The One-Two Punch
Facing off in the laminating ring are in-line vs. off-line laminators; and while each has their own punches to throw and to receive, it is the converter who decides the champion.
by Joy English, Assistant Editor
JUNE 19, 1936 MARKED the day that heavyweight champion Joe Louis and Max Schmeling squared off in what would be a boxing match to remember. Schmeling entered the ring as the underdog, but claimed the titled when he handed Louis his first ring defeat. It wasn't until two years later that Louis would reclaim his heavyweight title from Schmeling.
Today, squaring off in the laminating ring are in-line vs. off-line machines. Both systems have their own strengths and weaknesses, making this a close match. Yet, it is the converters who will be the judges in deciding the winner for their own package printing needs.
Let the match begin
First to enter the ring is the in-line laminator. As the term describes, in-line lamination occurs in-line with the printing press. "In-line laminating incorporates the laminator with another process (typically flexo or gravure printing) all in one process or 'pass'," explained Rick Runzel, area manager for Comexi America, Inc.
In the opposite corner is off-line lamination. The off-line laminator stands alone, incorporating the basic elements—primary unwind, secondary unwind, coating section, and laminating nip and rewind—in a single machine dedicated to lamination. Bill Moreland, president of Moreland Machinery Co., Inc., authorized agent for Nordmeccanica, NA, said, "Off-line lamination has proven to be the preferred method of choice, as it can be done at the fastest possible speeds. It also allows the most control over production variables, giving the highest possible quality."
The victor of the laminating face off, though, is ultimately decided by individual converters. John Metolik, area sales manager, North American Cerutti Corp., said, "Choosing between in- or off-line lamination is strictly an individual decision. A case can be made for either, depending on the level of risk/reward one is comfortable with." In this match, the strengths and weaknesses of the machines—along with the overall work process—are the keys to a converters' laminating success.