On the Edge: Laminated Piece Production

When lamination is chosen for print materials, the reason is usually to protect those materials from things that can shorten their life. Lamination prevents things like dirt and moisture and handling from causing stains, smudges and creasing. It can be applied with either a matte or gloss finish, and is made of clear plastic which can be placed on one or both sides of a piece. Typically, lamination is applied to both sides.

Among the other options for laminated printing are a wide variety of thicknesses, with the thinner film being applied to items such as information sheets, and thicker films being used to protect items such as first aid documentation.

But there is another way that laminated pieces can be protected, and that is via the type of edge. There are two edges that laminated pieces can be processed with: flush cut and sealed edge.

A Clean Line

The flush cut edge can be easily identified, as it is lamination which has been applied to a piece, and then trimmed even with its edge. This kind of edge offers many advantages to the look of a piece. However, as far as protection is concerned, the edge of the flush cut is not completely sealed. The edges are simply joined together without completely enclosing the edge in film.

The fact that the edge of a flush cut piece is unprotected makes it a poor choice for printed items that will frequently be handled, used in conditions of extreme dampness, or be frequently exposed to contaminants like dirt, which can enter into the seam and cause the lamination to separate.

The best candidates for flush cut lamination are those that use thinner paper, such as business cards, book pages and presentation folders.

A Protected Edge

The sealed edge variety of lamination sees the plastic film being applied to beyond the edges of the printed piece. This allows for the bonding of the laminated sheets to one another all the way around the piece. This complete encapsulation of the document in lamination offers a high degree of protection.

You may ask just how much protection the sealed edge provides. Typically, the sealed edge lamination process produces a lip that overhangs the piece. This overhang lip is usually between 1.8” and 1.2” from the edge of the document. This distance allows for the strong bonding of adhesives so that contaminants cannot enter.

Sealed edge lamination is most commonly seen on items like restaurant menus, ID inkjet labels and the like.

Which to Choose?

The edging you choose for your laminated piece will depend on several factors, not the least of which is the environment the printed item will be in for most of the time. Another consideration are the corners of your laminated pieces, because the thicker the laminate, the more likely it is that any corners will be sharp. Any rounded corners should only be made when the laminate is 5mm or thicker.

Cost may or may not be a factor, depending on your budget. However, when choosing edging for your printed pieces, it’s important to note that one edge is not less costly than another, as there are variables concerning the amount of bulk to be cut and how large a piece of laminate is needed.

Any of the 16 available types of laminate will intensify the colour printed on a piece, as well as enhance its professional look. But care should be taken to ensure that the proper thickness and edge of the laminate is being used for the application of the printed piece, as this will help to preserve its quality for as long as possible.