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Can I Laminate UV Inkjet Direct Printed Aluminum?

Discussion in 'Digital Printing' started by Glavin_ID, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. Glavin_ID

    Glavin_ID Member

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    Anyone have experience with laminating UV inkjet direct printed aluminum signs? We got a contract to make a ton of .080 alum signs for outdoor environments. They need to have some kind of coating/lamination to keep them looking nice for longer than a year or two. I was going to originally print on premium vinyl and laminate then apply to aluminum. I would love to cut out the extra step and print directly on the alum then just laminate that. It will be an almost flood print as the signs are black background with white text. We will be printing on white alum. We stock Oragard 290 of 3M 8519. Is there a lam that works better?
     
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  2. equippaint

    equippaint Very Active Member

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    FWIW I have read (but not had any personal experience) is that laminate films are problematic on edge to edge UV prints. There are some that are better. This is also shooting from the hip but Id think that a liquid laminator would be the ideal setup.
    Are they all the same? Could you print or screen on black aluminum?
     
  3. PrintItBig

    PrintItBig Member

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    As well as using the right laminate you also need to make sure that your ink adhesion is very good. If not and a corner / edge of the laminate starts to lift it can take the ink off the substrate in one great big piece while still stuck to the laminate like a carrier paper.
     
  4. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    If you're sole concern is the lifespan, then you could just use liquid laminate. If you need the abrasion resistance then why not use whatever method of applying the film laminate to the aluminum to apply laminated graphics to instead?

    Also since it's just black and white, it'd take some prep, but depending on how many a ton is, screen printing may be an option. Or if a ton isn't that much, maybe even cut vinyl.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  5. equippaint

    equippaint Very Active Member

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    So this begs the question, are digital UV prints (in the realm of an average sign shop) suitable for any medium to long term outdoor signs or should it only be used for indoor and short term signage?
     
  6. Modern Ink Signs

    Modern Ink Signs Premium Subscriber

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    I’m going to guess that your aluminum is not “digital ready”. Therefore I’d recommend using an adhesion promoter This will allow your ink good adhesion to the aluminum. From there use a CAST lamination as it is more dimensionally stable for outdoor use

    You make also look at digital ACM material



    This is what we do in my shop and has worked out well
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    They're good for short to medium term in laminated. All our real estate signs are UV printed.. they generally last 1-2 years, if the agents don't break them by then.


    We've printed and laminated with 8518 when our solvent was down... The signs have been up for about a year now with no issues. We fully expected, and still expect to have to redo all the signs we did... But so far so good.


    Look into liquid lam if you have to - frog juice / etc. You can either spray it on or use a brush. Weve never done it since we also have a solvent and now a latex, so no need to... But I've heard people have the best results from them.
     
  8. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    Not knowing which printer or ink you are using makes it harder to offer advice.

    A couple of things jump out at me. I don't see much difference in the cost or time of flatbed printing these then sheet laminating them. To get a good, rich black you'll need to run them at a higher setting, then risk the sheet laminate adhering differently to the unprinted and printed areas.

    We're running an old Gerber Ion Solara and the ink film is so tough, I can literally take my fingernail to a print and not see a mark. I think the added cost of rolled laminate and added uncertainty about adhesion and actual added value of laminating makes it a tough choice to justify.

    We use a built, rich black (c: 75 / m: 75 / y: 75 / b: 100) for jobs like that which creates a super deep, more durable black that is fortified with all four ink colors. We have jobs out there like this that are more than 5-6 years old and still look good even in a very high UV location.

    If you feel you must add some extra protection and have the equipment to spray, I'd recommend spraying FrogJuice or ClearShield Production Clear which specifically formulated for UV inks.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    It the signs are white letters on black background, and you want longevity in the elements, the best materials would be black aluminum with high performance white cut vinyl lettering. Cheap and fast.

    If you cannot get the ,080 aluminum already painted black from your supplier, you can also do a reverse cut vinyl with black vinyl on white.
     
  10. ProColorGraphics

    ProColorGraphics Very Active Member

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    Hexis has a laminate designed for uv ink. It has a way stronger adhesive and has worked great for me. I use the VCR750.
     
  11. tooler82

    tooler82 Member

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    I mean I don’t know, but from what I’ve read, yes. I know the Mimaki UCJV has no drying time. That’s their whole advertising for it is no more 24 hour wait time for outgassing. Straight to laminate or apply right when it finishes.
     
  12. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

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    You can use 3M 8048, we use it all the time and it can even conform down to 4pt text. Make sure your ink adhesion is very good.
    You can also look at 3M 8991 if you need superior abrasion and graffiti resistance.
     
  13. Glavin_ID

    Glavin_ID Member

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    Awesome, thanks for all the feedback. All options are on the table as we have all 4 processes available in house: solvent inkjet (Epson GS6000), UV Inkjet (FB700), screen printing, and cut vinyl. I am just trying to weigh all the options due to workload and backlog in each dept. The FB700 just got set up in our shop last week so I am also trying to get a handle on its limits. We will probably end up going with either printing on the GS then laminating and applying to alum or try to find black alum to screen print or do cut vinyl. Thanks again for all the input.
     
  14. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    You can find it all over the place in .040 and occasionally in .063, but black .080 is likely extinct. If you could switch to ACM, you'd be golden. If not, you'll need to paint it.
     
  15. Jun Lanon

    Jun Lanon Member

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    UV inks on direct print to aluminum can be laminated for longer life span. UV printing direct to material would last 3 years or more depending on your area. Coastal areas have salty air and or direct sunlight. These would lessen the life span of the print. Adding laminate would last 5 or more years.
     
  16. clarizeyale

    clarizeyale Member

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    We've definitely laminated alumacore signs printed on our UV printer. So far, no complaints or issues!
     
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