The experts make the process of laminating seem amazingly simple. But when it comes right down to it, there is an art and a science as well as a relatively long learning curve that all go hand in hand to create the finished products that you see in a sign maker’s shop. So, how are laminators used in the sign industry? And what can they do for you, the business customer?
Why Laminate in the First Place?
The laminate layer provides protection to the ink that is used to imprint a marker. Without laminating signs, they may last a couple of years and – toward the ends of their lives – do not look all that great any longer. With the laminate in place, the ink is protected from the elements as well as the damage that occurs from being touched.
The Right Equipment for the Job
There are plenty of laminating machines on the market. At the office supply store’s business counter, you are usually seeing the pouch laminator. You give the clerk a paper or poster to laminate; the worker selects the appropriate pouch size and then inserts the paper into the pouch. Once inserted into the machine, the heat activates the adhesive, which then adheres to the paper and protects its. To cut off extra laminate on the outside, be sure to leave a few millimeters of material to keep the watertight seal.
Signage shops that primarily deal with foam-mounted posters or PVC-mounted decals like to rely on a roll laminator. This technology makes it possible to deal with oversized markers that simply would not fit into a pouch. When we make parking lot signs, trade show posters or the kinds of informational posters that you would place on an easel for display in a conference setting, this is the technology we prefer.
Hot or Cold? It Matters!
But there is more to laminators than just the technology that allows for small and large signs to be accommodated. In addition, there are the intricacies that involve hot, cold and dual laminate application. Knowing these differences is where we separate the experts from the one-trick-ponies in the business.
Hot laminator. This machine relies on heat to activate the adhesive. The use of an even heating method protects against bubbles and thick spots of material on the finished product. You can easily tell if the machine needs calibrating (or replacing) by unevenly heated adhesive.
Cold laminator. In this case, the laminate is applied by pressure. Unlike the hot laminator, there is no pouch to work with. Only one side of the sign receives the treatment. Thus, we like to use it with vehicle vinyl graphics where the back of the material is attached to a flat surface. We also like this type of machine for a wide variety of other adhesion needs. Post and panel markers, sidewalk signs and other signage solutions do well with this method.
Dual laminators. This is a must-have for the serious signage maker. Accommodating both the laminating needs of the vehicle graphics as well as those of the business clients in need of banners and posters, the machine offers the right type option.
We hope that you enjoyed this little glimpse behind the scenes of the daily goings on in our industry. Please call the friendly professionals at Cowtown Graphics & Signs with additional questions.