Friday, 24 Apr 2015 07:55 GMT

Laminating Equipment

With an increasing number of print companies opting to bring finishing in-house, Rob Fletcher looks at the latest technology on the market that could help build up the laminating sector

If you build it, they will come

If you ask most people why they prefer a piece of print over a digital copy, more often than not they will tell you that they like the feel of holding print in their hand. And while paper type has a lot of say in this matter, lamination is also a factor that can help improve the feel of a print.

This has not gone unnoticed by manufacturers in the industry, who have responded strongly by rolling out a whole host of solutions to help print companies offer the best quality finished products as possible. Couple this with the fact that more printers are bringing finishing in-house, and the market is as busy as ever.

With this in mind, what sort of new technology is available in the market and how can it help printers boost their finishing services to offer customers a real, quality piece of work?

Major-league benefits

Watkiss Automation is one company heavily involved with the lamination sector. Paul Attew, sales director at the firm, says bringing such services in-house can offer printers a number of major benefits.

He explains: “More and more printers are bringing lamination in-house, and the reason is simple; run lengths are getting shorter and so are the delivery times demanded by customers. On short runs, the cost of outsourcing is too high and the inevitable delays that go with it are unacceptable. In addition, modern laminators are much easier to operate.

O Factoid: Cloudy lamination is usually the result of insufficient heat or using a film that is too thick. Bubbling or rippling, however, is usually caused by the heat being too high. O

“The benefits of bringing lamination in-house are primarily control of costs and delivery times, but also the flexibility to target different types of work, clients, and run lengths. And by bringing finishing in-house, you also have the potential to bring the profit in-house.”

With this in mind, Attew draws attention to some of the lamination kit on offer from Watkiss that could help such companies boost their services. With Watkiss the exclusive UK distributor for Italian manufacturer Mamo, Attew first points in the direction of the Mamo Plasti 350ASP, one of the more popular products on offer from the firm.

Available from Watkiss Automation, the Plasti 350 ASP is an automatic roll laminator that the firm says is well-suited to using BOPP laminating film

Attew comments: “The Plasti 350 ASP is an automatic roll laminator with a high pile suction feeder. It includes automatic overlap and separation systems. It is ideally suited to using BOPP laminating film, thanks to adjustable temperature and speed to produce a perfect result on all kinds of digitally printed paper. It is the perfect solution for small print shops that need to in-source laminating operations; or for commercial printers who need to process low volume digitally printed stock.”

Attew also highlights the Mamo Plasti 1100, a reel laminator designed to be used both with hot and cold films, and either for single or double side lamination, which Watkiss says makes it both flexible and versatile.

Also on offer from Watkiss Automation, the Mamo Plasti 1100 is a reel laminator designed to be used both with hot and cold films, and either for single or double side lamination

Taking control

Terry Cooper Services (TCS) is an-other company involved in this sector, with the supplier boasting a host of lamination solutions within its port-folio. Chris Cooper, managing director, is keen to highlight the benefits of bringing this part the process in-house.

Once you take the decision to bring the job in house you take full control of it

Cooper comments: “Once you take the decision to bring the job in house you take full control of it—all the logistical problems of collection and delivery, delays, excuses, damage, and short returns are all gone. You can now take on shorter run lengths as these are now more cost effect. You may even offer the lamination process without an added charge but to purely add value to which is already a quality print job.”

Leading immediately on from this, Cooper highlights the range of kit on offer from TCS—in particular its selection of lamination equipment from Bagel, of which it is UK supplier of. Weighing in on the conversation, Bagel’s commercial director Jordi Marti explains just how this technology can help printers.

Marti says: “We are re-inventing film loading systems on laminating equipment. Our new film loader allows multiple reels at once. It becomes extremely handy on high frequency jobs changeovers, which the case on digital printing. If you need to jump from matt to gloss, then back to matt or/and soft touch continuously, you could have them all loaded. Each one is just one click away.

“Additionally, we understand the printer has to have a fully equipped solution. Thus all our solutions offer as standard the most crucial options available and much more; an expansible shaft for quick film loading, oil heated rollers, an auto buttons (which starts the laminating process by only pressing one button), or even an auto-safe film threading button, avoiding the risk of burning your fingers during film set up.”

Smooth production

On the subject of suppliers, Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) is also well-stocked with a host of solutions in the lamination sector. Technical sales representative, Lee Fowler, says print companies that do not already have this capability in-house should seriously consider doing so.

Fowler advises: “As well as the time and cost savings, the benefits of bringing solutions in-house can also facilitate smoother, more flexible production. To achieve that consistently and reliably requires robust, easy to use, automated solutions. Operators have to be adept at using a number of systems in the bindery, so a system that can provide simple, fast push button set up will enable business to add value by adding services.

“Affordable and easy to run, auto-mated laminating machines have enabled more printers to bring lamination in-house. At IFS we have a broad range of Foliant Laminators from an entry level B3 format machine to B1 trade production machines.”

Included in this range is the Foliant Gemini C400A B3 automatic laminator, which Fowler says was the supplier’s best-selling machine, as well as the B2 Foliant Taurus 530SF that is also proving popular with customers at present.

The Foliant Vega 400A is one of many laminating options on offer from IFS

Fowler expands: “The latest automatic Foliant Laminators feature deep-pile feeders to save on loading times, intuitive ‘icon’ based touch screens for fast and easy make-ready and a non-stick lamination pressure roller to save any down-time in cleaning.

“A key trend is the embracing of different textures and finishes. Foliant offers an ‘embossing module’ to finish in different textures. Foliant is a pro-active manufacturer with another opt-ion being the ‘non sticky’ lamination roller to enable window lamination using standard OPP film. This will appeal to the packaging market.”

Komfi with lamination

Friedheim International is another supplier heavily involved in the laminating sector, mainly the range of machines on offer from manufacturer Komfi. Stuart Bamford, national sales manager for post-press products, says these machines offer users a reliable solution for their laminating needs.

Bamford comments: “Friedheim is proud to represent Komfi laminating equipment in the UK, and the wide range of machines on offer should mean that there is a model available to suit most companies and their different job requirements.

“Most importantly, Komfi laminating machines are very reliable due to their design and excellent build quality, and with very little down-time this ultimately helps with achieving great productivity. So, if you’re already into laminating, but wish to take the next step up, or thinking of bringing laminating in-house for the first time, come and talk to us at Friedheim and discover what we can offer.”

Leading on from this, André Hilkens, manager of Komfi Europe, also highlights the various benefits of using its equipment in the lamination process.

Hilkens says: “All Komfi equipment is designed for professional use and therefore such key processing units inside a printing company or finisher have to be of top quality build and include the latest technology. Komfi’s laminator range starts at professional entry-level units and continues up to high-end and 24/7 capable lamination systems.

“One of the latest developments focuses on easier separation of PET and Nylon laminating film. In general, these types of film are not so easy to separate but with our new ‘flying knife and hot knife’ options, this becomes as easy as separating standard OPP film. 

“Also, with the hot knife, there is an additional advantage of minimising so-called ‘flagging’. Komfi also permanently works on software improvements with regard to easy machine adjustment and trouble-shooting, but this is part of regular machine up-dates.”

Savings on costs

Elsewhere, as its name might suggest, Vivid Laminating Technologies also has a host of options on offer in this area. Marketing communications manager, David Smith, highlights the cost-savings benefits of bringing lamination in-house as one of the main reasons for printers to invest in such kit.

Smith explains: “Laminating in-house has massive cost-savings to the end user and it also means that you can get your job back to the customer quicker. You don’t have to wait for the print finisher to collect the job or waste valuable time and fuel by taking the job to them. Your prints won’t be in a queue with other jobs and you can start and finish the job when you’re ready.

“Our Matrix range of SRA3 and B2 laminators are Europe’s No.1 system. They’re manufactured in the UK to a very high standard and offer a brilliant return on investment. It’s pointless buying a poor quality laminator and pairing this with a high quality litho or digital printer. All you’re left with is a great print, which has been badly finished.”

Expanding on the Matrix range on offer from Vivid, Smith points to the three new pneumatic Matrix laminating systems that were unveiled at Ipex last year.

He comments: “All three systems have pneumatic laminating rollers, which means they can run up to twice the speed and give a superior bond to the prints. Standard laminating film, normally used on litho prints, can now also be used on digital prints. There is again a cost saving involved, as standard film is generally half the price of digital film. The pneumatic Matrix Systems are available as single-sided SRA3, single-sided SRA3/B1 and double-sided SRA3/B1.”

Smith also highlights the new patented Flatbook technology for perfect and PUR bound book covers. A cutting accessory for the Matrix, Smith says Flatbook eliminates book cover curl by removing a channel of OPP film, which in turn allows glue to stick to the spine instead of the laminate.

Flatbook is a new patented cutting accessory from Vivid Laminating Technologies for use in perfect and PUR bound book cover work on Matrix machines

Due to hit the market soon is the new Matrix take-up unit for collecting waste film while the entire Matrix range will have been enhanced with new air-flow technology to help boost delivery of laminated sheets into the catcher.

Vivid has a whole host of laminating solutions on offer within

So, it seems that print companies considering bringing lamination in-house are well catered for in terms of the technology available. With solutions on offer from manufacturers and suppliers across the industry, maybe it is time for your business to expand its horizons and bring laminating in-house to really benefit from this part of production.

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