Mastering Single-Sided Lamination

3 things to consider, plus some troubleshooting tips

"Why are my prints curled?" and "Why is the laminate peeling away from my print?" — two questions that we get a lot, especially from digital printers. So here are a few things to consider for successful single-sided lamination:

  1. Use the right laminate base film  

    When you're only laminating one side of a sheet, the thickness and stiffness of polyester (PET) laminates causes the sheet to curl upwards. So typically, you're better off using a flexible polypropylene (OPP) film, or nylon if you're doing perfect bound soft-cover books.

  2. Use a stronger adhesive for digital prints   

    Traditional laminate films don't stick well to digital print because of the toner and fuser oils. We recommend using our UltraGrip film because it's designed for digital prints, ensuring the strongest adhesion. 

  3. Choose the right machine for your job  

    To get the best single-sided lamination results, you'll need a machine with a chrome top roller and rubber bottom roller. (Machines with two rubber rollers can produce decent results, but often rubber rollers leave a slight orange peel texture effect in thin gauge laminate film surfaces.) Chrome roller simplex laminators produce more much-needed pressure, and are also often equipped with a decurler bar to help mitigate the curling issue and produce flat sheets.

  4. Adjust your settings

    If the laminate isn't adhering - try:
    1. Increasing pressure 
    2. Increasing temperature so the adhesive melts
    3. Reducing speed, so the adhesive on the film has time to wet-out and fully activate and allowing more dwell time in the nip roller
    4. Ensure relative humidity of paper stock is around 50%

    If the sheets are curling end-to-end, try:

    1. Further engage the decurler bar/roller
    2. Reducing film mandrel supply tension
    3. Reducing nip and pull roller pressure
    4. Reducing temperature

    If the sheets are curling side-to-side, try: 

    1. Reducing supply mandrel tension
    2. Ensuring the sheets are not above 50% relative humidity
    3. Ensure your stock is “short grain"

    If you have any questions on the right film to use, you can click here for more information. Or, if you've figured out that your laminator is the issue, click here to browse our lineup of single-sided laminators. 

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