Types of Single-Side Laminators and Guidelines?
There are several different Thermal Laminator technologies. Each technology is unique in the way they work and therefore require different temperature and speed settings in order to achieve consistent good results when single-side laminating.
Regardless of the type of heat technology a Decurl Bar/Mechanism is mandatory to ensure the laminated material exits the laminator without any initial curl.
Good laminating adhesion results are not only dependent on the type of adhesive being suitable for the type of output, but are also dependent on full activation (melt) of the adhesive. Full activation of the adhesive is dependent on a combination of temperature and speed.
The Following are the basic laminator types as well as guidelines for temperature and speed ranges for our single side laminating films.
Heat-Shoe Laminators: (Industrial models, not school table-top type):
Heat–Shoe laminators are old technology, however they are the most common type in use at trade laminators and high-volume press shops.
They use a fixed heated plate (called a heat shoe) to activate the adhesive as the laminate slides over it and then the film must travel several inches before it reaches the separate pressure rollers where the laminate is pressed onto the graphics.
By nature of design these laminators run at higher temperatures and speeds in order to get the activated film onto the substrate before the adhesive cools.
Heat-shoes provide a relatively short dwell time due to their small size which requires the temperatures to be excessive and potentially stretch and/or melt the film.
Heat-shoes are also prone to scratching the laminates as they slide over them.
Hot Roller (Rubber):
Hot-Roller laminators consist of silicone rubber rollers that are internally heated thereby providing the heat and pressure in the same roller at the same time.
Hot roller technology is the primary wide-format choice as it lends itself to lower temperatures (and speeds) which are generally required for heat-sensitive ink-jet output.
It is not the best choice for narrow format due to its temperature (amount of sustained heat output) and speed limitations. Although these can be used for single-side laminating (providing the unit does have a Decurl Bar) they are much slower than either other type.
Metal Cylinder/Roller (Matrix Single-Side Laminators):
This is relatively new technology engineered specifically for higher speed production without the need for excessively high temperatures.
It provides a combination of the benefits of hot-roller and heat shoe by utilizing a large diameter metal cylinder/roller that is internally heated. The large metal hot roller transfers heat to the laminate at a higher and more efficient rate than any rubber hot roller or traditional heat shoe, and will not scratch or mar the laminating film as it is a roller, not a fixed shoe.
The design of the Matrix laminators also results in approximately 7”/18cm of continuous film contact with the metal cylinder/hot roller providing excellent dwell time and full adhesive activation even at higher speeds.
This technology is rapidly becoming the new standard for Single-Side laminators.
The adhesive is not fully melting. A full melt is achieved through a combination of the proper temperature and speed. Increase the temperature or decrease the speed.
Tip For heat-sensitive output such as inkjet we recommend decreasing the speed first. For offset and other non heat-sensitive output we recommend increasing the temperature.