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Laminating Media for Wide-Format Graphics

Media range from hot to cold, to sprays, liquids, and films.

Big Picture

You've purchased a laminator and advertised your new laminating service to customers. Now, of course, you need laminating media to begin protecting your large-format graphics. Start with your laminator manufacturer"?the laminator OEM may sell laminating supplies. This media should also be matched to the machine you've purchased. But if you want another source or wish to try different types of laminating media, The Big Picture has compiled a sampling of film manufacturers and third-party private-labeled wide-format laminating media suppliers. This list includes all types of wide-format laminates"?from liquids and sprays to pouches and films (cold-laminating pressure-sensitive and heat-activated and low-temp thermal films).

Advanced Greig Laminators (AGL)

www.aglaminators.com

Features a wide range of thermal and pressure- sensitive laminating films. Low-temp films include matte, gloss, luster/satin, hard coat, texturized, and economy; translucent, white light-blocking, and black opaque backing films are also offered.

Advantage Distribution

www.advantagedistribution.com

Offers Advan-Tac Economy Laminating Films, which include LusterLam-UV, High Gloss PolyLam, Velvet Polycarb, Clear Rigid Vinyl backer, Clear Dry-Erase, and Crystal Texturized laminates.

Advantage Sign Supply

www.advantagesignsupply.com

Features Optima low-melt 3- and 5-mil polyester laminating film and 1- to 5-mil pressure-sensitive (gloss, satin, matte, crystal, frosted) laminates.

All Graphics Supplies & Signmaking Supplies

www.allgraphicsupplies.com

Sells rolls of thermal and pressure-sensitive laminate media (up to 55 in. wide and in gloss, luster, matte, and clear finishes), as well as liquid and spray laminates.

Arlon

www.arlon.com

Offers several overlaminate films, including its latest: Series 3320 Ultra PVF, a 1-mil semigloss Tedlar polyvinyl fluoride film. Also features crystal, matte, and satin laminates.

Aslan-Schwarz

www.aslan-schwarz.com

Offers a variety of self-adhesive laminating films, including PP, PVC, polyester antigraffiti, and floor-graphics films, in a variety of finishes.

Avery Dennison

www.averygraphics.com

Features a range of pressure-sensitive DOL overlaminates with glossy, matte, or luster finishes. In addition, it also offers Perforated Window Film, Embossed Floor Graphics overlaminates, and Gloss Teflon Graffiti- Resistant Overlaminates.

CalComp Graphic Solutions

www.calcompgs.com

This company's Artisan laminates come as pressure-sensitive and thermal laminates, in gloss, satin, matte, or clear, and in thicknesses from 1 to 15 mil.

ClearStar Coatings

www.clearstarcorp.com

Manufactures liquid laminates: Clear- Shield for solvent-based inks, and ClearJet for dye-based (water-soluble) inks. Both also work on e-stat, thermal-transfer prints, and vinyl graphics/lettering. ClearShield comes in gloss, semigloss, matte, and satin finishes, along with an anti-graffiti clear. ClearJet is available with a gloss or semigloss finish. ClearJet Fine Art offers gloss, semigloss, and low-gloss options.

Coda

www.codamount.com

Offers a variety of laminating films, including ThermaPro low-melt film (gloss, satin, or backing film, 3 to 10 mil thick), and pressure-sensitive Cold-Mount Overlaminates (glossy, luster, or matte rolls; canvas, parchment, or stipple sheets).

Continental Milano Imaging Products

www.milanoinc.com

Features a variety of thermal laminates and pressure-sensitive films. Thermal laminates include Crystal Guard Velvet Textured; DI gloss, satin, and matte; Light Blocker; Low Lustre; and Textured Imaging. Pressure-sensitive choices include UV matte, luster, and gloss; Hard Vinyl; Poly- Gloss; Dry Erase; and PolyCarb. Also offers ProTect lamination spray.

D&K Group

www.dkgroup.com

Expressions thermal laminating films, designed for wide-format images, come in a variety of thicknesses (1.7 to 10 mil) and finishes (including gloss, semigloss, and matte). Offers Expressions thermal lowtemperature 3- or 5-mil laminates in gloss, luster, and matte finishes. Also offers pressure-sensitive overlaminates in UV gloss, luster, and matte, as well as Polycarbonate, a UV Vinyl Textured, and UV Hardcoat Gloss.

Daige

www.daige.com

Sells Rollaguard gloss and satin waterbased coating for its EZGlide laminators.

DCP Systems

www.dcp-systems.co.uk

Its Giclee Varnish is a nonyellowing, waterbased protective clearcoat that can be applied with a brush and can mimic the artist's original brushstrokes. In gloss, satin, and matte finishes.

Dr. Graphix Imaging

www.drgraphix.com

WeatherSeal vinyl laminating films come as gloss and matte pressure-sensitive films.

Drytac

www.drytac.com

Offers a variety of overlaminate films, including Interlam (pressure-sensitive indoor), Protac UV (pressure-sensitive), WeatherShield UV (outdoor), MediaShield (thermal), and MHL (low-temp thermal). MediaShield Canvastex UV overlaminating film adds canvas-like look to paper. Its ArtShield UV line of HeatSet laminating films are pre-perforated and include gloss, satin, and matte surfaces, as well as special textured films in canvas, pebble, and linen.

DuroTech Adhesive Products

www.durotechcorp.com

Produces pressure-sensitive overlaminate films such as DuroGloss, DuroMatt, Duro- Luster, DuroScuff RV, DuroSheen, and DuroMark for dry-erase applications.

Eastech

www.eastechdigital.com

Offers a wide range of self-adhesive laminating films in widths from 39 to 60 in. and with ultra gloss, gloss, matte, satin, satin matte, textured, laser-effect, polycarbonate, and white finishes.

Elmer Products (formerly Hunt Corporation)

www.hunt-corp.com

This company's Bienfang products include Finish Guard UV Laminating Films. These thermal films are available in gloss, luster, satin matte, ultra matte, canvas, and linen finishes. The films are available prepierced (to allow release of trapped air) and nonpierced, in 25 to 41-in. rolls, and are designed to be applied with a mounting press or roll laminator.

Epic Products

www.epiclam.com

Features a variety of thermal laminates (1.3 to 5 mil), heavy-duty thermal laminates (5 to 10 mil), and pressure-sensitive laminates (2 to 5 mil) in gloss, matte, luster, and texturized finishes.

Flexcon

www.flexcon.com

Features FLEXstat (for electrostat images), and BUSart (for transit advertising), as well as a variety of Classic Plus Select, FLEXmark, and JetBond overlaminates. The latest addition is JetBond 41218, a 1-mil, UV-blocking, pressure-sensitive, polyester overlaminate.

GBC

www.gbcconnect.com

Makes many laminates, including Accu- Shield thermal films, SecurFilm (a printable laminating film), Arctic pressure-sensitive films, and Octiva thermal films. Its latest offerings include Octiva Lo-Melt Canvas Textured film, Arctic Floor Mat, Arctic UV Sand, Arctic Textured Satin, and Arctic Light Barrier.

General Formulations

www.generalformulations.com

Concept Laminating products are General Formulations' pressure-sensitive, adhesive- coated films that provide protection from UV exposure, moisture, and handling. Concept features products that offer highgloss, luster, matte, and texturized finishes and are 1 to 5 mil thick.

Graphic Laminating

www.graphiclaminating.com

It offers Durafilm thermal and pressuresensitive laminating films. The Low-Melt Durafilms come in glossy, satin, and matte. Graphics-arts grade Durafilm is available as glossy, satin, matte, and low curl. Photo-Grade Durafilms are glossy, matte, or satin.

Hahnemuhle

www.hahnemuhle.com

Lumijet ImageShield spray laminate is transparent, fast-drying, and nonyellowing.

HOP

www.hop.ca

Clear, thermal lamination films available in rolls up to 27 in. wide.

Ibico

www.ibico.com

For its laminator line, it produces ColorMaster polyester-based, low-temp thermal films, and Image Guard vinyl films with a pressure-sensitive acrylic adhesive.

Ilford Imaging

www.ilford.com

Ilfoguard thermal and pressure-sensitive laminating films in gloss, luster, matte, and scruff-resistant finishes. Pressure-sensitive laminates include Coldlam UV, Coldlam UV Extreme (outdoor), and Coldlam Universal; and Hotlam laminates are heat-activated. Also offers Encap encapsulating and backing films.

Impaco Digital Imaging Products

www.impaco.com

Offers pressure-sensitive vinyl and polycarbonate films in matte, luster, gloss, and scratch-resistant finishes.

InteliCoat

www.magicinkjet.com

Magic Fluorex Transfer Protection (DMFTP) is an ultra-thin, 4-micron transferable fluoropolymer designed for inkjet imaging which provides a protective finish. Application is similar to an electrographic drytransfer technique.

Also PrintLam is a printable polyester laminate with a dual-purpose adhesive/ image-receptive coating. For use with both indoor and outdoor graphics, PrintLam is a 4-mil thermal-activated laminate that is available in rolls from 36 to 54 in. wide.

Kapco Graphic Products

www.kapcographics.com

Offers pressure-sensitive (vinyl, polyester, Tedlar, and polycarbonate) and thermal (low-melt and heat-assist) laminates in a variety of thicknesses and finishes.

Lamotex

www.lamotex.com

Offers thermal (1.7 to 10-mil) and pressure- sensitive (1 to 4-mil) laminates.

LexJet Direct

www.lexjet.com

Features a number of pressure-sensitive laminates including GraphicsGuard, PreLume DisplayFlex, ExhibitGuard, and ArmorGuard; and low-melt thermal laminates such as DisplayGuard and CrystalEmboss. New products include: PreLume T-Flex, an 8-mil textured, copolymer overlaminate film.

Lyson

www.lyson.com

Offers Lyson Print Guard spray lacquer laminate in satin or gloss, slow or fast dry.

MacDermid ColorSpan

www.colorspan.com

Offers cast and calendered vinyl pressure-sensitive laminates in gloss, matte, and satin finishes.

Mactac

www.mactac.com

Features Thermacolor thermal films (3 to 10 mil, high-gloss, satin, matte, and textured) and PermaFlex/PermaGuard pressure-sensitive overlaminating films (1.2 to 15 mil, high-gloss, gloss, semigloss, luster, semi-matte, matte, textured).

Neschen-Accutech

www.neschenusa.com Filmolux pressure-sensitive, self-adhesive laminates are available in a wide variety of finishes for many applications. New products include Filmolux White Backer and Filmolux Hard Coat. Accu-cure UV lacquer liquid laminate (for use on inkjet, electrostatic, photographic, dye-sub) was designed to meet the demands of outdoor and transit graphics, and is available at www.neschen-accutech.com.

Oce

www.oceusa.com

Offers clear, heat-activated 3- and 5-mil laminates; 6.5- and 10-mil pressure- sensitive laminates; and 3-mil satin heat-activated laminates.

Optima International

www.optima-int.com

New products include Giclee Elixir liquid laminate, Optima Fusion XE liquid for protection of dye-sub images (with a 15-year guarantee) and the second generation of Aqua Max liquid laminate, which offers a 35-year guarantee.

Oracal

www.oracal.com

Features Oraguard laminating media. Includes PVC film, Polyester, Polyvinyl Fluoride, Premium PVC Cast film, and Optically Clear PVC Cast film. Thicknesses vary from 2.5 to 6.5 mil and finishes include gloss, semigloss, matte, transparent, high-gloss, and textured.

Protect All

www.protect-all.com

Manufactures thin to heavy-gauge polyester, polypropylene, and nylon thermal laminating films for one- and two-sided applications, with clear, matte, or satin finishes. Also texturized films such as Taffeta (with a heavy linen texture) and Deep Silk (with a fine, sandy appearance). New color-tinted Pazzazz films.

Quality Mounting & Laminating Systems (QMLS)

www.qmls.com

Offers Instashield and Exhibit Shield pressure- sensitive laminating film, Hard Guard and Digi Guard thermal laminating film, and Duraguard heat-set laminating films. Also features ClearShield, water-based, semigloss clear liquid laminate.

R Tape

www.rtape.com

Eclypse Overlaminating Films are polyester or PVC pressure-sensitive films, in gloss, matte, satin, and luster finishes, and in thicknesses from 1 to 15 mil. It recently broadened the Eclypse line to include PET1-G (1-mil), PET2-G (2-mil), and Mar- Resistant PVC films.

Remington Laminations

www.remingtonlaminations.com

Offers a variety of pressure-sensitive and thermal laminates. Features the RemiCrystal family of embossed pressure-sensitive film laminates that are sold in 3 to 15-mil thicknesses and have a permanent solventacrylic adhesive. The heat-activated films range from 1.5 to 10 mil thick and come in gloss, satin, matte, and luster finishes.

Repro Technology

www.reprotechnology.com

Coverlam CL is a glossy thermal copolymer film with an aggressive adhesive, low-melt temperature, and is available in 1.8 to 10- mil thicknesses.

Roland DGA

www.rolanddga.com

Offers Performance Guaranteed Media overlaminates in cast, calendered, and Teflon with gloss or semigloss finishes.

Royal Sovereign International

www.royalsovereign.com

Offers a variety of thermal and pressure-sensitive laminating media in widths up to 57 in. and in gloss, matte, and clear finishes.

Seal Graphics

www.sealgraphics.com

Offers a variety of laminating options including: heat-activated films (Jet Guard, ThermaShield), heat-set films (Print Guard), pressuresensitive films (Print Shield, Seal Write), clearcoats (AquaSeal), and laminating pouches (Pouch Boards, Laminating Pouches). All products come in a variety of finishes. Seal Jet Guard is a family of lowtemperature, heat-activated laminating films for inkjet, photographic, and e-stat media that provide UV protection, are linerless, and work well in both overlaminating and encapsulation applications. AquaSeal clearcoats, in Anti-Graffiti, Fleet, Anti-Glare, Sign & Banner, and Economy Sign & Banner, are compatible with most solvent-based inkjet and e-stat graphics. Laminating Pouch Boards allow users to laminate and mount in one process to produce signs, displays, and presentations.

3M Commercial Graphics

www.scotchprint.com

Offers a variety of laminates for printed graphics: liquid clearcoats, pressure-sensitive, and heat-activated. 3M Piezo Ink Jet Protective Clear 8530 is a high-luster gloss liquid laminate for use on fleet graphics, banners, and interior and exterior signage. 3M Scotchcal High Gloss Graffiti-Resistant Overlaminate is a pressuresensitive film for electrostatic prints. Scotchcal Hot Transfer Flexible Overlaminate is a high-gloss, heat-activated film for banners, awnings, signs, and curtain-sided vehicle material.

Transilwrap

www.transilwrap.com

Features a variety of laminates in widths up to 76 in. and in satin, matte, gloss, display luster, display white opaque, and hard-coat luster finishes. Its latest offering includes low-melting-point TransKote DigiKote laminating films and a satin, pressure-sensitive overlaminate for its WalkerTalker floor decals.

Triangle Coatings

www.tricoat.com

Produces several liquid laminates. LiquiLam is a glossy, solvent-based, clear acrylic polymer designed to protect inkjet prints on watercolor paper or other highly absorbent paper. ClearFlex is a clear urethane coating to protect digital artwork on vinyl and wallpaper, available in gloss or matte. Fleet ClearFlex is for fleet/vehicle graphics and Bulldog Ultra protects digital fine art; both are available in gloss, semigloss, and matte.

Ultimate Imaging Supplies

www.ultimateimaging.com

Offers Ultimate Laminates, including vinyls, and polycarbonates, pressure-sensitive, and low-melt thermal laminates.

USI

www.usi-laminate.com

Features pouches (up to 25 x 37 in.), and pouch boards (ProMount and UltraMount, up to 41 x 61 in.), in gloss, satin, and luster finishes. Thermal and pressure-sensitive roll laminating films include Opti-Clear, and DigiSeal (low-temp).

Valspar

800-662-2350 or aquaguard@valspar.com

It produces Aquaguard liquid laminate, designed for use with inkjet and e-stat prints, interior and exterior usage, and on a variety of substrates, including paper, vinyl, canvas, and self-adhesive vinyl. The 100 series (which comes in gloss, luster, and matte finishes) is for indoor and outdoor graphic usage without heavy abrasion; the 500 series (in gloss and matte finishes) is for use with heavy abrasion.

Varitronic Systems

www.varitronicsystems.com

ProFinish line offers cold-laminating ProFinish and ProFinish XL Dual-Sided Laminate media, as well as one-side laminate/oneside mounting adhesive product.

Xyron

www.xyron.com

Offers one- and two-sided laminate films up to 44 in. wide, for use with its Xyron 4400 cold laminator.

Laminate Basics

If you've just bought your first laminator, you might not be familiar with laminating terminology. Here are some terms to help you get used to the "lingo."

As noted in Jake Widman's article, "Protecting the Value of Your Output" (Sept. 2004, p. 60), the type of laminator purchased will dictate the type of media used. However, manufacturers often use different terms for the same type of media.

Thermal laminating is the same as hot lamination, and typically involves temperatures more than 212"?; thermal media is typically lower in cost than pressure-sensitive or self-adhesive materials.

Low-temp (or low-melt or heat-activated) all mean the laminates are activated by a lower temperature than high-temp laminating media, typically less than 212"?.

Pressure-sensitive (also referred to as cold lamination) means that no heat is necessary for lamination. These "tacky" films rely on roller pressure to achieve good adhesion; most PS media are higher in cost than thermal laminates.

Laminate pouches are simply envelopelike pouches into which the graphics are placed; the pouches may work with either a hot or cold laminator. Pouches are used with typically smaller-sized machines and are useful when companies only need infrequent lamination of smaller items.

Spray laminates are just applied by hand; the spray can is typically expensive, but good for infrequent lamination needs.

Finally, liquid laminates or clearcoats cost the least of all laminating choices, but a print provider must have a large clean area where the print can dry. Clearcoats can be applied by hand or machine, but not all are compatible with all inks.

Laminate Substrates

The laminate media can be made out of many different substrates, including these common ones:

Polycarbonate"?very tough, clear film, typically sold in heavier gauges for floor graphics (excellent slip resistance), instore images (velvet texture eliminates glare from lights), and trade-show graphics; very expensive.

Polyester (PET)"?rigid, strong, outdoordurable, and relatively inexpensive; this is the base for most thermal films.

Polypropylene (OPP or PP)"?good durability, clarity, chemical-resistance, can be used outdoor but scratches easily; moderate temperature resistance.

Polyvinyl chloride (vinyl or PVC)"?more flexible than polyester, but also less dimensionally stable; base for most low-temp and cold laminates; many finishes available; suited for top-coating vinyl media.

Polyvinyl fluoride (PVF)"?tough film that can be used outdoor and cleaned with solvents used to remove spray paint (graffiti); very expensive.

Film Finishes

Each manufacturer may use its own terminology, but here are the most common finish terms with their most common definitions:

Gloss/Clear"?clear finish that is shiny and reflective, but brings out color on the graphics.

Matte"?non-reflective, glare-free, slightly frosted finish that has a slightly granular look, but may make image colors more vivid.

Satin"?offers reduced glare and a soft sheen.

Luster"?has a reduced glare but a sparkling sheen (between glossy and matte); minimizes reflections without the loss of image sharpness.

Texturized"?a finish that appears to be a certain type of texture, such as canvas, sand, etc.

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