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Assessing the Variables In Laminating-Film Selection

(October 2006) posted on Tue Oct 10, 2006

Find out how to distinguish amoung the varieties of laminating, the films on the market today and learn what criteria to consider when matching overlaminates with your applications.


By Jeff Stadelman

click an image below to view slideshow

Ease of use All other factors lose their importance when the laminating film is not easy to use. Choosing the right film should make your job easier, not more difficult and time consuming. For all graphics, thickness of the laminating film plays a large role in the degree of conformability or rigidity necessary for the application. The thicker the film, the more rigid it is and the easier it is to work with when the graphic needs to lay flat and stay that way. The thinner the film, the more conformable the graphic will be in uneven or curved displays.

Finish As mentioned earlier, the clarity and uniformity of the adhesive play an active role in the finished graphic. However, varying levels of glossiness on the film must be considered in regard to the lighting in the environment where the graphic will be used. For example, a high-gloss film in a brightly lit room will cause glare, ultimately taking away from the graphic's appearance rather than adding to it. With floor graphics, choosing a finish with slip-resistance qualities is extremely important for public safety.

Public safety
Speaking of public safety, this should be everyone's responsibility—including laminating-film suppliers and printers. If a fire were to break out, the graphic should not serve as extra fuel for the fire. Be sure to know the national and regional building codes that apply to your application as it pertains to flame-resistance standards for laminating films used in public areas such as museums, bars, malls, etc. Films used in public buildings on walls or floors should be compliant with these codes.

Beyond the universal wants and needs associated with laminating films, there are a whole slew of other variables specific to pressure-sensitive films and thermal laminating films.

Pressure-sensitive laminating films

Pressure-sensitive laminating films (a.k.a. cold-roll films) are made up of three components: face stock, adhesive, and liner. The combination of these components affects the cost of the laminating film. Most suppliers offer good, better, and best packages that bring together different combinations of these components to make the selection process as simple as possible.


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