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Focus On


With lamination now seen as a technology that does much more than simply protect print, Rob Fletcher looks at some of the latest kit in this sector and picks out the major benefits for users

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Roaring success

Lamination is arguably one of the most useful techniques in the print production process. While its primary use is to protect the print and ensure its longevity, lamination can also bring additional value to a piece of work.

Competition among manufacturers in this sector is fierce, with a whole host of major names stocking laminating technology and bringing out new updates and upgraded kit on a regular basis. And as is the case with all areas of the printing market, making sure you are up to date with development and able to offer the best possible lamination service is key.

With this in mind, we speak with some of the major manufacturers and suppliers in the lamination market to find out more about the latest advancements with kit.

Take advantage
As well as laminating, Morgana’s Laminator Pro 450 is capable of foiling
and spot-gloss

Up first to set out its stall is Morgana, and Ray Hillhouse, general manager of UK operations for parent company Plockmatic Group, says that customer demand for fast turnaround means print-service-providers (PSPs) should consider bringing lamination in-house.

“Historically many printers have outsourced laminating tasks, adding several days to the delivery schedule,” Hillhouse says, adding: “Relying on an external source for such tasks kills off any speed advantage gained from digitally printing the work, and could easily be the difference between a customer placing work with you or selecting a better equipped print business.

“Investing in the latest laminating equipment allows a printer to take advantage of smarter, faster, easier-to-operate products designed for today’s demanding short-run market.”

Investing in the latest laminating equipment allows a printer to take advantage of smarter, faster, easier-to-operate products

Looking at Morgana’s lamination kit, Hillhouse draws attention to the 450 and 450 Pro, saying their speed, ease of operation and quality make them ideal for the in-house commercial laminating requirements of many print businesses.

Measuring 1,700mm x 730mm the compact, single-phase Laminator Pro 450 is capable of foiling and spot-gloss, as well as straightforward laminating. Utilising a deep pile automatic suction feed system, the machine can achieve production speeds of up to 1,875 landscape SRA3 sheets per hour. Hillhouse says this allows printers to undertake jobs requiring higher quantities and faster turnaround times with minimal set-up, wastage and supervision.

O Factoid: Morgana’s Laminator Pro 450 can achieve production speeds of up to 1,875 landscape SRA3 sheets per hour. O

Control over production

Vivid Laminating Technologies says that its Matrix range of machines is
designed for laminating, digital foiling and applying special effects

Elsewhere, and Richard Marlow, sales director at Vivid Laminating Technologies, says the core benefits of moving lamination in-house are creativity, cost, control and customer service.

Marlow expands: “Outsourcing leaves you at the mercy of your chosen print finisher, the amount of jobs they have on and the finishes they stock. Sometimes, deciding which finish is best for a specific job takes experience as well as trial and error. In-house lamination gives you the creative freedom to experiment with different finishes, easily and efficiently.

“Cost is quite possibly the most important factor for most businesses. The ROI of bringing lamination in-house is huge. It requires investment in kit, but running these jobs yourself is much cheaper than outsourcing, meaning both you and your customers will see the benefit.

“Finally, customer service. Being able to provide accurate on demand lead times, a same day service and take control of the quality of the finished product all add up to improved customer service.”

Outsourcing leaves you at the mercy of your chosen print finisher, the amount of jobs they have on and the finishes they stock

In terms of kit, Marlow says it is vital PSPs do their research and get a high-quality system suitable to complete the jobs that you’re going to be working on. Marlow says systems such as the Matrix range, designed for laminating, digital foiling and applying special effects, give a business the flexibility, quality and consistency they need to create jobs to suit varying demand.

The latest addition to the Matrix range is the versatile Matrix Metallic system, which, although specifically developed to apply digital foil textured stocks, it is suitable for lamination and the application of spot UV type special effects.

Marlow says: “The core benefit and USP of this system is the fact that it is so versatile, there are other machines that can foil or laminate, whereas the Matrix Metallic is capable of doing both onto coated and uncoated stocks, without any compromise on the quality of your finish.”

Reducing pressure

Available from IFS, the Foliant Mercury 530NG heavy-duty industrial
laminating system includes a Heidelberg suction feeder and a high speed
bump separator as standard

Moving on and Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) offers a range of lamination kit, with managing director Eric Keane also talking up the benefits of taking this process in-house.

Keane comments: “Offering lamination in-house reduces the pressure on time, eliminates minimum charges for short runs and ensures work is turned around on the same day.

“All of this is ideal for busy operations under pressure to deliver high quality short turnaround work – often with a number of post press processes – in smaller and smaller time windows. It also enables responsive delivery, especially for those handling an increased amount of short run digitally printed jobs.

“With easy to install, affordable systems the worry is taken out of making the investment. Staff can be quickly trained to produce outstanding results, immediately, while the elimination of outsourcing saves time and money per job.”

Offering lamination in-house reduces the pressure on time, eliminates minimum charges for short runs and ensures work is turned around on the same day

With this, Keane points to the Foliant systems available from IFS, including the Foliant Vega 400A, an 18mpm industrial laminating machine that is designed for heavy duty digital outputs and high volumes of offset printed sheet.

The Foliant Mercury 530NG is a 27mpm heavy-duty industrial laminating system that includes a Heidelberg suction feeder and a high speed bump separator as standard, while the Foliant Taurus 530 NG 4X4 is a 35mpm double-sided laminating system suited to higher volume double-sided lamination.

Also available from IFS is the Foliant Multi-functional Inprinting Unit that will enable users to transform output from the Vega, Mercury and Taurus B3 and B2 laminators.

Tailored to your needs

The Komfi Amiga 52 is available in the UK from partner company
Friedheim International

Another supplier of finishing kit is Friedheim International, which works with a wide range of manufacturers, including lamination specialist Komfi. Among the Komfi products on offer is the Komfi Amiga 52, a modular system that allows users to order a machine configuration specifically tailored to their needs.

André Hilkens, manager of Komfi Europe, comments: “This modular design provides the possibility to choose from three different types of feeders: deep pile automatic feeder, bottom suction feeder and an in-line feeder. It also offers different types of separation units such as hot-knife, which is designed to run with film which is difficult to separate like nylon or PET film.

“The Amiga 52 in-line is a very unique solution in the current market, designed to be placed directly behind a sheet based printing unit.”

Other key features on the Amiga 52 include that when a printer outputs its first sheets, they will be transported via the Komfi bridge module into the laminator feeder. As soon as the laminator senses the first printed sheets, it starts to laminate automatically, meaning the operator does not need to interfere.

Meanwhile, an autopilot system option shows the operator the status of paper volume and remaining availability of laminating film on the unwind shaft, while the device can be operated by a full-colour touch panel with graphical icons.

In addition, the Amiga 52 comes equipped with unique software features such as to minimise waste, automatic activation of pressure roller, internet connectivity for remote diagnostics and a function to ‘stop at sheet overlap’ to prevent losing sheets when personalised jobs are processed for instance.

Hilkens adds: “The inline solution is particularly interesting for customers who are looking into further automating production. In today’s competitive market, decreasing production costs is an ongoing process in which the Amiga 52 in-line could help achieve set goals.”

Return on investment

Terry Cooper Services director Dean Stayne says PSPs should weigh up
return on investment (ROI) before purchasing a laminator

Elsewhere and Terry Cooper Services’ director Dean Stayne says it is important for PSPs to weigh up return on investment before they commit to purchasing a laminator.

Stayne expands: “The key consideration when weighing up the benefits of bringing lamination in-house is the return on investment of offering it as an in-house service as opposed to outsourcing. By bringing the process in-house, then operations can manage turnaround times and costs enabling responsive delivery and competitive pricing.

“There is no need to plan in external finishing or track jobs. They can take on shorter run lengths as these are now more cost effective. They can even offer the lamination process at no extra charge to purely add value to which is already a quality print job.”

By bringing the process in-house, then operations can manage turnaround times and costs enabling responsive delivery and competitive pricing.

In terms of how Terry Cooper Services can help PSPs, Stayne picks out some of its latest kit, including the next-generation iLam Pro Auto SRA3 laminator. This machine features an automatic feeder with touchscreen set up, much like sister solutions the Bagel Digifav B2 and Bagel Minilam B3.

Also available is the Bagel Minilam B3, a 2,500 sheets per hour device that uses oil heated rollers to help ensure the best distribution of heat and temperature retention across the whole surface. In addition, the high-speed Bagel Digifav B2 features lower power consumption, simple film loading system, auto-balance temperature and works on lower temperature levels.

Significant improvements

Another supplier in this market is Laaco Laminates, which counts industrial and commercial laminating machines, laminate cutters and trimmers among its wide range of solutions. Managing director Simon Dobson says by having the best kit in-house, PSPs can greatly improve the quality of finish and productivity.

Dobson expands: “Most print companies already have lamination in place but the majority of these machines are extremely old, and many look like they’ve been attacked by Zorro.

“Whilst the technology has not evolved radically in the 30 years I’ve been in this industry, leading manufacturers such as Seal and Neschen have made significant improvements to accommodate the way images are produced.”

Dobson leads on from this to say that PSPs should consider having more than one laminator in place, saying there are affordable options for print companies of all sizes. Laaco Laminates stocks a range of new machines as well refurbished models that also offer quality results to users.

With this in mind, Dobson says: “Often print companies have just one laminator but four big printers costing hundreds of thousands of pounds each. A good refurbished machine can be picked up for around £3,000, while a professional Neschen machine costs from £10,000 new.”

Dobson also talks up the importance of training operators to use a laminator properly, saying: “Regardless of the quality of the machine, a laminator is only as good as the people operating them so it’s very important that team members receive training in best practice to avoid bad habits being passed on. At Laaco, we include quality training with every machine we supply and install.”

While taking lamination in-house may initially set PSPs back in terms of costs, it seems that the benefits of purchasing in this kit – and continuing to upgrade – is worth the investment. Taking control over this part of production allows means you can be sure the final printed product matches your high standard.

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@printmonthly.co.uk

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