In the world of wide-format printing, print service providers typically don’t give the finishing process, a second thought. Traditional small-format printing rarely did anything at all to prints once they came off of the press, whether they were digital or offset.
Sometimes some cutting or folding was performed, or prints were scored or perforated, but for the most part, the printing itself was the main service offered, and the primary service required by clients.
As wide format printing began to take off, however, clients often began to bring in their own pre-printed items and request that they just have finishing services performed on them. While that isn’t as common nowadays, wide format printers still need to be aware of the vast array of finishing options out there. Keeping up with the ever-evolving finishing game can help printers to stand out from the crowd, as well as allow them to service the needs of any customer they get.
While a single printing shop can’t be expected to offer every single type of finishing service out there, having a comprehensive understanding of what is being provided by print service providers around the world can allow providers to offer a selection that they think will cover most of the bases for their customer base.
This is one of the most common types of finishing processes and means covering your print with a clear plastic film. The lamination will protect prints from elements like dirt, light, graffiti, water, being crushed or folded. Some types of lamination can make colors look brighter and more vibrant as well. If a print can’t be done on a rigid surface, lamination helps to add some rigidity to the print. This is especially useful for the installation process because trying to maneuver a large floppy print can be a nightmare.
Mounting is another one of the most popular finishing methods for prints. Mounting involves taking the finished print graphic and adding it to a surface that provides added rigidity, like gatorboard, Foamcore, or Sintra (PVC). Foamcore is similar to styrofoam, and is resistant to bending and lightweight, but can be crushed near the corners and edges very easily. Sintra is a lightweight type of rigid board that is consists of PVC. Gatorboard, known as gator foam, is much more rigid than Foamcore and far less likely to be easily crushed. It is not as resistant to bending however and is known to be more brittle than Foamcore, and much more expensive as well.
This type of finishing is a way of branding a print with heat. The heat can be used to apply any text or element of a design onto an object or print. This method is commonly used to add logos and company names, or numeric information like part numbers to a print.
Doming is used to add a 3D element to a print by adding thick polyurethane resin to an area that hardens. It’s most commonly added to labels, decals, and specialty items. The resin that is used in the doming process can also make colors below it seem brighter and much more vibrant.
The finishing process is quickly becoming one of the biggest areas of interest for printing clients, learn more about the various types of finishing methods in part 2 of this article.