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Liquid Courage: Coating Technology for Print Protection

(February 2008) posted on Wed Feb 13, 2008

Liquid lamination offers graphics producers the ability to protect prints at a competitive cost and minimize waste and labor in finishing. Read on to find out more about the technology and the applications for which it is suited.

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By Ben P. Rosenfield

The cost of using liquid coatings as alternatives to film-based laminates is one of the factors that has brought increased attention to liquids. According to Conrad, protecting graphics with liquid laminates can cost as little as $0.02-0.03/sq ft on applications such as short-term displays and as much as $0.30-0.38/sq ft—or more—on demanding, long-term applications, such as digitally printed wall coverings.

As Harris puts it, “For film laminates, calendared could cost $0.35/sq ft and cast could cost $0.50-0.60/sq ft or more. You have a big cost savings with liquid laminates.”

The price of consumables is but one consideration. Tatum says waste and handling are other details that must not be overlooked.

“Every film-laminated print you do has to be webbed into a laminator, and you can’t get perfectly sized films for each print, because they’re not sold that way. So you’ve got an excessive amount of waste around the print, and that all has to be trimmed, so there’s more labor involved in it,” he explains. “Also, the speed of liquid-laminator operation is much faster. And now you factor in no trimming and no waste—it’s huge.”


Time to give it a shot?

Conrad says lamination in general is still primarily the domain of inkjet printing. But now that digital imaging technology has become a fixture in many screen shops, the time may be right for you to explore solutions for protecting the graphics you produce on your wide-format inkjet printers. The price of buying largely depends on the type of liquid laminator. UV systems are typically more costly up front than those that apply water-based coatings, basically because they use UV-curing lamps and are configured to process printed substrates very quickly. In some cases, a UV coater may be just slightly less expensive than a water-based system five times its width.

“The cost of entry is a lot less painful in water-based coating systems; however, once you eat that pain, so to speak, to get into a UV system, the speed, cost of coating, stackability—all of those benefits are on the UV side. The only negative is that the UV coatings are not going to be as flexible as water-based coatings,” Tatum says.

The ultimate goal remains the same, regardless of which type of laminator you select: to guard your digitally printed graphics. Investing in this technology will put you in a better position to protect your bottom line, defend your position in a competitive market, and seal deals with new clients.



Sources for Liquid Laminators and Coatings


Advanced Finishing Solutions

1939 Tate Blvd. SE

Hickory, NC 28602




BullDog Products, Inc.

15368 El Prado Rd.

Chino, CA 91710




Daige, Inc.

1 Albertson Ave.

Albertson, NY 11507


fax: 516-621-1916



H&H Digital Products

1724 Elmhurst Rd.

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007


fax: 847-228-1689




Keundo Bldg.

726-1, Yoksam-dong

Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 135-080



fax. 82-2-552-7145




Lumina Coatings Intl.

3843F 44 Ave.

Camrose, Alberta T4V 3T1



fax: 866-220-6438



Neschen Americas

7091 Troy Hill Dr.

Elkridge, MD 21075


fax: 410-579-8960



Optima Int’l

1291 High St. Ste. J

Denver, CO 80218





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