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Fine Art photographer looking for help with Laminators

Discussion in 'Laminators' started by jagsiva, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    I have read up on several posts here regarding various laminators, pros and cons and price points. Great forum and a wealth of information, especially for someone from outside the "business".

    I am looking to take full control of my process from image capture through finishing. I do my printing on an 44" HP and 24" Epson. Media is various RC papers or fine art fiber papers (Hahnemuhle, Moab, Breathing Colour etc.) I also do canvas, but I stretch and frame this.

    I normally mount my prints on 6mm dibond. In some cases, on brushed aluminum with the prints centered. Largest widths are 44-48". Lengths up to 120". I may try some face mounting on acrylic down the road, but this is a very distant possibility.

    I have been looking at various cold mount laminators. My volume is low, but need for accuracy, ease of use, and reliability are high. I thought the Daige Solo 55" was perfect...until I started reading this forum. Budget is not a major issue, as I would like to buy once, but I don't want to go crazy.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on the following choices I am currently looking at:

    1. Drytac Jetmounter 63SHA (not the one with heat assist, and this model is now discontinued). I can get a brand new unit for about 5K. It is larger than I need, and space is a concern.

    2. USTECH AK or VT 500. I had written these off, but several users here regard them highly. The are heavy, but come in at about 2-2.5K, and at least on paper, seem to compare well to the major brands

    3. RC1401C - I can a barely used one for 2.5K. Looks like a good compromise on weight, but the roller is smaller in diameter than the above two, and I'm not sure how it would handle 6mm dibond.

    4. Daige Solo 55 - this is still in the running at about 2.5K.


    Thanks again for your thoughts and advise.
     
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  2. DizzyMarkus

    DizzyMarkus Active Member

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    Just purchased a Daige 38" to replace a 28" GBC I had for a 30" printer. OMG what a difference, I can get the run straight, no wrinkle issues. I cant speak for the other higher end machines but this ones perfect for my size shop :0)

    Markus
     
  3. CropMarks

    CropMarks Member

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    I bought a brand new Daige 55" solo and there is good things about it... and some bad. (this is just my opinion)

    Good - pretty cost effective, works on 110v, pretty simple design with not a ton of things that can go bad or break, parts are decent quality, I like stealing the foot switch to use with other things in the shop (dremel tools, etc..)

    Bad - heat assist would be nice, only one speed, getting a perfect gap on the rollers can be a little annoying (if it's not pretty dang close you get lots of wrinkle fun), --- when it comes to the gap each side is independently controlled by the little dial on each side.... anything with a lever or whatever to control the up and down is way better than this. ---- last thing is the less than 1/2" gap that it is capable of.

    Overall: I'm not mad I bought it... it is better than what I had. at some point I would like to get something a little more "robust"... but it's fine for what I do and I've learned some tricks with it to make it perform a little better. WOULD I BUY IT AGAIN?: If in the same spot with extra money to spend and job types... yes I would.
     
  4. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    Thanks for the info regarding the Daige. So far, I am confident that doing 20-30" mounts on the Daige will be fine. I am more concerned with widths in the 40-48" range when combined with 8-10ft lengths.

    I assume setting the roller pressure is critical for such large pieces, and given the two knob solution, I'm not sure the consistency will be there without a lot of tinkering. Any thoughts from anyone with a Daige Solo 55 running 4x8 sheets?

    Cheers...
     
  5. CropMarks

    CropMarks Member

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    Since I'm using a JV33 with solvent ink, I pretty much have gotten to the point to when I have to do any mounted prints on Aluminum, 3/16 foam/gator/ultraboard, etc... I always use a "cheaper" (calendared-around $200/roll) air release vinyl to print on... then I mount them with or without lamination to whatever I'm putting the print on. --- if I get any minor air bubbles, I can just work them out with my fingers or a felt squeegee.

    In your case, I'm assuming that you use a mounting film of some sort (gbc duramount, etc....). I'm thinking on really long things you could maybe run into some issues using the daige's independent turn knob controls. Also... It's been a little tricky to try and mount onto 1/2 substrates since you have to open the thing up all the way.

    Anything that has a control that moves the top roll all together would be better. I'm not, nor will I ever be an expert... if anyone else has input, I am all ears with an open mind. :)
     
  6. 4R Graphics

    4R Graphics Active Member

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    Jan 28, 2008
    I have owned 2 of the US Tech laminators and they work really well.
    I would recommend one for you all day long. The only thing I would look at is being able to lift and lower the top roller with only one handle/lever. I am not sure if any of the newer US Techs have this option.

    I ran a single run of roughlly 27 feet the other day on a US Tech and I only tracked off 1/8 of an inch.

    Alot of using these laminators is about learnig how to use them and what not its a learned skill to load and run really long runs with minimal tracking issues.
     
  7. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    Yes the US Tech I was looking at has the one lever control for dropping the roller - The VT500 or VT600. The 500 Pro C also looks interesting. All are in the 2-3K range, so about 1/2 price of the major brands. My main issue with all of these is the size, they are all monsters weighing in about 6-700lbs.

    I am now thinking I should just bite the bullet and get a Seal 54 EL. Looks super easy to use. Just need to justify the price in my head.
     
  8. CropMarks

    CropMarks Member

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    I just went and looked up the Seal your talking about.... Seal laminators are good solid machines. I've used the Seal Image 62 and the Seal Image 44. The Image 62 I used had issues trying to get to and stay at a constant temperature. Probably something that could have been fixed but it was owned by the business that I used to work for before we started our own company. The Image 44 we owned and the issue with that was something was messed up with the circuit board and it would not be even when it went up and down. Since it was older there were no parts made for it. They did have really good rollers on them.

    One thing I like about that model that you mentioned was it has a manual crank to raise the rollers.... no electronics to break on that (at least from what I could tell). I would give that a shot if I had the money... how much are they?
     
  9. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    I think the SEAL 54 EL is in the 6K range...
     
  10. MrSalumi

    MrSalumi Member

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    I just bought one for 5400.. It is one of the best purchases I have made in a long time. Very easy to use (even for a beginner), VERY well made.

    If you can afford to put the money up front it will pay for itself, over and over.
     
  11. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    Yup, I think I am down to either the SEAL 54 EL or the Drytac JM63SHA. Both look good. The Drytac is a better deal, as it is a discontinued model, and saves me a few bucks, and would think they are both quite similar in quality.

    One thing that bothers me is that all the so called high-end models touting North American quality are only offering a 1 year warranty, with even less on roller and labor. The US Tech models are offering a 3 Year warranty.

    Thanks again for a the valuable advise from everyone. Cheers...
     
  12. jmcnicoll

    jmcnicoll Member

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    Sounds like you'll be using it for just mounting, correct? I would go with a machine that has straight rollers. Many of the lower end machines have rollers that are slightly crowned in the middle because they are not heavy duty enough to put down even pressure across the entire width. These machines are also better for laminating if you get into that as well. Take a look at the AGL laminators, spendy, but it will last for ever.

    www.aglinc.com
     
  13. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    AGL - perhaps a little over the top for my use :) Just the basic weight of the units are in the 2K lbs range!!
     
  14. jmcnicoll

    jmcnicoll Member

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    The Quality of the AGLs are outstanding! I started in photography and have been laminating and mounting with laminators for 10 years. When on my own I had a Daige for a day, had it out of the box for about 2 hours before I called to return it. Used a GBC titan (about a $12000 machine at the time) and would never buy one of them or one like it. Once you use a laminator with a straight roller you'll never want to use a crowned roller again.
     
  15. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    So would you categorize the Seal and Drytac in the "crowned" roller category? The main reason I am looking at either of these is to avoid any issues with roller pressure....thanks for your help.
     
  16. jmcnicoll

    jmcnicoll Member

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    Check with vendor and/or company making them. I believe most of the laminators in that price range do have crowned rollers, at least they did in the past. It's worth the price to buy a good one!
     
  17. jmcnicoll

    jmcnicoll Member

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    Nov 18, 2007
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  18. jagsiva

    jagsiva New Member

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    Apr 11, 2013
    Hey, thanks for the info, great read. Looking at the AGL line-up, there really is nothing that fits my size/budget requirements. These are all mammoths.

    I think the Seal 54 EL is the likely winner for me and a good balance of quality/ease of use/size/price.

    Thanks again...
     
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