There are a variety of reasons why you might want to protect your prints – from sun damage, any outdoor elements, to conserve or store it etc. There are a lot of methods to protect your prints, but the main two methods are lamination and encapsulation. Those two terms are often used interchangeably but they are not one in the same.
Lamination is when a thin layer of plastic is applied to one side of a print. The plastic is trimmed right to the edge of the document. The purpose of lamination is to enhance the look of the print. There are three types of lamination options you can choose:
- Glossy: this gives a sheen to the print that adds a more clear shine to the overall image. This often does cause glare, but this look is still desired by most. It is optimal for posters.
- Matte: softer than a glossy look, the matte finish adds a glare-free look and a slightly rougher texture.
- Satin: this is almost a combination of the glossy and matte finish. It provides an appearance with a slight sheen but less glare than what the glossy finish provides.
Lamination is a more commonly known of protection, but it is NOT waterproof. Several examples of lamination in prints would be for posters and book covers.
Now lamination is a good form of protection, but it depends on what you are aiming for with your prints. Here are some points to consider when laminating your prints:
- Irreversible: lamination uses adhesives to seal the print and that makes the process irreversible as trying to reverse it will damage the print.
- Short Term: it is suitable more for short term protection than long term.
- NOT waterproof
It is NOT used to conserve an item, only to enhance the appearance.
Encapsulation is when a tough layer of plastic covers both sides of your print. This is sealed at the edge and unlike lamination, is waterproof. There can be varying degrees of thickness in the layer of plastic used on the print – if the print is meant to be folded, then the layer of thickness on the plastic would be thinner.
Here are some points to consider when encapsulating your prints:
- Long Term: because it is sealed completely without the use of adhesives, the print will be protected longer.
- Reversible: since no adhesives are being used in the sealing, the process can be reversed if needed.
Encapsulation is beneficial for fragile documents (photos, certificates etc.) because it provides more protection. An example of encapsulation being used would be for large maps that need to be conserved or folded. However, it is advised to NOT use encapsulation with prints that contain pencil, charcoal or chalk because they might transfer on the plastic and ruin the overall appearance.
Therefore, both lamination and encapsulation can provide some form of protection to your prints – it just depends on what type of protection you want to provide for your prints.
All credit goes to Lamin-8: Best Banner Printing in Toronto