Overlaminating films are used to protect graphics by adding qualities such as abrasion, humidity, UV and solvent resistance. Typically an overlaminating film is used when trying to extend the life of the graphic below. However, an overlaminating film may also be used to alter the appearance of the graphic with such effects as adding a gloss, matte or textured finish to the final product.
When considering the use of an overlaminating film, you will first need to have an understanding of the surface it will ultimately be applied to. For instance, if your graphic is going to require any type of multidirectional stretch, you will need to choose a cast vinyl option. One rule of thumb is to never apply a polymeric or monomeric non-cast overlaminate to a cast vinyl since the non-cast material will tend to cause shrinkage and/or edge curl. Cast vinyl overlaminates such as 3M™ Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8418G or 3M™ Scotchcal™ Luster Overlaminate 8519 can be considered.
Polyester overlaminating films are widely used for industrial, durable applications such as nameplates and warning/instructions labels. Popular facestock gauges of 3M™ Polyester Overlaminate Label Material options range between 1 mil to 5 mils. UL options are also available and include 3M™ Indoor UL Recognized Clear Polyester Overlaminate FM011 (1 mil) and 3M™ Overlaminate Label Material OFM010N (1mil). 3M™ Polyester Overlaminate Material 7248 even provides protection against defacement such as spray paint, crayon, markers and pen. If a graphic will be exposed the elements, products such as 3M™ Polyester Overlaminate Label Material 7733FL and 3M™ Overlaminate Label Material 7735FL can provide three and ten year outdoor durability respectively.
When creating decorative labels, an overlaminate can be used to alter the look of the final product. Textured polycarbonate based products such as 3M™ Velvet Textured Overlaminate Label Material 7737FL (3 mils) or 3M™ Velvet Textured Overlaminate Label Material 7738FL (5 mils) are often selected to achieve the desired look. 3M™ Overlaminate Label Material, Series 8900 provides a variety of overlaminates that enhance the appearance and durability of printed and colored films. Special effects can be created using these films including carbon fiber, silver, gold sparkle and an overall brushed appearance.