'True Finish' with Coatings and Film Laminates
I just happened to pick up my October issue of Printing Impressions today and the mag opened to the D&K insert for their Diamond Hard Velvet Matte finish insert. This got me thinking about the meaning of the word "finish." D&K's new laminate film gave the insert a beautiful matte finish with no glare. They claim it's foldable, bendable, printable, and a raft of other features. One thing is for sure, the insert certainly looked terrific, with a wonderful appearance and smooth feel.
Lamination and coatings are one of the key elements in print finishing. A majority of printed materials, everything from business cards to brochures, to book covers and signage needs both protection, and the enhancement provided by a coating of film laminate. Digital printing has thrown a curve at both coating and film systems manufacturers due to the surface properties of many toner printed pieces. These make it difficult for many films and coatings to properly adhere to the substrate.
This has kept both film and coatings suppliers on their toes, as they have had to re-formulate their products to work with a very wide variety of toner and inkjet formulations. This has been a critical mission, since lots of digitally-printed pieces lack the durability of offset. Toner (especially) can flake and crack, so a coating or film layer offers an additional layer of protection and enhances the printed piece's durability.
What is still missing is a coating that can offer the kind of protection that a laminate can. Applying a coating has some advantages over lamination. Cost being the first, ease of application the second. Coating systems have been incorporated into many digital printing systems. In fact, "pre-coating" has been a major growth application for some. Pre-coating treats the paper before printing to improve its receptivity to inkjet ink. This is necessary on certain papers that are a challenge for inkjet. The coating can also enhance inkjet color.
In any event, the value of both coatings and film laminates to print cannot be underestimated. They are critical partners in the finishing process and they give the printed piece a look and feel (and appeal) that e-media can't match!