By Cassandra Balentine
Printed output is often completed with coatings or laminates for added durability and protection. A variety of lamination equipment is on the market, serving the needs of office environments and print providers alike.
In House Lamination
Established in 1947, Century Tile sells and installs ceramic, vinyl, carpet, wood, laminate, marble, and also stocks related items like area rugs, tools, and sundries. Its typical client base includes retail customers and contractors. The company operates eight locations and staffs more than 100 employees. It is based out of Lombard, IL and primarily services the surrounding area.
The family-owned business operates with the mission of being a customer-driven company focused on increasing its sales and marketshare. It strives to differentiate itself from the competition in product, presentation, and service—all while supporting its reputation for value and selection.
It carries more than 10,000 styles and colors of directly imported floor coverings as well as major domestically offered flooring brands.
With many products and locations, the company organizes its stock with product catalogs, which are printed in house on a standard office printer and laminated for longevity and durability. Randi Downs, corporate administrative assistant, Century Tile, says the company handles all of its print needs in house in order to control the quality and cost.
It recently served as a beta site for the new GBC Foton 30 automatic-feed laminator. The fully automated desktop laminator is designed to feed, laminate, and trim with the touch of a button. The laminator is equipped with a built-in automatic feeder and trimmer to deliver automatic lamination. An integrated, 30-page sheet feeder with deskew capabilities ensures documents are straight upon entering the laminator. Three operation modes produce high-quality lamination for many document types.
The pouch-less laminator features an easy-to-load, self-threading cartridge that makes changing film simple. It handles a minimum paper size of 5×6 inches and a maximum paper size of 11×17 inches. In auto-feed mode, it handles media weights of 65 to 120 gsm, and 65 to 250 gsm in manual feed mode. The warm up time for 3-mil lamination is three minutes and reaches a maximum speed of up to 700 millimeters per minute. For 5-mil the warm up time is four minutes and it reaches a maximum speed of up to 650 mm per minute. Standard and bulk cartridges are available in 3- and 5-mil.
Prior to implementing the Foton 30, Century Tile operated a HeatSeal 950 laminator. However, it was having trouble keeping up and so the company decided it was time to upgrade.
The Foton 30 is used to laminate the pricing catalogs for all of its stores. Downs says the catalogs help the salesmen keep track of products they are selling, as well as product specifications like how many square feet are in a carton and any other details that come along with the product that a customer may want to know.
So far, Downs says the Foton 30 has performed well. “We decided not to evaluate any other machines. It is a self-laminator where you put pages into the machine and then cut afterwards. Technically there is no other machine on the market that self laminates. We’re so excited that the Foton 30 came out,” she shares.
The fact that the machine can run all day is the machine’s biggest advantage, according to Downs. “It’s easy to change the rolls of laminate when the machine is empty. It is small and lightweight so it can be used or stored anywhere,” she adds. “It is also very easy to use and tells you when things are wrong.”
There was a slight learning curve, which Downs says is because the Foton 30 has more settings than the HeatSeal 950. This has turned out to be an advantage. “The machine now can run longer pieces of paper. You can make it automatic along with turning it into manual device to help the machine perform specialty work,” comments Downs.
As previously mentioned, Century Tile carries a large stock of products, and each of its eight stores require an up-to-date catalog at all times. The laminator’s main purpose is to protect these catalog pages, which are updated often.
Downs says every time there is a cost change or a size is added or dropped, a new page is printed, laminated, and punched for each page for each store. “I run the machine every day—sometimes for a couple of hours and sometimes for the full day,” shares Downs.
Lamination is needed because the pages need to last for months to a year. “If we did not use lamination, the paper would rip with all the salesman flipping through the pages. When laminated, the pages last a long time and look good enough to show customers—even a year after it was produced,” she adds.
Investing in new equipment requires much thought and consideration. For Century Tile, it was the right time to incorporate next-generation lamination technology to better serve its print finishing needs.
Downs, for one, believes its new laminator has improved the process of producing new catalog pages on demand. She notes that it is quiet and can run all day with limited operator intervention. “I don’t have to worry about jamming or shut downs,” she shares. “It has affected our process by making lamination faster with no issues.”
Jan2020, DPS Magazine