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A. There are a lot of different types of films and substrates used for varying applications. The end use application needs to determine the materials used. A vehicle wrap graphic for example should be printed and laminated using Cold UV Vinyl, while a Book cover could be printed on more economical paper and laminated using a Thermal PET. Thermal laminates are much lower cost than Cold laminates. Thermal laminating is usually both sides (encapsulation) while Cold is normally one side. Paper substrates can withstand heat and are more suitable for Thermal laminating. Vinyl substrates will melt and stretch under heat so Cold laminates are needed. Paper graphics are usually laminated using Thermal films, but can also use Cold films. Vinyl graphics are laminated using Cold films only.
Tip: For Paper Inkjet graphics it is recommended that low-melt Thermal laminating films be used.
Q. How much UV protection will my laminating film provide?
A. All laminating films will provide some protection against UV. Laminating films with additional UV absorbers and inhibitors are usually Cold laminating films (pressure sensitive roll film) intended for outdoor applications.The real color life of the graphic will still be determined primarily by the ink used. Dye based inks will fade rapidly compared to pigment based inks regardless of lamination. Lamination on average will add between 20% and 80% to the color life.
Tip: For long term outdoor graphics use pigmented inks.
Q. Why is my lamination curling up or down on my roll laminator?
A. Uneven tension between the upper and lower roll film supply. If the image is curling up there is too much tension on the upper roll supply. If the image is curling down there is too much tension on the lower roll film supply. Balance the upper and lower tension. Curling also depends on the coefficient of expansion and contraction of the material and laminate that is being used.
Tip: In general less tension is better than excessive tension. Start with less tension.
Q. Why is my thermal laminating film cloudy?
A. The adhesive is not fully melting. A full melt is achieved through a combination of the proper temperature and speed. Increase the temperature or decrease the speed.
Tip: For heat-sensitive laminating output such as inkjet we recommend decreasing the speed first. For offset and other thermal laminating or hot laminating output we recommend increasing the temperature.
Q. Why is my laminating film bubbling?
A. The temperature is too high and is “gassing” the ink. Reduce the temperature. The majority of inkjet output must be properly cured (most manufacturers recommend at least overnight). Even properly cured inkjet requires low-temperature laminating films or low melt laminating films to avoid gassing.
Tip: Slower speeds work best with lower temperatures by allowing the adhesive more time to fully melt.
Q. Why is my laminating film wrinkling?
A. The most common reason is a wavy leading edge of the image. Ensure the leading edge is cut straight and at 90 degrees, and use both hands to apply outward force keeping the leading edge taught and flat when feeding into the laminator. This may also be caused by a lack of supply roll tension. Ensure that the laminating films are tight and wrinkle free on the main laminating rollers. Apply tension evenly to the upper and lower roll films and run the laminator until there are no wrinkles.
Tip: Apply tension to the laminator brake a small amount at a time while running the laminator. The laminator may run for a couple of feet before showing the full effect of the adjustment.
Q. Why is my lamination speckled (silvering)?
A. Although most common in Cold applications, Silvering may also occur in Thermal applications. First make certain the problem is not contamination. Dust and dirt are prevalent in most environments. If using Thermal film the cause is an incomplete adhesive melt. We recommend a slower speed allowing more time for a full melt. If using Pressure Sensitive (Cold) film, silvering is basically trapped air that will dissipate on its own as the adhesive flows and cures. This will generally take 24 – 72 hours. Another cause is the image, such as inkjet, not being properly cured. If using Cold film, uncured ink may give the appearance of silvering, however it will never dissipate. If using Thermal film it will likely “gas/bubble” rather than “silver”.
Tip: A small amount of heat (up to 110F) when running Cold films improves the adhesive flow and eliminates silvering. This is referred to as “Heat-Assist”.
Q. How do I web my Thermal Laminator?
A. The easiest way to advance films through the laminator is to use a “sled”. First make certain the film rolls are properly loaded and threaded according to your Laminator’s manual. Overlap the 2 films in front of the main laminator rollers. Use a rigid piece of thin cardboard, mounting board or other substrate as a sled, run the laminator and use the sled to push the films into the main rollers. Run the laminator until the sled exits the rear.
Tip: If your laminator is a 4 roller system make certain your sled is longer than the distance between the main front rollers and the rear pull rollers. This will ensure the sled picks up the rear rollers before exiting the front rollers, eliminating a “dive” or “wrap-around”.
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