LAMINATING & ENCAPSULATING

What We Do

LAMINATING & ENCAPSULATING

Laminating & encapsulating are two similar print finishing processes to achieve document protection.   However there are differences and distinct purposes.   To the layman, encapsulating is often confused with, and often incorrectly referred to as “laminating”.

This process takes place after printing/photocopying but before document binding.

Laminating

Laminating a printed sheet is achieved by applying a very thin sheet of clear plastic film, either onto one or both sides of the document.   It’s purpose is to protect the document from handling damage, making the finished article much stronger.   It also gives an enhanced professional finish to documents.

Laminating is recommended for documents that shall be handled frequently and need the ability to be wiped clean.   Some examples include restaurant menus, training materials, price lists, membership ID cards, etc.

Laminating is carried out after printing but before guillotining, so the laminated finish is edge to edge, often referred to as “full bleed”.   The rolls of laminating film used have a width slightly greater than the finished document, but slightly less than the substrate (generally paper or card).

For example, we typically digitally print to SRA3 size (450mm on the long side x 320mm on the short side).   Laminating film rolls of 317mm width are used to coat the stock.   Burst laminated sheets are then guillotined from 320mm down to 297mm – the length of an A4 sheet, or width of an A3 sheet, giving the desired edge to edge finishing.

Encapsulating

Encapsulating is a similar process which applies clear plastic film to a finished document.   However, with document encapsulation, a choice of different thicknesses of film are available, to achieve the rigidity required.   The main difference in appearance is an encapsulated document has a sealed plastic edge – generally circa 5mm – all around the document, making it waterproof and increasing its longevity.

Encapsulating is carried out either as a roll fed process (using the same equipment as for laminating) for medium to long runs, or a pouch fed machine for small runs and ad-hoc encapsulation jobs.

Matt, Gloss or Silk Finish?

When considering laminating & encapsulating, there are various films available to depend on the finish you want to achieve.   Each film has its own properties and making the right decision on this aspect of print finishing is key to your project.

Matt lamination gives a soft, natural look and enhances the readability of the print whilst softening the contrast of darker colours, making them less imposing.   The texture is velvety and the surface non reflective.   Matt finish is more susceptible than gloss film to scratching or scuffing if handled regularly.

Gloss lamination gives a highly polished, shiny appearance, enhancing the colour of text and imagery on the printed page.   The surface is reflective, therefore not suitable when the finished project may be placed under direct lighting.   Gloss laminating film provides a stronger, more durable document.   By definition, document encapsulation utilises gloss film, for its inherent properties.

Silk lamination provides a softer exterior and premium finish, however images may appear duller than when using gloss or matt film.   Whilst not shiny, the finish reflects in certain light conditions, similar to matt.

Contact us for advice on your specific project – we can advise on the most appropriate laminating & encapsulating options for you.