Sign & Digital Graphics

December '19

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • December 2019 • 35 Tips and Tricks Not all laminators are the same, says Caruso, "understanding the piece of equipment you have is vital and under- standing why the equipment works the way it does is vital to its performance." All of AGL's laminators are built in the United States and all are pneumatically controlled. You need air to operate the laminator, he says. Other laminators on the market use a hand crank or lever to raise or lower the rollers. "That is a basic and crude method that doesn't give you any type of pre- cision that is sometimes required when laminating," Caruso says. He says that if a shop is creating signs for the real estate market that will be out- side in the sun, they need a laminate for UV protection so the inks don't fade as quickly. When the laminate is applied to a rigid substrate, like fluted plastic sty- rene, which is a very soft material, the laminator needs to apply just enough pressure to get the job done without col- lapsing or crushing the substrate. Pneumatic laminators allow a shop to fine-tune the amount of pressure that is needed on any given project down to a half-inch setting. If the substrate is dense and rigid like a piece of acrylic or PVC or even half-inch aluminum, you want a good firm press into the product so you can increase the amount of pressure forcing down on that, he adds. The biggest challenge when laminat- ing is getting waves or wrinkles in the laminate when running it through the equipment, he says. AGL's laminators have process control feedback so when a shop figures out the best tension to apply to a project so that it runs through the laminator without waves or wrinkles, it can make note of the machine's settings so that it is repeatable in the future. In thermal applications, shops need to take into account the temperature of the machine. If it is not hot enough, the adhesive on the laminate won't activate and it won't stick, Caruso says. "If it is too hot, it is affecting the integrity of the laminate and could cause it to deform and cause waves or wrinkles," he says. Another factor is speed. If you run your laminator too fast, you are not giv- ing the adhesive on the laminate enough time on the heated rollers to activate it. Pressure is also important. If there isn't adequate pressure, there is not going to be a good bond. Tension is another important feature to good lamination. If too much tension is applied to the film it will stretch or elongate the material, which will want to contract and revert More and more, vehicle graphics and outdoor signage absolutely need to laminate. The first reason is to protect the image.

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