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Focus On

Lamination Equipment

With lamination playing an integral role in finishing off many print jobs, we take a look at some of the latest equipment in this area and analyse the key benefits of these for users

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Integral to finishing

While the primary role of lamination is to protect a piece of printed work, a quality finish can also add value to an application. Be this a business card that will be passed around at busy events, a takeaway menu taking pride of place on the fridge, or even a poster on the wall of a cinema, lamination can have a significant impact on a printed product.

Luckily for print service providers (PSPs), there is a wide range of lamination equipment on offer to the industry, with many trusted manufacturers and suppliers to work with to ensure you are investing in a solution that will meet your lamination needs.

Here, we cast an eye over some of the latest offerings on the market and look at how their new features can help users further improve the quality of output.

Smarter and Faster

First up in our analysis is Morgana Systems, which offers solutions right across the finishing spectrum. Ray Hillhouse, vice president of sales and marketing at Plockmatic, the parent company of Morgana, says investing in the latest laminating equipment allows PSPs to take advantage of smarter, faster, easier-to-operate products designed for today’s demanding short-run market.

“Perhaps more importantly, printers can feel confident that they are producing laminated work that conforms to the latest standards regarding sustainability,” Hillhouse explains, adding: “Biodegradable materials are now being increasingly seen as the way to go, so it is important that any machine installed will happily run these latest products, and at the desired speed.

“Using outdated, or under-powered equipment can certainly lead to poor quality lamination, which equals a job that reflects poorly on your business. Slower more cumbersome machines, often designed for hand feeding, can take time to master and get the best from.”

Using outdated or under-powered equipment can certainly lead to poor quality lamination, which equals a job that reflects poorly on your business

The latest addition to the Morgana laminator family is the Laminator Pro 550, an automatic laminator for sheets of up to 550 x 720mm, and up to 400gsm in weight. The temperature on the machine is controlled by a sensor, while the device automatically vacuum feeds work through the machine.

Apprintable recently invested in the Morgana Laminator Pro 450

“With its easily adjustable de-curling system and pneumatic pressure, this laminator gives the smoothest results on a wide range of stock and lamination finishes,” Hillhouse says.

Hillhouse also explains how the Morgana Laminator Pro 550 incorporates a unique oil system that he says improves lamination and reduces energy consumption. The stand-alone unit can run at a speed of up to 25 meters per minute.
“It offers excellent quality output, making it the ideal solution for all in-house commercial laminating requirements,” Hillhouse adds.

Also from Morgana are both the Laminator 450 and 450 Pro high-performance compact machines, which Hillhouse says combine speed, ease of operation, and quality, making them the ideal solution for the in-house commercial laminating requirements of many print businesses.

The Laminator Pro 450 measures 1,700mm x 730mm and, according to Hillhouse, has been designed to be both efficient and cost-effective, helping print producers to offer an all-in-one service to customers. Printers will be able to avoid the costly set-up charges and mark-ups that go with outsourcing lamination work to a trade finisher.

“Utilising its deep pile automatic suction feed system, the Laminator Pro can achieve production speeds of up to 1,875 landscape SRA3 sheets per hour, allowing printers to undertake jobs requiring higher quantities and faster turnaround times with minimal set-up, wastage, and supervision,” Hillhouse says.

Peter Haddad, managing director of Apprintable, which recently invested in the Laminator Pro 450, also speaks highly of the machine. He says: “The speed, the ease of webbing it up, and the fact that we can just let it run almost completely unattended have been the obvious benefits for our productivity.

“We laminate business cards, flyers, and point-of-sale work, as well as more unusual products such as tent cards and coffee cup sleeves. We can use matt, gloss, and soft touch finishes, and will also be adding matt biodegradable material, in keeping with our sustainability focus.”

Outstanding Results

Next up, Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) has a number of finishing options from its network of manufacturing partners. Jason Seaber, technical sales director at IFS, says new systems and solutions are often highly automated, quick to set up, and easy to use, and therefore aid operability, productivity, and job flexibility.

“Easy-to-use systems are vital, particularly when team members are required to operate a number of different systems,” Seaber says, adding: “The ability for operators to be quickly trained to produce outstanding results, immediately, allows work to be completed straight away. This fosters confidence in using the system and ensures profitable production from day one.

“Increasingly though, we see repeat orders from operations that introduced lamination a number of years ago and now offer it as a staple part of their services, or who are increasing their capacity to meet greater demand.

“The ability to add further value is also offered by Foliant laminators. The Foliant Multi-Functional Imprinting Unit uses 'Foil for Toner' to create a foiling and spot UV effect – even for variable data. As no foil blocking tools are needed the solution is quick and affordable.”

With this, Seaber talks us through some of the most popular Foliant machines available from IFS. First, the Foliant Vega 400A is B3+ industrial laminating machine designed for heavy duty digital outputs and high volumes of offset printed sheets. It features an integrated deep pile vacuum feeder and a high-speed bump separator, with non-sticky pressure roller and in-run adjustable twin decurl bar and overlap system.

Available from IFS, the Foliant Vega 400 SF offers outputs up to 38cm x 72cm

The Foliant Vega 400 SF is a compact B3+ industrial laminating machine for heavy duty in-house lamination of digital and offset outputs up to 38cm x 72cm. Equipped with integrated deep pile suction feeder, pneumatic high speed bump separator, adjustable dual decurl bar and overlap system, it has a top speed of 20m/min.

Also from IFS is the Foliant Mercury 530NG, a 27mpm heavy-duty industrial system with a Heidelberg suction feeder and a high-speed bump separator as standard. In addition, the Foliant Taurus 530 NG 4X4 is 35mpm double-sided laminating system with two laminating units for equal quality on both sides at all speeds.

Swinging back to the Foliant Multi-Functional Imprinting Unit, Seaber says this offers a cost-effective way to transform output from the Vega, Mercury, and Taurus B3 and B2 laminators.

“It makes foiling and spot varnish fast and affordable for short-run and personalised print by applying foil or spot UV varnish effect to a pre-printed area of toner,” he says, adding: “The sheet can then be reprinted mono or colour. It runs a wide range of coloured foils including gold, silver, holographic, red, green and a clear gloss for spot varnish.

“Foil can be added to un-laminated paper, or, for a more luxury feel and look, it can be added to laminate film such as ‘Soft Touch’ or ‘Anti Scuff Matt’. The process transforms business cards, luxury packaging, letterheads, stationery, wedding stationery, high-end print, book covers, greeting cards, and security printing.”

Production Efficiency

Also active in the sector is Friedheim International, which offers a range of finishing kit to customers. Marketing executive Seth Morgan says only by investing in new machines will you have access to the latest technologies and methods available to the market.

“New machines have design improvements, so production quality is a clear factor to consider; not just blemish-free laminated surfaces, but production-valuable characteristics like having zero’d static or perfectly flat sheets,” Morgan explains.

“More importantly perhaps is the improvement in production efficiency with regard to speed and energy usage: faster laminating roll warmup, new roller types that require less pressure, and software improvements that speed up setup and changeovers.

“The most obvious benefit for some is the innovation of new techniques and processes; for example, the Komfi Tandem Emboss features a laser-cut roller that is utilised to add select areas of embossing, textures and micropatterns to the laminate, to refract and control light. This can be a hugely cost-effective method to add embellishment to a laminated job.”

Speaking more about the reasons to invest in new machinery, Morgan says while customers who work with these laminators from Komfi know that they can work away for years without a fault, eventually, however, the more work that goes through it, the more wear-and-tear and component failures will begin to add cost.

“Over time, production speeds will slow and worst-case scenario, a job could be damaged,” Morgan says, adding: “Waiting even longer, users could be hampered by obsolescence or scarcity of parts, meaning what was once a great asset can become a liability.

“From a commercial point of view, the more eager investors would be able to offer a more complete printing/finishing service for the same price, and moreover be able to sell the print confidently, with fixed margins, in the knowledge this machine is under warranty.”

With this, Morgan draws attention to some of the latest laminating machines available from Friedheim International and Komfi, revealing a high level of interest in the Tandem solution because of the scales involved.

“One could always laminate a job for a negligible price increase, but with the Tandem Emboss facility the same can now be said when it comes to embellishment,” Morgan says, adding: “Being able to produce tactile finishes at the scale-cost of a laminator is game changing.