1st - Eco-solvent inks are rated for 3-5 years outdoor exposure without lamination and 5-7 years with lamination. All of it is dependent on location and exposure to the elements. I would never recommend anyone putting a non laminated decal on a vehicle as it is exposed to a lot of dirt, grime etc. It just will not last without lamination.
2nd - The best way to laminate something is with roll lamination. With any decal that will be applied to a contour or curved object, the best lamination will be from a roll laminate. Spray or liquid works well for some projects like short run decals and magnets, but the best way is to use a roll laminator. You can find many videos out on the net showing anywhere from the "Big Squeegee" to many different brands of roll laminators. I use a Royal Sovereign laminator in my shop.
The Roland inks are outdoor durable for "up to 3 years". That's leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Bottom line is that NO where in any documents does the Mfr. say the ink is scratch proof or abrasion proof. Only says abrasion resistant or scratch resistant. Since you have no way to control a decal on a sticker and the environment it will be driven in, the only true solution is to laminate the graphics. Some protection is better than none; however, there is no true substitute for a physical laminate versus a spray laminate. If you are only doing small 5" decals you could get by with spray laminates. But if you are producing mass quantities, you are better off investing in a laminator. For the money Daige makes a good one, but for a little more Royal Sovereign makes a great one.
Hope this helps
I agree that I can't control where the decals will end up, like mud bogging :) so we have decide that your normal grab and go decals we won't laminate but any custom decals with a decent quantity we'll laminate. Right now we are in the process of rearranging the shop to accomodate the Versacamm, so a large laminator like the Royal Sovereign is out of the question. We have looked at the Diage and are going to see what the demand for larger decals and outdoor signs turn out to be. The info is exactly what I was looking for and is greatly appreciated.
Just a follow up to let folks know that Royal Sovereign has a 32 inch cold only desktop laminator.
Its not big at all and is painfully easy to use. Here's the specs:
Features & Benefits
Fast – Laminates pressure sensitive films up to 32" (820mm) wide at speeds up to 11.5' per minute (3.5m/min).
Quality – Digital controls with 9 speed settings, combined with silicone rubber rollers help deliver the perfect finish.
Versatility – Designed for mounting up to 9/32" (7mm), laminating individual or multiple copies of poster prints, POP signs, training aids, rigid or flexible signage, inkjet, photo, floor graphics, premask and much more.
Easy To Use – Simple set-up with one button operation, 3” auto grip core hubs, and a foot pedal designed for hands-free operation.
I wrapped my van with some very basic vinyl....done this twice so far, and haven't laminated them either time. Right now I am coming up on one year of rolling around with my van done up with unlaminated vinyl....full color everything...and, there are a couple of scratches here and there; nothing too distracting though. For basic stickers that get handed out and thrown on a bumper or window, there isn't a need to laminate. What I have noticed though, is that a laminated vinyl is much easier to work with when doing a wrap. If I believe that my client is going to beat the crap out of the vinyl, then I will lam it out. I also am clear with clients and let them know that laminate increases the cost and offers a bit of protection; and then I show them my van without the lam, and tell them that I take this throw the car wash and everything....then they can decide for themselves. hope that helps.
We are all in business to make money. You love what you do and you have a passion for it. With the Roland your cost for ink and media is about $.43 c.p.s.f. ($.25 for inks, $.18 for Oracal calandered vinyl). You should be charging at least $5.00 a sq. foot for these graphics. That's a HUGE PROFIT!
Well the same is true for overlaminates. Your cost for calandered overlaminates can be as low as $.25 c.p.s.f. You should be selling the overlaminate for at least $4.00 a sq. ft. Again that's a HUGE PROFIT!
You all want to make more money, right? Sell the service and convince the customer it is better for the graphics. Protection is always better than no protection. If you try to sell the job and the customer just doesnt have the money to pay for it, thats one thing. But if you present a convincing arguement for why they should be laminated, I would estimate that you would end up laminating 7 out of 10 projects. That translates into INCREASED PROFITS FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
Customers always want it cheaper, that does not mean its better. It just means it is cheaper. And they are always the first ones to complain when the graphics wears off. I suggest you always try to sell laminate. You will make more money and your graphics will last longer, which means happier customers. And if they refuse to accept your reccommendation, have them sign a waiver, that "releases" you from any liability due to premature product failure. This way, they cant call you in 6 months telling you, the graphics fell off and you need to do the job over again. Save yourself the headache, either protect the graphics or protect your business!!
I do agree with this.....the other thing that I consider is how to best utilize my time. For me, I hate laminating things cuz it takes me away from designing and printing....there is nothing interesting to me about sitting around and laminating stuff...boring...but, I do like the idea of more money in the shop...I just choose to make money doing and selling the things I have a passion for....
the other issue is that I have experienced absolutely no problems with my vinyl falling off or fading....none, not on my van, not on any windows, not on anything at all...if i was to experience any graphic failure, like peeling or falling off, it would be an adhesive issue that would not have anything to do with the laminate...if i was to experience a fading of the graphic, it would be after the warranty I give my clients...at that point, I make more money by making another decal....
so, I think Kevin is right....if you wanna make more money, laminate....if you want to speed up your work flow and just pound work out, and let your printer run, and let your imagination free with design, then stopping that inertia to laminate is a buzz kill....a buzz kill that makes you more money..... hahhahaa...
Oh definately Kevin... we have already determined that when it comes to custom decals and orders, we will laminate them, but for grab and go, off the rack, we won't... Very good info, we have been in business for 4 years but just started with the Versacamm. We have been using the GX24 for over a year, and wanted to get into full color decals and banners, so we took the plunge. I don't know about the whole vehicle wrap idea, but maybe eventually. Again thanks for all the input and info.