L&NW: What role does an overlamination film play in the construction of a durable label? What are the benefits overlaminate materials provide?
Ron Ducharme (RD): In overlamination, the primary role is protecting the graphics underneath it. Sometimes overlaminates are used for aesthetic purposes – for instance, if you want to add a glossing or matte appearance but even then, it’s used to protect the graphics and provide extra durability.
L&NW: How are overlaminate materials applied? Can you describe the converting process? Are they any challenges related to converting labels with overlamination?
RD: Overlaminates are always applied by machine; never by hand. The process typically includes an unwind stand, lamination roller and base roller. In the converting process, the base roller is stripped to release the liner and then the pressure roller applies constant contact to the surface of the printing graphics, while its moving in line.
In terms of key challenges, there are a few issues related to converting labels with overlamination that can arise. In the process, you’re adding thickness in die cutting so the die needs to be prepared and ready to handle extra thickness. Depending on how sharp the die is, you could get a little bit of adhesive flow out or adhesive halo.
The most common challenge is tension and pressure in the process. Tension can be caused by too much brake or tighter release common in self-wound laminates. The result of either will be upcurl in the transverse direction with the edges of the labels pulling away from the application surface. The second form of too much pressure is when you squeeze the laminate by using too much pressure. This will result with up or down curl in the opposite corners of the labels. The other major challenge that can arise when you’re applying an overlaminate is static. Static can often cause the materials to draw in outside dirt and debris which can be problematic.
L&NW: In what label markets are overlamination films mostly used? What makes certain markets a good fit for using these materials? Are there any overlamination markets or areas of usage growing in particular?
RD: Durables and outdoor graphics are the most common label markets for overlamination films. The reason for that is purely performance-based. Overlaminating polyester can resist temperature extremes, exposure to oils and gases, abrasion and chemical exposure.
L&NW: What are some of FLEXcon's overlamination materials popular among your label customers? What are they made of? Can you please describe these materials in detail and the advantages they provide?
RD: The most popular overlamination materials are clear polyesters and frosty clear embossed vinyls for aesthetic purposes. FLEXcon’s polyesters come in two different formats. The first is the DPM® clear gloss or clear matte polyester, which can be used for two-year outdoor durable application. The second is the DPM® UV clear gloss and UV clear matte polyester overlaminate, which can provide up to five years of outdoor durable protection. These materials yield excellent clarity and label protection, are highly durable and protect graphics from extended UV light exposure.
L&NW: Are there any new products recently launched, or anything in the pipeline?
RD: FLEXcon’s newest film product is DURApro OF 120 CLEAR, which is a fluoropolymer film designed for durable goods overlaminating applications. The advantages of this product is that it provides excellent UV protection for up to seven years and provides longer exterior outdoor durability.