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Business Opportunities

Lamination Equipment

Ensuring a piece of print is well protected is just as important as how the final product looks. With this in mind, Rob Fletcher takes a look at some of the latest options on offer in the lamination market

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An example of foiling work produced using technology from Komfi, supplied in the UK by Friedheim International

Golden opportunities

Print is re-emerging as a key media in the marketing mix, with many major brands taking to print to help spread their message to the masses. Whether this is via leaflets, direct mail, posters or billboards, print is back in fashion and it is more important than ever to ensure printed products look the business.

Taking marketing as an example, print in this sector is often subjected to plenty of wear and tear, with leaflets being passed around from and both posters and billboards almost constantly exposed to the elements. Lamination can help print-service-providers (PSPs) protect their print and give the final product that extra bit of shine.

Here, we speak with some of the leading names in lamination technology to find out more about the latest solutions on offer and how this kit can help PSPs with not only marketing work, but with a host of other applications.

Keeping up

Vivid Laminating Technologies is one of the market leaders in this sector, with a number of lamination solutions on offer. Product manager Lewis Evans says that as is the case with many technologies in the print market, lamination systems are constantly evolving with new and improved features regularly being added, and it is important to ensure your kit is up to date so you can offer the best possible service to customers.

Evans gives the example of when Vivid introduced the Pneumatic range of Matrix lamination systems, doubling the operation speed and halving production time as a result. Users also benefit from digital foiling and spot UV type effects, which in turn opened up a whole new revenue stream.

The new Matrix Metallic from Vivid Laminating Technologies has been fully optimised for foiling, but also with the ability to laminate

“These new features may mean that additional services can be offered to customers allowing printers to develop a new or different customer base and new revenues streams,” Evans explains.

“New features can improve production processes, saving time and money. More automated operation and improved ease-of-use on newer systems can reduce the training requirement or free up operator time.

“By not upgrading, printers may find that they are left behind, unable to offer all of the possible services or print embellishments in-house compared to others using the latest equipment. They may also be working less efficiently with an impact on their competitiveness in their local markets.”

In terms of new solutions from Vivid, Evans points to the Matrix Metallic, where he says Vivid “flipped the emphasis around”. While the previous Matrix systems were laminators that were also capable of digital foiling, the new Metallic is fully optimised for foiling and can laminate.

“The Metallic delivers the ultimate in digital foil quality and supports many uncoated papers stocks, such as the Color Plan range from GF Smith and Pot’Set and Curious Collection Metallics from Arjowiggins/Antalis, as well as the usual coated stocks. It is fully compatible with the retrofittable OMNIFLOW autofeeder making it fast and efficient to operate,” Evans adds.

Cost effective production

Elsewhere, Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) stocks lamination kit from Foliant, including the new Mercury NG and Taurus NG models. Bryan Godwyn, managing director of IFS, focuses on the value of bringing lamination work in-house, saying retaining these services helps increase the value of print jobs.

Bryan Godwyn, managing director of Intelligent Finishing Systems, says bringing lamination work in-house is now cost effective for most PSPs

Godwyn expands: “The cost of lamination film is low so the cost of producing a small lamination job in-house is cost effective. As well as these cost implications, providing the service in-house will help meet the short turn-around times that many printers are facing.

The cost of lamination film is low so the cost of producing a small lamination job in-house is cost effective

“The new systems from Foliant boast some really neat features too that deliver extra efficiencies such as no cleaning rollers, smart re-loading and enhanced heating systems.”

Godwyn goes into further detail about the new Foliant technologies, namely the Mercury NG and Taurus NG models 400NG, 530NG and 760NG, which offer B3, B2 and B1 formats. All of these are double-sided systems that Godwyn says are ideal for mid- to higher-volume, double-sided lamination such as menus, leaflets and flyers.

He comments: “They follow on from the popular Foliant Mercury SF and Taurus SF range but with added benefits of increased speed – the Taurus 530NG is now rated up to 40m/min – as well no clean rollers, smart re-loading, foiling and also stacking delivery.”

The Taurus 530NG is one of the new Foliant double-sided lamination systems available from Intelligent Finishing Systems

The Mercury NG and Taurus NG models also feature two laminating units for 100% equal quality on both sides at all speeds, something that Godwyn says is not always possible using a traditional double-sided laminator with a single pair of heated laminating. Also incorporated is a new system for heating up in less than ten minutes allowing for a fast makeready.

Godwyn adds: “The highly productive systems enable operations to improve turnaround times on all double-sided laminating jobs and complete jobs much faster.”

Smarter, faster, stronger

Morgana Systems, part of the Plockmatic Group, also offers a range of lamination solutions and Ray Hillhouse, general manager of UK operations for Plockmatic, says investing in new kit allows PSPs to take advantage of smarter, faster, and easier-to-operate products designed for today’s demanding short-run market.

Ray Hillhouse, general manager of UK operations for Plockmatic Group, the parent company of Morgana Systems, says investing in new kit allows PSPs to take advantage of smarter, faster, easier-to-operate products

With this in mind, Hillhouse picks out Morgana’s Laminator 450 and 450 Pro in particular, billing them as high-performance compact machines combining speed, ease of operation and quality. He says this makes them the ideal solution for the in-house commercial laminating requirements of many print businesses.

Hillhouse says: “The 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. The Pro 450 also features a high pile automatic feeder.”

Measuring just 1,700 x 730mm, the single-phase Laminator Pro 450 has been designed to be both efficient and cost effective, helping PSPs offer an all-in-one service to customers.

O Factoid: The new Laminator Pro 450 from Morgana has the ability to process up to 1,875 landscape SRA3 sheets per hour. O

Hillhouse adds: “Utilising a deep pile automatic suction feed system, the Pro can achieve production speeds of up to 1,875 landscape SRA3 sheets per hour, allowing printers to undertake jobs requiring higher quantities and faster turnaround times with minimal set-up, wastage and supervision.”

John Brailsford Printers recently invested in a Laminator Pro 450 and company owner John Brailsford says the business is already feeling the benefits of the new purchase.

Yorkshire-based John Brailsford Printers recently purchased a new Morgana Laminator Pro 450

Brailsford says: “The foiling provided us with excellent results from day one – much better than other systems that we have tried in the past, as it is better suited to a wider range of stock, and is overall a more predictable process.”

Adding value

Casting the net wider still and Stuart Bamford, national post press manager at Friedheim International, says lamination is fast becoming one the UK print and finishing industry’s key components, and investment is key of PSPs are to keep up with the market.

Bamford expands: “Adding value to print is one of the better ways for printers and finishers to increase their profits, and lamination plays a major role. With most printers outsourcing their lamination, we’ve found many who have done the maths and jumped to in-house lamination. Not only does it ensure quality, but it also gives companies the flexibility to plan their work more efficiently and reduce turnaround times.

“No one ever likes to turn away work, with the new push to stop functions on all the ranges of the Komfi laminators, we can provide a laminator that can cater to every type of printer or finisher in the UK – from small format B3 to commercial B2, all the way to 24/7 fully automatic and in-line B1 jobs.”

With this, Bamford draws attention to how the Komfi, entry-level industrial thermal laminator Amiga 52 is now available with a number of upgrades. These include double-sided lamination, with the help of three IR heated rollers, as well as a new feeding head that is processor controlled for stable sheet feeding, with separation blowers to help feed digitally printed sheets reliably.

Another new option is Komfi’s flying knife, which was only previously equipped on the larger Sagitta range, while customers can also now opt for an inline feeder on the Amiga 52, with the ability to connect this directly to the digital printer. Bamford noted that all of these options will also be made available on the Delta 52 and 76 in the coming months.

Supplied by Friedheim International, the Komfi, entry-level industrial thermal laminator Amiga 52 is now available with a number of upgrades

Also new from Friedheim and Komfi are the Fulmatic 36/52/52 Double/76 UV coating machines. The Fulmatic 36 now has the option of an automatic feeder, while the minimum sheet dimension has been reduced to 20x20 and the device is supplied as standard with the IR heating unit.

The new Fulmatic 52 Double is a double-sided UV coater designed for jobs in the medium up to B2 format. The line consists of two coating machines, connected into a processing line with two sheet conveyers and a turning unit.

Komfi has also released the Spotmatic 36, a B3 Spot UV varnishing machine with a format size 360 x 1,000mm, a new software design and an optional second row of printing heads.

Komfi’s new Spotmatic 36 is a B3 Spot UV varnishing machine with a format size 360 x 1,000mm

Bamford adds: “Not upgrading machines will result in lower production capacity of the entire finishing department. Not being able to take on jobs that would have been possible with a new, more industrial machine leads to customers not coming back because their requirements were not met the first time round by the printer.”

These closing comments sum up the general theme of this article; investment in new kit is crucial if you are to stand out from the crowd. Modern kit will allow you to take on a wider range of work and reap the financial benefits of a result. While the initial investment might set you back in terms of costs, the long-term benefits of having new kit in place far outweigh the initial purchase price.

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