Lamination: To Protect and Preserve

Since the early part of 2020, much of the world has been gloved and masked. Why? Gloves and masks were touted as protection.

It’s not just we humans who need a layer or two of protection to extend our shelf life. So do signs, documents, banners, displays, and art. For years, pressure and heat have been the combination used to protect paper and other substrates. When correctly applied, they produce a protective process called lamination.

(As history tells it, lamination was an accidental discovery by someone far outside the signmaking field. A dentist named Morris M. Blum used dental resin to laminate a picture of his wife back in 1938. I’m sure he claimed it was an intentional act to preserve his favorite picture of her, and perhaps it was. Accidental or intentional, let’s hope Mrs. Blum appreciated his ingenuity.)

The Lamination Process

If you have remodeled or built a home, you’ve heard the word laminate pronounced with a short a. Laminate has two definitions:

Verb: To cover with a thin sheet of material, as for preservation.

Noun: A product made by laminating

As a verb, lamination is encasing an object between two or more layers of plastic covering to protect it from water, damage, age, light, and wear and tear. It also creates a surface which can be wiped down, which is beneficial for classroom items such as bulletin boards, games, and assignments handed around between sticky fingers. 

Lamination creates protection – all the layers stick together because the heat and pressure applied to the adhesive material bonds it to the substrate to be preserved. It makes the laminated substrate crease, fold, stain, smudge, and smear resistant, ensuring protection from damage from the elements.

Thank you, Dr. Blum

When Dr. Blum laminated that first photo, little could he realize how far lamination would progress down to the 21st century. Lamination is used in everyday activities. We all carry laminated items in our wallets, like credit cards and driver’s licenses, and many of us wear laminated ID badges at work.  And after that accidental salsa incident, who hasn’t been thankful that restaurant menus are often laminated?

Elementary schools always seemed to have lamination machines “back in the day”. Wow, the burning plastic smell lingers in the memory, even after decades. If you ever worked with a laminator, large or small, you realize how much heat the machines put off. And the possibility of an accidental burn…or two. 

Enter cold roll lamination.

EnduraLAM3 cold laminator
EnduraLAM 3 Cold Laminator handles jobs up to 65″ in width

Cold Roll Lamination

Thankfully, dentistry has improved since Dr. Blum was in practice back in 1938. So has lamination. There is no longer any need to use heat to laminate a substrate. Instead of requiring a lot of heat applied to the laminating plastic sheets to make them pliable enough to adhere to an item, cold lamination is all about the sticky. Forget the heat!

The process is similar to what every parent has done at home. Remember when you bought that lamination paper at your local office supply store in order to protect your kids’ latest art project? Well, the cold lamination process is basically the same. It is the process of applying a sticky coating to something a customer wants you to protect. No heat is involved. Another advantage is that you’re not personally doing the sticking, like you had to with your at-home process. The roll laminator does the work. 

Using a cold laminator is simple if you have the right equipment and learn the process. It is really a matter of using pressure to add a layer of clear laminating film to your precious prints. Rollers pull the item through the laminator, applying more pressure to it that a mere human could on their own. They also remove the release liner from the overlaminate film in the process, which is a pretty neat trick. One roller applies the film and the other gathers up the spent release liner. Viola! Protection enabled. 

Just the Little Things?

Lamination is no longer limited to credit card-sized items or even that 8 ½” x 11” kid’s art project. As a business asset, it is used for large signs and displays, as well. 

SignWarehouse has cold laminator that can handle roll media up to 65” wide – the perfect size for laminating printed vehicle wraps. Car wraps are the most popular and profitable application for large-format cold laminators like the 65-inch EnduraLAM 3. And cold laminators have the advantage of being compatible with solvent-based inks used in outdoor wide format inkjet printers. Eco-solvent inks use heat to cure the prints, so laminating them with a hot laminator can reactivate the ink and damage the print. Cold laminators are the perfect answer for protecting vehicle wraps with eco-solvent printers.

The EndraLam 3 wide format 55 and 65-inch cold laminators combine rugged construction with advanced job controls for high volume production. Additional features include:

EnduraLAM3 cold laminator
EnduraLAM 3 Large-format Cold Laminator
  • Easy to reach controls
  • Silicone coated non-stick media rollers
  • Maximum laminating speed of 19.6 feet/minute
  • Emergency shut-off switch
  • Variable-speed dial
  • Hand crank pressure adjustment
  • Removable working table
  • Hands-free foot pedal
  • Maximum Media Width – up to 63 Inches (160 cm) 
  • Maximum Laminating Speed – 19.6 feet/min 
  • Roller
    • Diameter – 4072 Inches (120mm) 
    • Maximum Height – 1.38 Inches (35mm)
    • Lifting Method – Manual, Hand Crank 
  • Voltage – 220V/110C AC 50Hz 
  • Power – Laminator: 120W | Motor: 90 – 120W 
  • Dimensions (Length, Width, Height) – 72.5 x 24 x 49 in (184 x 61 x 125cm) 
  • Weight – 385 lbs. (175 kg)

Protect and Preserve

Lamination provides an idea way to protect, preserve, and extend the life of signs, banners, and more, and cold roll lamination can be an asset to any sign maker wanting to expand his services without breaking the bank.

Thank you again, Dr. Blum! Don’t you think if Dr. Blum were alive today, he would proudly drive his luxury sedan with a picture of his wife “laminated” on the side using vehicle wrapping? His car could enjoy the same protection as his first laminated picture of his wife, and he would never have to answer the question, “But do you love me, Morris?”