat) laminator, then the heat setting may be too high for the item being laminated. If the machine has a control to adjust the heat, try lowering the temperature. Also, if using a thermal pouch laminator, make sure that you are using the correct carrier for the pouch.

What causes silvering?
Silvering is caused when the adhesive not “wetting out” properly, this problem is solved by either increasing the temperature setting or slowing down the speed setting. Sometimes you may need to do both. This will promote a better adhesive flow. The same principles apply to cold laminates. A temperature setting of 110F will help wet out the adhesive and accelerate the initial bond.

Why is my lamination cloudy?
Cloudy lamination is usually the result of insufficient heat. If the machine has a control to adjust the heat, try increasing the temperature. You can also reduce the speed of the laminator, this will create longer dwell time on the heat shoes or rollers increasing the heat being transferred to the film.

Why is lamination so important on ink jet prints
Many inkjet prints (up to 75% by some estimates) are laminated. In addition to adding rigidity and protection, lamination adds to the perceived value of the print. Different films change the look of the print – intensifying colors or adding satin, textured, or high-gloss finishes.
Lamination also extends the range of products that can be created from a single large format inkjet printer. For instance, without changing inks and media, you can use different finishing materials to produce floor graphics, presentation graphics, indoor signage, P-O-P displays, and tradeshow graphics. Although lamination adds to production time and requires skilled operators, many print-for-pay inkjet shops regard finishing as an important profit center.

How long will my inkjet image last if I protect it with a UV over-laminate?
Generally speaking, over-laminates with UV inhibitors will extend the life of your image by 3-4 times. Dye-based inks, when subjected to high levels of UV radiation, can fade in as little as a few days. This means that even with a protective over-laminate, your dye-based image can be damaged in as little as 2 weeks. Pigmented inks last significantly longer than dye-based. Laminated images printed with pigmented inks can expect at least a six to twelve month outdoor lifespan without experiencing significant UV fading.

Why is laminating inkjet prints so tricky?
Many newcomers to large format inkjet printing find themselves reprinting jobs ruined when the laminating film peels away from the print (de-lamination). This is typically caused by the wrong choice of materials, or attempting to laminate inkjet prints that are not fully dry. Sometimes prints that feel dry to the touch but may not be adequately dry, due to the presence of glycol, an oily-type solvent used in nearly all water-based inks. Choosing the right film for you specific application is a key element in quality lamination. Spiral Binding sales specialists have the expertise to help you determine the right combination of products to use.

Why won’t my thermal film stick to my inkjet output?
Providing the laminator temperature and speed settings are correct, the most likely culprit is your image. Inkjet prints that are not completely dry can be very difficult to laminate even with thermal films designed for inkjet print applications. Inks contain Glycol to prevent nozzle clogging. Glycol is an oily-type solvent that is not compatible with thermal adhesives.

To improve adhesion:

  • Ink limiting will reduce your drying time. Make sure you are using the proper ink limit setting in your RIP.
  • Choose the proper media to print on. High gloss materials are difficult to laminate because most of the ink rests on the receptive coating of the material. Matte materials absorb more moisture and are therefore easier to laminate.
  • Make sure your prints are completely dry before laminating. Highly saturated prints will take longer to dry.

Premium thermal films, such as D & K Super-Stick film, have unique properties that will virtually eliminate de-lamination issues. An independent testing lab has extensively tested Super-Stick film with data submitted to the US Patent office. These test confirm that Super Stick film adheres:

  • 15 times better then regular thermal film
  • times better on inkjet prints
  • 50% better on e-stat prints
  • 4-5 times better on wet ink

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