Choosing Laminating Films

Of all the questions and issues surrounding the lamination of large format digital graphics, film selection is perhaps one of the toughest. Selecting lamination films is sometimes a complex process. Shopping by price is not always the best way to go. Here are some tips to consider.

  • Films of the same thickness and appearance can often behave very differently.
  • Laminating films can be broken into two broad categories: hot (thermal) films, and cold (pressure-sensitive or PSA) films.
  • Hot films can be generally classified as low-melt (about 210 to 260 degrees Fahrenheit) or very low-melt (about 170 to 210 degrees).
  • Be sure to choose the right adhesive for the job. Factors to consider include:
    • Water-based adhesive vs. solvent-based adhesives
    • Bond strength
    • Initial tack and degree of permanence
    • Clarity
    • Release liner material
  • Match base and adhesive performance to the job
  • Cast vs. calendered PSA film considerations:
    • Cast film tends to be more expensive than calendered
    • Calendered performs better when laminated to a flat surface
    • Cast film performs very well on curved surfaces

Film Finish Charts