As labs look to find new ways to be as pliable as possible, many are taking a look back to where they have experienced growth in the past with mounting and laminating services. Mounting and laminating as well as other finishing services, provide an ideal way for labs to offer add-on sales opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of the new supplier offerings in this resurgent category.
“As we move through 2005, our research shows that the lamination marketplace is firmly established and widespread, almost 75% of all graphics providers have some form of finishing operations. This supports the fact that mounting and laminating services are profitable, value-added services,” said Angie Mohni, Business Development Manager at Seal Graphics America. “The rapid adoption of digital printing and finishing services has blurred historical market boundaries. Today, customers can obtain large-format graphics services from photo labs, repro houses, digital printers, sign shops, screen printers, fine-art printers and quick printers. This trend has increased competition among graphics providers causing them to seek more cost-effective production technologies and materials that allow profitability while being price-competitive,” she adds.
Seal Offers Inkjet Spotlight Media
At PMA 2005, Seal Graphics America (www.sealgraphics.com) introduced new Seal Inkjet Stoplight, a polyester/aluminum printing media designed for the efficient production of pop-up exhibit graphics, banner-stand graphics and other flexible display applications. Constructed from Seal’s durable, 100% opaque Stoplight backing film with a “universal inkjet coating,” the new media offers a bright white, quick-drying printable surface.
Inkjet Stoplight is compatible with piezo and thermal printers using dye or pigment inks. Inkjet Stoplight offers smooth in-printer performance, brilliant true colors, clear image quality, water and scratch resistance, and excellent lay-flat properties. To complete durable show-ready displays, the company suggests laminating Inkjet Stoplight prints with Seal Floor Guard, Jet Guard Deep Crystal, or Print Shield Deep Crystal films.
“Exhibit/display graphics and retail/POP graphics are the most common market application segments,” says Mohni. “Within these areas, double-sided laminating (encapsulating) using heat-activated films, and rigid mounted graphics using both pressure-sensitive and/or heat-activated film products are the most common finishing applications, with banners coming up a strong third. With more and more digital graphics being used outdoors (about 26%) the value-added protection role of laminating remains key,” she concludes.
On the laminator front, Seal introduced a number of new products in 2004, among them the Seal EP 42, a multi-application machine capable of hot or cold mounting and laminating up to 42 inches wide. It can handle sheet-fed encapsulating at speeds up to nine feet per minute. It can handle pressure-sensitive operations with substrates up to 0.5 inches thick at speeds up to 13 feet per minute.
Coda Shows New Laminator at PMA
“With the advent of adhesive-backed vinyl proliferating in both the sign and display markets we have seen an increase in growth with out Cold Mount laminators and Pressure sensitive overlaminates,” reports Sol M. Gnatowsky, VP of sales and marketing at Coda, Inc. “To be sure, the market is now looking for a cost-effective and easy-to-operate mounter/laminator. The simple tabletop Cold Mount Press that we designed for our Photo Studio customers over 20 years ago works well in this market. At PMA 2005 we introduced a full production laminator called the Cold Mount System with a fully integrated roll feed and take up.”
Coda’s (www.codamount.com) Cold-Mount System combines a Cold-Mount tabletop laminator with Coda’s newly designed roll-feed with automatic scrap rewind and floor stand. The complete unit is now a production machine that comes on a sturdy floor stand with locking casters and storage space for roll materials. Available in widths from 14 to 54 inches, the Cold Mount System can be run by just one operator. Key features on the Cold Mount System are: automatic scrap rewind, operator adjustable tension control, self-locking 3” core supply and take-up mandrels, and precise roller and pressure adjustments. These features are comparable to production machines requiring a higher investments and time learning to operate.
Gnatowsky says another market trend is the increase in the interest in pre-coated mount boards “Coda uses only the highest quality substrates then out gases and treats the boards before we apply our proprietary mounting adhesive on the boards. We have worked with many photofinishers over the years to get the quality that they demand every time. The reason that we are seeing an increase is that our new customers that have inkjet printers want a simple and cost-effective way to mount their prints. Because we offer a number of substrates where we did all of the work to assure a perfect cut with permanent smooth adhesive this new market really has responded to a cutdown in their production time while assuring their customers of high quality.”
MACtac Expands Permacolor Family
Last year, imagers purchased nearly 604 million square feet of media for wide-format applications, and because of that, MACtac Graphic Products (www.mactac.com) expanded its Permacolor family of overlaminates and mounting films with the introduction of the LF Series of digital overlaminates. The first product in the series, LF3699, is a cast vinyl overlaminate designed for high-performance protection of digitally-printed images.
A glossy, 2-mil cast vinyl film, the LF3699 features a permanent clear acrylic adhesive ideal for use in a wide variety of applications. Available in a roll size of 54 inches x 164 feet, the film protects printed images against abrasion, moisture and color fading caused by exposure to ultraviolet light for up to seven years outdoors. “Our LF3699 product is ideal for highly conformable applications such as vehicle wraps,” says Kristi Young, product specialist, MACtac Graphic Products. “We believe that this is the best all-purpose overlaminate for a wide variety of high-performance graphic applications.”
“In 2004, we saw an increase in the growth of our thermal overlaminating films,” says Young. “This year, it seems that both thermal and pressure-sensitive films are ahead cumulatively. Because there are many different grades of laminating films and such a wide variety of application needs, I would encourage labs to performance-match the film to the application or job. For example, if you are working with a cast digital film, match it with a cast or high-performance overlaminate. This helps maximize the profitability of the job while still delivering a product that will meet specifications,” she adds.
Daige Offers New Cold Laminator
Daige, Inc. (www.daige.com) has been manufacturing adhesive systems for over 35 years. Capitalizing on their expertise in adhesives and applicators, they eventually expanded their product line to include cold adhesive systems, plus mounting presses, liquid-laminating systems and related supplies. New from Daige is the Quikmount III Cold Laminator, a cold laminator designed for applying cold laminates or mounting prints to boards. The Quikmount III offers a slew of the features found in more expensive laminator models, including silicone-covered rollers, automated take-up reel and a heavy duty motor. The steel-and-aluminum-built laminator is available in 25-, 38- and 55-inch widths. In addition, Daige carries a full line of cold laminates in three finishes: gloss, luster or matte.
New Adhesives from QMLS
Quality Media & Laminating Solutions (www.qmls.com) offers a host of new pressure-sensitive adhesives, including Viewbond & Viewbond R. Viewbond is a clear polyester film carrier double-coated with an optically clear permanent acrylic adhesive and a polyester liner on each side. The adhesive has added UV inhibitors to protect images from fading and an easy-peel release liner. When an optically clear adhesive is required - such as first surface or second surface mounting of transparencies to acrylic and other clear or translucent substrates, Viewbond is an ideal choice. Viewbond R is an optically clear removable adhesive for short-term mounting applications. When mounting to glass inside or outside - Viewbond R ensures clear, distortion-free presentation according to the company. QMLS is also a distributor for Advanced Greig’s line of laminating equipment.