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Lamination, Encapsulation or U.V. Varnish?

Lamination, encapsulation or varnish?

Have you ever seen a super-glossy brochure and wondered whether it’s gloss laminated … or perhaps gloss U.V. varnished? Even printing experts have trouble spotting the difference! To all intents and purposes, they look the same, but their production methods, costs and properties are very different.

Lamination

Lamination is a process whereby a thin, transparent, plastic film is bonded, under pressure, to the surface of your printed paper or card. The plastic film can have a variety of finishes including high gloss, soft-touch and matt.

  • Gloss lamination adds an incredible shine to documents and tends to enrich printed colours, also giving photos a greater depth due to the extra contrast they lend them.
  • Matt lamination gives printed documents a lower contrast and, as such, tends to give them a contemporary, lighter appearance along with a high quality look and feel.
  • Soft-touch lamination is similar in appearance to matt lamination but has a softer, more tactile feel to the touch. Some describe it as velvety, others suggest that it’s perhaps even a little rubbery in feel … but in a good way!

Either way, once laminated, the printed sheets are cut and finished so that the edge of the printed sheet is an exact match to the edge of the bonded lamination, with no difference or overhang of either. Lamination can be applied to one side of the sheet, or both.

Lamination gives the printed job additional protection against wear and tear. In fact, one way to be sure that a printed document is laminated is to try to tear it. If it’s nigh on impossible to tear, chances are it’s laminated. Lamination also gives documents protection against moisture, simply due to the presence of the plastic film that’s bonded to the surface.

Lamination is suitable for even reasonably high quantities of printing because it’s a high speed, mostly automated process. It’s used for protection, to give printed documents a lovely finish and to give them a feeling of high quality.

Encapsulation

Encapsulation is similar to lamination but the plastic film tends to be significantly thicker and is applied to both sides of the printed sheet. Uniquely with encapsulation, the plastic covering protrudes a few millimetres beyond the edge of the underlying printed sheet and indeed the plastic on the front and the plastic on the back bond to each other where they meet. This forms a tough ‘frame’ of thicker plastic around the edge of the printed sheet.

As with lamination, encapsulation protects the printed sheet from wear and tear and from moisture, however even more so than lamination due to the greater thickness of the plastic and the edges of the sheet also being protected by a double thickness of heat-bonded plastic.

Encapsulation is usually used for one-off or low quantity printing because it’s relatively expensive and time-consuming compared to lamination. It’s ideally suited to printed items that perhaps need to be displayed, manhandled regularly or used in environments that might otherwise lead to the printed item becoming dog-eared or spoiled by water ingress. Menus would be a good example.

U.V. Varnish

U.V. varnish is almost always encountered in a high gloss finish. However, it is also available in matt finish although that’s rarely seen. To even a trained eye, an overall gloss U.V. varnish looks almost identical to gloss lamination, giving the printed document a high gloss sheen that enriches the saturation of printed colours and gives photographs a deeper contrast and ‘punch’. However, the U.V. varnishing process is remarkably different to that of lamination. Unlike with lamination, the gloss sheen is actually Read more

Printed Business Cards, Flyers & Brochures for Gembuild

Printed brochures for Gembuild

A garden buildings company, based in West Sussex, has recently been keeping us busy here at Southside Print in London Bridge. Gembuild, who design and install custom garden buildings throughout the UK, were recently referred to Southside Print for printing and production of their sales and marketing material. These included business cards, various flyers and a new brochure.

Full colour, matt laminated business cardsThe Printing

The business cards, shown on the right, were litho printed in full colour and then matt laminated both sides.

The two different flyers (not shown) were digitally printed on 170gsm white A4 ‘Essential Silk’ stock before being folded in half to A5 size.

A new 32 page A5 landscape brochure is also hot off the press. This was digitally printed in full colour throughout, matt laminated to the cover and saddle-stitched to the spine.

Full colour digitally printed brochures with matt laminated coversThere are a couple of notable aspects to this particular batch of printing — firstly, all lamination was produced in-house using our brand new ‘Matrix’ thermal laminator. This new piece of kit is the No.1 commercial laminator in Europe and allows us to laminate in matt, ‘soft touch’ or gloss finish, totally in-house. What this means for customers is that our lamination will be much faster and better value for them compared to the old days when, like nearly all printers, we sub-contracted all lamination to specialist trade finishing suppliers.

The second notable aspect to much of the printing above is that it uses a digital printing process, which lends itself to ‘print on demand’ as it’s known. Because our digital printing process requires no printing plates, set-up is quick, easy and inexpensive. This means that printing can be ordered when actually needed (true ‘print on demand’) rather than having to order and store large quantities like you might have to for litho printed items — just to keep the unit cost down. So, low quantities are possible, at the press of a button, as and when needed.

About Gembuild

Gembuild are based in West Sussex between Horsham and Crawley. They design, build and install bespoke garden buildings throughout the UK. These include garden offices, garden studios and garden rooms as well as park homes and timber-framed buildings that are suitable for all-year-round accommodation. Their buildings are available in Read more