Laminators that are suitable for large-scale applications play a huge part in the graphic arts industry. These machines work by using a combination of heat, pressure, and an internal roller mechanism to apply a thin plastic cover to different materials. This process gives end products a more professional and polished look and makes them more resistant to wear, tear, and moisture.


What Is Lamination?

Lamination is the process of putting two or more layers of material together by cohesion or adhesion to protect them from damage, including normal wear and tear. It usually involves applying a thin layer of plastic that’s held together with the material by some sort of polymer or similar plastic material.


The Purpose of Lamination

Lamination serves two main purposes: aesthetic and protective. Lamination makes projects more visually appealing because they typically finish products with a matte or glossy look. The thin plastic layer applied through lamination also ensures that the material lasts longer and can withstand different damages. This is essential for wide-format projects that are used in more exacting settings, such as for outdoor signs.


How Do Laminators Work?

A laminator is a machine used for lamination. It works by combining heat, pressure, and internal rollers to apply a thin plastic cover to materials. You insert the material into the machine and it sandwiches it with loose plastic sheets or lamination pouches. 

Laminators used for wide-format projects typically offer higher levels of speed and efficiency, plus come with customization options that let you adjust temperature and pressure settings. You can feed materials faster and they may even have special sensors to allow for more precise lamination.


Types of Wide-Format Laminators

There are typically two types of wide-format laminators: dual-heat laminators and cold laminators. Here’s a breakdown of each one:

Dual-Heat Laminators

Dual-heat laminators use heat-activated adhesive, which is heated as a piece of material travels through the laminator. This process may take longer due to heat times, but wide-format dual-heat laminating machines, such as the ones from Gfp, are intuitive and can adjust faster.

Dual-heat laminators can produce a range of finishes for your media, giving you more design options to set your business apart. Depending on your needs, you can achieve a gloss, luster, or matte finish.

Cold Laminators

Cold laminators use pressure to adhere laminates to materials. They don’t use heat and don’t need to warm up, so production times are shorter, making them a great choice for fast-paced environments that require quicker turnaround times. They’re also more user-friendly because you only need to worry about your pressure setting.

Due to the absence of heat, cold laminators are ideal for heat-sensitive print materials and designs. For example, you can use them for eco-solvent inks (though it’s best to ensure these are fully cured and dried before lamination to avoid smudges or blurring).


Choosing Wide-Format Laminators

When choosing a wide-format laminator for your graphic arts or signage company, it’s important to consider how you’ll use the machine and what type of products you want to end up with. Here are the factors to think about when picking your machine:


How will you use the laminator? Usually, the answer is to give materials a boost of protection. The kind of laminator you choose–whether dual-heat or cold–will impact this. 

You also want to consider frequency of use. If you need something more fast-paced to accommodate larger volumes of projects, you’ll want a machine that can handle more exacting work.


What materials are you working with? You can laminate vinyl, backlit films, and semi-rigid graphics, as well as most other flat surfaces. Some substrates are only suitable for cold laminators due to their heat sensitivity. Meanwhile, some materials may need special consideration for their thickness and size. 


Customization options are beneficial for wide-format lamination because they allow you to tailor the machine’s performance to produce the type of end product that you desire. Consider machines such as Gfp laminators that allow for some level of control; those that can let you play around with speed, temperature, and feed-through settings.


Wide-Format GFP Laminators from Airmark

Wide-format Gfp laminators are popular in the graphic arts and signage industry for their efficient performance, professional results, and affordable price points. Airmark carries both dual-heat and cold laminators from Gfp, along with other accessories. Check out our full catalog online or contact us to learn more!