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Need To Know

Lamination equipment

From protecting printed work to adding value for the customer, lamination is a critical part of the finishing process. Here, we look at some of the latest solutions and technologies on the market

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Finish the Job

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of print service providers (PSPs) bringing finishing in-house. This trend applies to lamination in particular, with more PSPs now offering this service to their customers in-house rather than sending it out to specialist finishing houses.

The core reason for doing so is to have more control over the wider production process and ensure you are getting the quality finish you desire. Add in the fact that you will experience a higher profit margin and there is little to argue against investing in your own lamination kit.

With this in mind, Print Monthly speaks with several leading suppliers and manufacturers in this area of the finishing market to find out more about their latest solutions and how this will benefit PSPs seeking to expand their offering.

Invest in Quality

A good place to start is Vivid Laminating Technologies, whose director, Lewis Evans, says investment in a trusted and reliable brand is key. He says opting for a cheaper and lower quality machine may save costs in the short term, but the likelihood is you will encounter problems in the longer run.

“Over the years, we have probably taken out a couple of hundred overseas products that were being run without support,” Evans says, adding: “A really well-made laminator is key. If it goes wrong with a cheaper laminator, you need to start the whole project again.”

Evans says this is where manufacturers like Vivid can help. A specialist in lamination, Vivid has a range of machines on offer to the market. Evans singles out the Easymount Air 1600 as not only one of the most popular solutions from Vivid but also among the most purchased laminators in the UK.

The Easymount Air is not a new product, having been available to purchase for almost ten years now. However, Evans says its features and quality mean it remains an optimum choice for PSPs nearly a decade after its launch. Using pneumatic air pressure, it operates at up to 10m a minute and offers a mounting thickness of up to 30mm.
 
“Once you have perfected the finish with lamination and you get a nice finish, there isn’t really anywhere else to go that benefits the customer; and this is very much the case with our Easymount Air,” Evans says, adding: “It is the ideal solution for anyone running high volume work.”

“That said, we are now bringing in automated cutters on the back of the Easymount range; they sit on the back and cut work, offering more capabilities to the user.”

As for new developments, Vivid has this year launched a hybrid machine in the form of the Easymount Hybrid, which features both lamination and flatbed applicator capabilities.

Long-term Commitment

Elsewhere, D&K Europe also has several lamination options available. Commercial manager Karen Turner acknowledges that there is a wide range of laminators available, and now more than ever, cost is the first thing to be considered. She adds that hand-fed and hand-separated machines are great for short-run jobs, but labour costs need to be factored in. 

D & K Europe says lamination can play a key role in helping print stand out
 
“If you are looking for a fully automated machine, capable of handling your current output and more, it is worth investing in the best machine within your budget,” Turner says, adding: “Look at the manufacturer you are buying from; will they still be able to supply parts and service in ten or 15 years?  Well-built machines can carry on being productive for many years to come.”

If you are looking for a fully automated machine, capable of handling your current output and more, it is worth investing in the best machine within your budget


Turner goes on to say lamination can play an important role in helping print stand out. She poses several questions: in today’s highly competitive market, why should your print be chosen over that of your competitor? What is going to make it stand out? What gives it an edge?

“Of our five senses a piece of print can generally appeal to three of them: our sense of sight, touch, and smell but with 80% of our perception attributed to our sight, the visual appeal of your print is by far the most important factor,” Turner comments, continuing: “With run lengths in print continuing to reduce, the importance of investing in the most suitable and cost-effective print production method is vital.”

So, how can D&K Europe help? This year, the company will be introducing a new model in the Neptune range. This machine will be a roll-to-roll configuration, with Turner saying the manufacturer is working closely with customers to customise the basic setup to their individual needs – mostly expected to be in the label and packaging markets.
 
Also new to the range is the Europa KC, a cold laminator for applying pressure sensitive adhesive to the back of pieces such as labels, decals, and signage. Turner bills this as an alternative to buying in already adhesive-coated substrates.

“These machines are a further move to offer solutions to companies’ production processes, rather than just to commercial print finishing,” Turner comments.

Automation Equation

Elsewhere in the market is Morgana. Ray Hillhouse, vice president of sales and marketing at parent company Plockmatic, says using outdated or under-powered equipment can lead to poor quality lamination, which equals a job that reflects poorly on your business.

“Lamination is a frequently requested finish by customers to make the final product stand-out from the crowd, or to increase the longevity of the piece,” Hillhouse says, adding: “A well-thumbed cover from a manual, for instance, will not only last longer when laminated, but will also remain more attractive, and more welcoming, to the next user.

“Investing in the latest laminating equipment allows printers to take advantage of smarter, faster, easier-to-operate products designed for today’s highly 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.”

As to what PSPs should consider when investing, Hillhouse says for regular run-lengths in the hundreds or even thousands, an automated system is going to be essential. He says hand-fed solutions are too demanding of operator time, adding that more automation will leave your skilled operators more time for other tasks, leaving the laminating machine to do the “heavy lifting”.

The latest additions to Morgana’s range include the Morgana CF1200 ColorFlare entry-level laminating products. Hillhouse says both CF1200L and CF1200LX models deliver superb lamination, foiling, and holographic imaging. They feature a touch control panel, and the ‘burst separation’ system, which he says ensures clean perpendicular trims between sheets.

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

“Laminator Pro 450 is especially well suited to the on-demand printer as it is capable of foiling and spot gloss as well as straightforward laminating,” he says, adding: “The Pro 450 also features a high pile automatic feeder.

Morgana says its Laminator Pro 450 is well-suited to on-demand printers


“Measuring just 1,700mm x 730mm the compact, single-phase Laminator Pro 450 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.”

In addition, the Morgana Laminator Pro 550 is an automatic laminator for sheets of up to 550mm x 720mm and up to 400gsm in weight. The temperature is controlled by a sensor, and materials are fed by an automatic vacuum feeding system. The stand-alone unit can run at a speed of up to 25m/min.

Keep it Simple

Finally, we turn to Intelligent Finishing System (IFS). Technical sales director Jason Seaber says with the pressures placed on today’s operations by a skills shortage, ease of use is essential with all machinery in print, including laminators.

“Not only does this make training fast and smooth, it also ensures outstanding results are produced for immediate profitable production,” Seaber comments, adding: “Lamination’s ability to allow work to be completed straight away supports fast turnaround and quick delivery times.

“Operations bringing it in-house can also enjoy retaining overall control of work as well as eliminating minimum charges for short runs. There is also no need to wait for work to be sent out and returned. Quality lamination can elevate work as well as protect it. It can also aid fast turnaround times for increased responsivity and the ability to manage many more jobs.”

Available from IFS, the Foliant Vega 400 SF is designed for heavy-duty digital outputs and high volumes of offset printed sheets


On this, Seaber speaks about how IFS can help customers achieve certain finishes with the laminators it provides. When combined with the retrofittable Foliant Multi-functional Inprinting Unit, Seaber says Foliant laminators can make foiling and spot varnish fast and affordable for short-run and personalised print.

“The process transforms business cards, luxury packaging, letterheads, stationery, wedding stationery, high-end print, book covers, greeting cards, and security printing,” he explains.

Seaber also says output from the Vega, Mercury, and Taurus B3 and B2 laminators have a foil or spot UV varnish effect applied to a pre-printed area of toner. The sheet can be reprinted mono or colour, with finishes including coloured foils such as gold, silver, holographic, red, green, and a clear gloss for spot varnish.

Glancing back at the Foliant range and Seaber picks out a number of models. These include the Foliant Vega 400A, B3+ compact 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 de-curl bar and overlap system.

IFS also offers the Foliant Mercury 530NG, a 27m/min heavy-duty industrial laminating system featuring both a Heidelberg suction feeder and a high-speed bump separator as standard. In addition, the Foliant Taurus 530 NG 4X4 is 35m/min double-sided laminating system suited to higher volume double-sided lamination.

A running trend here is the importance of investing in quality kit. Committing to a higher-end laminator from trusted and reputable manufacturers and suppliers will help ensure quality results in the long run for PSPs of all shapes and sizes.


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