Thermal lamination film is a decorative film that has been extrusion coated with a thermal adhesive so that a heated lamination nip roll will activate the adhesive layer causing the film to adhere to a printed paper surface. The decorative film can be a biaxially oriented polypropylene film (OPP), a biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate film (PET), or a bixially oriented nylon-6 film (Nylon). The decorative film can also be glossy, matte finish, or have a special modified surface for foil stamping or special adhesives such as those used in making case bound books.

The primary advantage of a thermal lamination film is the strength and protection is gives to the laminated print surface. The alternative is a coating for the print, called a "varnish" which does not have the strength, abrasion resistance and such. Thermal lamination gives flexibility, abrasion resistance, water resistance, solvent resistance, and scratch resistance. KDX thermal lamination films also comply with current FDA regulations regarding direct food contact, and are in compliance with the CPSIA standards for children's books and toys. Some coatings, such as UV cured overprint varnishes do not comply.

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What is thermal lamination film?

What are its applications?

Why are there different types and which applications are best for both?

According to ink manufacturer information, the print job should sit for at least 72 hours to allow the ink to cure. These inks dry by oxidation of the ink vehicle, not by evaporation of a solvent.

What advantages do thermal lamination films offer for print finishing?

The applications are many, ranging from a one sided lamination to a paperback book, called a "perfect bound". These laminated papers can also be used in a "case bound" construction where there is a very stiff paper structure giving strength to the book. Some printed papers are sandwiched between two layers of lamination film such as seen for menus, identification cards and such.

How long should the print job sit before laminating?

Of the three films used, biaxially oriented polypropylene films, called OPP, are the most economical. It offers good gloss, or matte appearance depending upon the type. It does not absorb water.

Polyethylene terephthalate, called PET, offer high strength and stiffness for books, menus, identification cards and such. PET has the highest melting temperature of the three main films.

Nylon-6 is a unique polymer. Oriented nylon can absorb up to 6% moisture by weight and swell of expands. Paper also expands with changes in moisture so that both materials move together. As a result curl of the laminate is minimal. Most laminations of a paper to an impervious plastic material such as OPP or PET exhibit curl depending upon the moisture content of the paper. Paperback books are the largest application for the nylon thermal laminating films because the book will not curl open with humidity changes.

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