Lamination Basics for Inkjet Printed Graphics

Lamination Basics for Inkjet Printed Graphics
Instruction Bulletin 4.22
Lamination Basics for Inkjet Printed Graphics
Release F, May 2016 (Replaces E, Feb ‘15)
Description
This Bulletin provides basic information on proper preparation of inkjet printed graphics and application
of an overlaminate. This procedure must be used to obtain the 3M warranty specified in the base film's
Product Bulletin.
Quick Links
3M Graphics Warranties
Technical Information Selector
Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
Videos
Some of these links lead to web-based resources
that are not product-specific.
NOTE: A limited number of screen printed graphics may be protected by a 3M overlaminate for specific
applications. Follow the ink drying or curing recommendations in the applicable 3M Ink Product and instruction Bulletins, and then apply
the overlaminate as described in this bulletin.
3M Graphic Protection Products
3M offers a variety of graphic protection options. See the Technical Information Selector at 3Mgraphics.com/TechInfo for a list and details for all
3M overlaminates and clear coats.
Health and Safety
!
CAUTION
When handling any chemical products, read the manufacturers' container labels and the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for important health,
safety and environmental information. To obtain SDS sheets for 3M products go to 3M.com/MSDS, or by mail or in case of an
emergency, call 1-800-364-3577 or 1-651-737-6501.
When using any equipment, always follow the manufacturers' instructions for safe operation.
Graphic Preparation — Any Printing Method
• Bring all graphic materials to print room temperature.
• Before applying an overlaminate, follow the drying recommendations listed below for the type of ink and printing method you are using.
Drying Latex, Solvent and Eco-Solvent Inks — Inkjet Printing
The liners on most base films are silicone coated. Once the film is rolled, the solvent from latex, solvent and eco-solvent inks cannot evaporate
and pass through the liner. Trapping these solvents contributes to inadequate graphic drying.
i
IMPORTANT NOTE
Adequately Dry Inkjet Printed Graphics Inadequate drying can result in graphic failure including curling, increased shrinkage and adhesion
failure, which are not covered under warranty.
Always build enough time into your process to ensure adequate drying of the graphic. Poorly dried film may become soft and stretchy,
and the adhesive may become too aggressive. This can cause difficulty when applying an overlaminate, rolling the graphic, and applying
the film. See the ink's Instruction Bulletin for more details.
1.
Use Ink Limiting to Avoid Unnecessary Ink Saturation
The first critical step in assuring complete drying is to use ink limiting. For 3M films, refer to the ink limiting recommendations in the film's
Product Bulletin. If no value is listed, start with 270%.
2.
Drying Option 1: Spool the Printed Film
Even if your printer has a dryer, it may not adequate dry latex and solvent inks in the short amount of time it spends passing through the
heater. Spooling the printed film open allows air to circulate between the layers of rolled film. To further increase air circulation and reduce
drying time, place the spooled film roll on a plastic egg crate, and place a fan beneath the crate. If you only spool open the film, adequate
drying could still take a week, depending on the environment. Unlike solvent inks, spooling and letting latex printed graphics sit doesn’t help
Instruction Bulletin 4.22 Release F, May 2016
Lamination Basics for Inkjet Printed Graphics
to cure the ink, but does allow the graphic manufacturer to see if any oily spots are generated which may interfere with proper adhesion of
overlaminates. See “Curing UV Inks” on page 2.
3.
Drying Option 2: Sheet the Film and Place on Drying Racks
Cut the film into sheets and place one sheet on each rack. Do not stack printed sheets, which inhibits drying, just as a tightly wound roll of
film inhibits drying. To reduce drying time, place the rack in a drying oven at 150 F, if available.
4.
Test the Dryness of the Ink
A common method for testing whether the inks are dry is to press together, ink to ink, two dark areas of a printed sheet. Hold the sample
near your ear and pull them apart. If there is a crackling sound, the ink is not yet dry.
Curing UV Inks
While complete curing of UV inks is essential, over-curing hardens the surface to the point it is difficult to achieve a good bond between the
graphic protection and base film. Keep these things in mind when curing UV inks:
• UV ink continues to cure at a slow rate after removal from the printer.
• UV ink gets an additional cure dose if you are applying a UV clear coat. Although this Bulletin does not address UV clear coats, this is a detail
worth remembering.
To determine the lowest cure setting for your UV inkjet printer that properly cures the ink, use this procedure.
1.
Set the printer to its lowest cure setting.
2.
Print a multicolored test sample and complete the cure.
3.
Immediately wipe the printed surface with a clean white cloth, lint-free tissue or cotton swab. DO NOT get uncured ink on yourself.
4.
If any ink transfers to the cloth, increase the cure setting by one level and repeat Steps 2 and 3 until no ink wipes off onto the cloth.
5.
Record this setting and always use the lowest setting that does not transfer any ink to the cloth.
6.
For the best results whether your applying an overlaminate or clear coat, apply it between 1 and 72 hours after UV printing.
Drying Latex Inks
Proper drying of latex inks on the printer is essential to achieve good durability results and trouble-free post-processing, allowing samples to be
safely post-processed immediately after printing.
Latex inks should emerge from the printer fully dried. Post-air drying of a wet print will not enable drying, since latex ink drying requires that the
dried ink is heated above the film formation temperature of the latex inside the printer.
Inadequate drying can cause difficulty when applying an overlaminate, rolling the graphic and applying the film.
To ensure proper latex ink drying, use the following recommendations:
1.
Media Presets
HP media presets contain all the needed settings to print on a specific media.
Download and use media presets from the following page: www.hp.com/go/mediasolutionslocator.
2.
Environmental Conditions
HP media presets have been specially designed and tested for each printer-media combination. Recommended environmental conditions:
20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F), Humidity 40-60% RH
3.
Proper Drying Performance Tests
Tests to confirm drying performance are mainly visual. To check if a sample is properly dried, print a multi-colored test image using the
correct media setting then perform the following tests:
- Visual Test: Check the image immediately after printing. The sample should not be wet or sticky to the touch, or have an 'oily' feel when
it emerges from the printer.
- Rubbing Test: After the visual inspection, wipe the printed sample with a wet paper towel. Fully-dried ink should resist wiping. If the ink
is easily removed by wet rubbing, then it is not dried.
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Instruction Bulletin 4.22 Release F, May 2016
Lamination Basics for Inkjet Printed Graphics
- Stacking Test: In some cases, the top surface will appear dry after printing but within a few minutes ink may migrate to the surface
leaving an oily aspect. To ensure proper drying, stack at least 12 sheets liner to printed side and let sit for one hour. After 1 hour, remove
the stack and check for "oily" stains, wet surfaces or glossiness changes on high ink laydown areas on each sheet. If any of these occur,
then the ink is not properly dried.
4. Improve Drying
If a sample is not properly dried on the printer, reprint the image under a condition that allows complete drying. Common printer settings
that improve drying performance are:
- Drying temperature. Increase temperature in 5 degree increments until the sample is properly dried.
- Number of passes. Increase the number of passes to slow down the print process. When the number of passes is increased, the time
that the sample is under the drying module also increases allowing better drying.
- Ink amount. Reducing the ink amount while keeping the remaining settings unchanged helps to dry the ink.
Lamination Procedure
Equipment
The procedures in this Bulletin use a test laminator with the following design specifications.
• 2 air cylinders, 3 inch (8 cm) in diameter
• 70 durometer (hardness) rolls
• Cold roll lamination:
- 4 inch (10 cm) diameter rolls
• Hot roll lamination:
- 8 inch (20 cm) diameter rolls
- at least one heated roller, preferably the lower roller
NOTE: For other laminators, adjust the pressure control settings as needed. For example, at the nominal air gauge pressure of 30 pounds per
inch (psi), a 2 inch (5 cm) diameter air cylinder produces a higher nip pressure than a 1 inch (2.5 cm) diameter cylinder.
Hot Roll Lamination Procedure for UV inkjet printed graphics
For UV inkjet printed graphics, 3M recommends using hot roll lamination to help minimize
silvering, which is a silvery appearance caused by air being trapped between the overlaminate
and UV ink. Refer to Section 5C. on cold roll lamination for other graphic types.
1.
Make sure the rolls of the laminator are clean.
2.
Thread the laminator with the printed graphic material against the heated roller and the
adhesive side of the overlaminate facing the printed graphic material according to your laminator manufacturer's operating instructions.
Figure 1 shows an example of a typical threading diagram.
3.
Adjust the temperature of the roller against the printed graphic to 125°F (52°C).
4.
Set the pressure gauge of the laminator air cylinder to at least 50 pounds per square inch
(3.5 kg/cm2).
NOTE: If your laminator cannot be set this high, set it to its maximum pressure. However, ensure
the high pressure, which is applied to the end of the rollers, does not cause the rollers
to bow apart. This can cause bubbling and feed problems.
Figure 1. Example of Threading Diagram
(Pro-Tech ORCA III laminator shown)
5.
Lower the roller.
6.
Set the SPEED to approximately 2 feet per minute (0.6 m per minute).
7.
Gradually start the laminator. As the overlaminate moves out of the nip, make sure there are no wrinkles in the web.
8.
Set the drag on the overlaminate supply roll to the minimum value that allows the overlaminate to feed into the nip of the rollers flat. Excessive tension will stretch the overlaminate during the application and cause the graphic to try to curl when it is removed from the laminator.
Instruction Bulletin 4.22 Release F, May 2016
3
Lamination Basics for Inkjet Printed Graphics
9.
Slowly turn up the speed while monitoring the output to ensure silvering does not happen as the speed increases.
10. Cut the finished graphic from the web using a safety knife and then trim it.
Cold Roll Lamination Procedure for most graphics
This cold roll lamination procedure can be used for most graphics, including solvent and latex inkjet printed graphics.
1.
Make sure the rolls of the laminator are clean.
2.
Thread the overlaminate according to your laminator manufacturer's operating instructions.
3.
Set the air cylinder pressure gauge to 30 pounds per square inch (2.1 kg/cm2).
NOTE: This is a minimum recommended value and based on results obtained from a test laminator. Your equipment may require a different
setting.
4.
Lower the roller.
5.
Set the SPEED to approximately 2 feet per minute (61 cm per minute.)
6.
Gradually start the laminator. As the overlaminate moves out of the nip, make sure there are no wrinkles in the web.
NOTE: If wrinkles occur, the pressure control setting may be too high; reduce the setting to achieve the desired result.
7.
Increase the web speed to approximately 10 to 15 feet per minute (3 to 4.5 m per minute).
8.
Cut the finished graphic from the web using a safety knife and then trim it.
Storage and Shipping
Please see 3M Instruction Bulletin 6.5 for important details.
Disclaimer
The information contained and techniques described herein are believed to be reliable, but 3M makes no warranties, express or implied, including
but not limited to any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
The 3M Graphics Warranty Brochure at 3Mgraphics.com/warranties, along with the applicable film Product Bulletins, provide the details to any
warranty offered for the 3M graphics products described in this bulletin.
Limitation of Liability
Except to the extent prohibited by law, 3M SHALL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BE LIABLE TO PURCHASER OR USER FOR ANY DIRECT
(EXCEPT FOR THE LIMITED REMEDY PROVIDED HEREIN), INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT
NOT LIMITED TO, LABOR, NON-3M MATERIAL CHARGES, LOSS OF PROFITS, REVENUE, BUSINESS, OPPORTUNITY, OR GOODWILL) RESULTING
FROM OR IN ANY WAY RELATED TO 3M'S GRAPHICS PRODUCTS, SERVICES, OR THIS BULLETIN. This limitation of liability applies regardless of
the legal or equitable theory under which such losses or damages are sought.
Warranty and Limited Remedy
The information contained and techniques described herein are believed to be reliable, but 3M makes no warranties, express or implied, including
but not limited to any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. 3M shall not be liable for any loss or damages,
whether direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential, in any way related to the techniques or information described herein.
Bulletin Change Summary
For the most current 3M Technical Information available to successfully use this product, please view this Bulletin electronically and click on the
blue underlined links to view the relevant documents. Please read the entire Bulletin thoroughly.
Release F MAY-2016:
• Updated to new format.This Bulletin has changed dramatically. Please read the entire Bulletin thoroughly.
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Instruction Bulletin 4.22 Release F, May 2016
Lamination Basics for Inkjet Printed Graphics
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