Expanding Your Finishing Profitability, Part I
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Expanding Your Finishing Profitability, Part I

Perhaps one of the greatest attributes of your companyís finishing department is the fact that, despite the whirlwind of technological change in all other facets of your business, your trusty laminator can still keep pace with the increasing demands of your customers. Your laminator is an investment that with the right amount of imagination, ingenuity and know-how can become more profitable for your business than ever before.

By Hayden Kelley

While many people perceive mounting and laminating as a necessary evil, this could not be further from the truth. For if the correct combination of media, ink, substrates and laminates are used, your laminator can become one of the greatest profit centers available to your business. If you are not already offering specialty products like Dry-Erase surfaces, Floor Graphics, Magnet-Receptive Displays, or other unique offerings your business is missing out on some very profitable niche applications. These applications will reduce competitive price pressure by being exclusive to your shop. Simply use your imagination and donít be afraid to try new ideas. The results will speak for themselves.

Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

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  • It is my experience that many businesses view the finishing of graphics as a necessary final step before shipping the prints back to the customer. It is viewed as simply a method of protecting the inks. While this is in fact one of the key reasons for laminating your images it should not be viewed as the only reason. Today, there are a host of specialty films and adhesives available that will allow you to expand your offerings to your customers. All that will be required on the part of your staff is some training.

    What must be kept in mind is that not all jobs can or should be laminated with a 3.0 mil gloss film on the front and a 3.0 mil gloss film on the back. Your customers may not be aware of the wide array of options available, but they should be. This is where the role of your sales department should expand beyond simply offering graphics, but more precisely graphic solutions that do exactly what they are intended to do, catch the eye of its intended target audience.

    How do you go about doing this? Well, the answer to this is fairly straightforward; expand the finishing options that you are currently offering your customers. Educate your customers as to what is available to them. Sometimes they may opt for a 3-mil gloss encapsulation, because they are not sure what the best option is for their output, however, it is your job to ensure that they know what other options are available to them. Let the salesperson in you come alive! Show your customers what you can do. Put together sample binders for your sales staff and place some of your more unique offerings in your showroom or at your front desk. Seeing is believing, and by showing your customers what options are available to them, and by charging them accordingly for a premium finish, your finishing department will continue to be a lucrative profit center for your company.

    The keys to expanding upon your current offerings are simply to know what the capabilities of your machine are and to use your imagination. Many of your competitors already are, and you should be too.

    Unique Ideas
    The following is an outline of a number of different ideas; some are more unique than others, for your sales staff to introduce to your customers. For each project we have outlined what materials are required and how to complete the project. Each project varies somewhat in terms of difficulty and material costs, but they are all very similar in that they can be quite profitable. After all, many customers are willing to spend more to get more and with these projects they will certainly be getting more.

    Dry-Erase Finish
    While being most appropriate for use wherever a dry-erase finish is required, this type of finish is appropriate for a number of different applications, including planners, workflow charts, maps, in/out boards, courtroom displays, etc.

    All that is required for this project is a dry erase laminating film (you must use a specially treated film for dry-erase applications, a standard film will leave ghosting on the image). These films are available in both heat-activated and pressure-sensitive, so even if you only have a cold-roll laminator this is a finish that you can offer to your customers.

    Simply apply the laminating film to your print/substrate as you would any other film, there are no special tricks that need to be learned. Because these materials are relatively inexpensive there is immense potential for profit.

    Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

    Apply a Textured Finish to a Smooth Substrate or Print.
    This idea is excellent for virtually any type of print, particularly posters, murals, portraits, diplomas, certificates, etc. All that is required is a textured laminating film. These textured films are available in a number of different finishes, including canvas, linen, frosted Lexan, leather, etc. These films are usually available in both pressure-sensitive and heat-activated versions (consult your film vendor for further information) and can be applied to virtually any digital output, including flexible images like banners.

    In order to complete this project simply apply the desired laminating film to your print as you would any other similar type of film and your image will appear as if it were printed onto canvas (or whichever texture was chosen).

    Another option available is to laminate a clear substrate with a sand textured laminating film (Drytacís Emerytex) to give an etched glass appearance.

    Fabric Backing and Hinges
    The type of material recommended for this application is suitable for a number of different applications, including as a backer for maps and blueprints or as a hinge (to attach several boards in tiled applications) for trade show and POP displays.

    In order to complete this project will require a fabric backing that has been specially coated with an adhesive to reduce tearing and improve handling of your output (i.e. Drytacís Mapbak, or Sealís Chartex). This material is designed specifically for maps and blueprints, but can also be used for virtually any type of image.

    How To:

    Use as a Backing:

    1.) Encapsulate your image using a vinyl laminating film (either pressure-sensitive or heat-activated) on the front and the linen backing material on the back.

    Use as a Hinge:

    1.) Ensure that the boards that are to be hinged are lined up perfectly.

    2.) Cut the fabric backing film into strips running the length of your boards approximately 6Ē-8Ē wide.

    3.) Apply these cut strips to the back of your boards ensuring that you have enough of the fabric material on each board for adequate adhesion.

    4.) Using a standard household iron apply heat to the fabric material for approximately 30 seconds. You now have a flexible hinge holding your display boards together.

    Join us for part two of Expanding Your Finishing Profitability where we will continue examining other possibilities you can offer your customers.

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