Material choice is an incredibly tricky process and can cause all sorts of headaches for print companies. After all, if you don’t get this decision right, you put the quality of valuable projects at risk and could incur additional, unnecessary costs.
Incorrect media choices could lead to in-house issues such as having to reprint jobs if you selected the wrong material in the first instance. When working on-site, using the wrong media could damage a surface, which could then mean further costs to repair.
For this reason, you should never underestimate the importance of specifying the correct film and laminate — doing so will save you time and money. While all print shops may not always have the luxury of being able to test and approve material, not doing so for a difficult application, or a particularly challenging installation, could cause serious issues.
Key factors when testing print materials
There are several key factors that you should be looking out for when testing your chosen materials. These include:
- Ease of installation
- The time it takes to install the material
- How long it takes to remove the graphic
It’s important to remember that not all adhesives perform the same way; each product brings with it different features that can help this process. For example, some will carry a dot or air egress adhesive, while others may have clean removal science, allowing for them to be removed after use without leaving any residue or damaging the surface underneath.
Then there is the strength of the adhesive, which again differs from product to product. With any complicated installation, you should always look to perform an adhesive adhesion test to ensure it will apply to the surface, remain in place for the desired amount of time, and be removable when the project is complete.
Similarly, not all surfaces are the same, and each will cause materials to perform differently. If you are installing graphics on low-energy or rough surfaces, this may require selecting different products than those you would use when applying materials to surfaces such as smooth walls and floors.
To make the test and approval process easier, some companies offer printable films in smaller roll sizes, as well as overlaminate samples and printed hand swatches of their products.
With sample rolls, you can produce a sample print, add an overlaminate and present a mock-up to your client for approval, ensuring you are achieving the desired results before committing to the full project.
To reiterate: you should never underestimate the importance of specifying (and testing) the correct film and laminate for certain projects. Doing so will save you time and money in the long run.