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G R A PH I C S - PR O.C O M A s the wrap industry continues to grow, shop owners and installers educate themselves on the latest advancements in equipment, wrap vinyl, installation tools, and techniques. From the beginner purchasing their rst printer and cutter to the most experienced shops that own multiple printers and have a team of installers, it is easy to invest thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for products and people needed to run a suc- cessful and protable business. One prob- lem: they often overlook a very important tool — their laminator! Wide-format laminators range in price from just a couple thousand dollars to well over $50,000. What is needed for your shop today and in the future will most likely be found somewhere in the range of $5,000 to $20,000. Aside from budget, considerations should be made for workspace, productiv- ity, ease of use, and, of course, features and benets. KEY FEATURES/BENEFITS IN A DUAL- ROLLER LAMINATOR • Cold Only vs. Heat-Assist: Heat-assist (90-140 F) helps reduce or eliminate "silvering," a term used when air pock- ets are trapped between the laminate adhesive and the ink/vinyl layer. Silver- ing is most prevalent when using cal- endared media and laminate, when you print with eco-solvent or solvent inks that require adequate drying, or if you have little time to wait for those inks to properly out-gas. If this describes your situation, then the heat-assist feature should be given strong consideration and is highly recommended. • Drop-In vs. Swing-Out Supply Shafts: Swing-out shafts allow for easy lm changes and assist with loading 50-lb. rolls of material. • Re-Wind Take-Up Shaft: Your projects roll up onto a core and can be directly fed into your cutter with no kinks, dust, or debris collected, a real issue that can happen when laminated graphics hit the oor or are rolled up manually. This feature allows for roll-to-roll op- eration and can free up your operator to perform other tasks. • In-Line Slitters: Reduce trimming by up to 50% since the slitter blades will cut between images and eliminate the need to reach across a worktable to separate your horizontal or vertical graphics. Slit- ters can be positioned to also trim any excess off the edges of your laminated prints. • After-Sale Support: Reaching out to the dealer or manufacturer of your equip- ment is critical! Timely responses from the dealer or manufacturer, online tuto- rial support, and the ability to diagnose and troubleshoot issues are crucial to keeping you operational. They also offer the ability to replace or repair worn-out parts. Make sure your manufacturer is set up properly to help support you in these situations. QUESTIONS TO ASK IN EVALUATING YOUR EQUIPMENT & WORKFLOW • Do you toggle between different nishing lms? Changing lms from cast to calendar, gloss to matte, 54" to 60" widths all create start-up waste and wasted time. Depending on the volume of work, you might be limited to running different applications on one laminator. Consider having multiple machines to run specic nishing needs. The nish- ing area can be a bottleneck for uid workow, and having multiple lamina- tors can reduce the time wasted chang- ing materials. • Do you use your laminator as a tape applicator? The ability to apply ap- plication tape with even and consistent pressure, especially images over 6' or longer, is performed easily using your laminating equipment without having to apply tape via hand or squeegee pressure. • What will your shop look like in 3+ years? Shops with a 54" printer will buy a 55" laminator only to upsize their printer in a couple of years. You could be required to upgrade your laminator to a wider unit to accom- modate the wider images created with your new printer. • Do you print with a UV flatbed printer? Laminators allow you to mount or directly laminate rigid sub- strates. Most laminators will have a minimum 1" gap or throat to accom- modate second or rst surface mount- ing of printed images. Arguments can be made about whether or not a dual-roller laminator is better than a single-roller flatbed laminator, each providing its own benets. But for shops whose primary focus is on wrapping a variety of surfaces, there is little ques- tion that a dual-roll laminator will offer you the most exibility. S TO R Y A N D I M AG E S C O U R T E SY G R A P H IC F I N IS H I N G PA R T N E R S ( G F P ) Business Tip A MOST IMPORTANT TOOL 2 0 2 2 • WRAPS • 31

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