Lamination of your graphics is not always necessary. Digitally printed solvent graphics and screen printed graphics are water proof and light fast even without lamination. However, lamination will add to the light fastness of the inks for long term graphics and protects against abrasion and chemical damage. There are a wide variety of types and finishes of laminates available.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a laminate:
How long do you want the graphic to last?
What sort of environmental conditions will your graphic encounter?
What sort of lighting will illuminate your graphic?
Typically long term outdoor graphics, such as bus signs or banners, are laminated with a 2 mil clear, cast, gloss laminate. These laminates protect against abrasion, oxidation, UV exposure and provide chemical resistance.
Indoor graphics are more typically laminated with a 3 or 4 mil clear, calendared, “luster” laminate. These laminates are typically guaranteed for 2 –3 years indoors, which is usually well beyond when most customers intend to still be using the graphics. These laminates provide some limited UV protection and abrasion resistance, as well as limited chemical resistance. The “luster” finish is most often selected for indoor graphics as it cuts the glare from indoor lighting which can obscure the image. Synonyms for “luster” include the terms, “satin” and “semi-Matte”. All these terms denote a finish that is somewhere between a gloss and a matte finishPolycarbonate laminates .
Polycarbonate laminates come in 5, 10 and 15 mil gauges. They have a textured surface which serves to scatter light and prevent glare. Polycarbonate laminates are particularly durable and are a good choice for trade show graphics or any graphics that are going to be handled repeatedly and used over a long period of time.
Polyester laminates come in matte and gloss finishes and 1 and 2 mil thicknesses. Polyester is a chemically inert material and so polyester is an excellent choice for graphics that are going to be used in an environment where they are likely to encounter chemical contaminates. Polyester is most typically used with industrial screen printed graphics.
Picking the right laminate for your graphics is an important decision. If you are unsure we can recommend the right laminate. Lamination is a modest investment that safeguards your valuable graphics purchases and keeps them looking sharp and new.