Typically laminating is the most overlooked step in the graphic production process. When done properly, you can get a beautiful print with long lasting durability, but when done incorrectly, it can lead to application failures.

There are many different types of laminators available. Some of the most sophisticated laminators will have much larger (lowers) which helps avoid wrinkles. They will also have room for multiple options, such as slowers, heat assessed, and multiple take-ups.

In this video we will be demonstrating proper laminating techniques for pressure-sensitive laminates, on a base level model without heat assessed. Something commonly found in many sign shops.

A mistake at the laminating stage can lead to visual defects or application failures and typically means reprinting, reworking and completely redoing the job. That means it costs new money.

First and foremost – make sure that your working environment is clean, and that you have properly cleaned your rollers. This is usually done with a tack cloth. Avoid using any types of cloths that contain alcohol. Over time this may dry your rollers out and eventually crack the rubber coating.

The keys to a successful lamination are alignment and heat management. The critical first step is to get the print properly aligned with your laminate, so that everything feeds straight.

Pressure sensitive laminates are designed for cold application, so heat is not necessary during lamination. However, many users like to use just enough heat to minimize silvering, which is a normal occurrence that usually disappears within 24 hours.

If you do use heat, maintain a temperature between 100F – 120F.

As the print feeds through, maintain a proper amount of tension to keep the laminate from wrinkling on the roller.

Too much heat, combined with too much tension, can cause overstretching. You can see here how the laminate is no longer lined up with the print. This is known as hour glassing, and is the most common error seen when laminating.

To avoid this and to ensure a smooth application, feed continuously and steadily until the entire piece is laminated.

If you follow these steps, it will lead to a great looking finish and a successful application.

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Kelly Kwo

Kelly started her career in 2000, working with a global provider of large-format advertising. Kelly was involved in a high-profile project developing large digital printers to output high-resolution graphics, which was unheard of at the time. Eager to expand on her knowledge, she joined the manufacturing side of the sign and graphics industry in 2006 when she joined Arlon.

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Kelly Kwo

Kelly started her career in 2000, working with a global provider of large-format advertising. Kelly was involved in a high-profile project developing large digital printers to output high-resolution graphics, which was unheard of at the time. Eager to expand on her knowledge, she joined the manufacturing side of the sign and graphics industry in 2006 when she joined Arlon.

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