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What is lamination in printing? Everything you need to know

Lamination is the process of applying a thin layer of plastic to sheets of paper or cards to enhance and protect print products. The most common types are glossy, matte and silk type. Plasticising is often used for packaging, book covers, brochures, business cards and other printed items.

Lamination types

We are going to describe the most common types of lamination that you should be aware of if you are going to do any work that involves laminating the product

Plasticised glossy

Glossy laminated business card

Gloss laminates are often the popular choice, and it’s not hard to see why. Writing and images tend to appear sharper and crisper, as well as having more contrast, making them visually very appealing.

Gloss plasticising is also a durable option as it repels dirt, dust and fingerprints with ease. If the plasticised does come into contact with dirt, it is easily wiped clean thanks to its glossy texture.


Lamination process
Plasticized in matte

Matt lamination provides an elegant and sophisticated finish, making it a common choice for many. Compared to other gloss laminates, a matt plasticised has a more “natural” look. Unlike gloss laminates, matte can provide a softer look, as it can produce less contrast in darker colours.

The texture of the matte is velvety, which makes it pleasant to handle for many users

Softouch or silk-type laminate

Lamination on silk plus selective varnish

Silk type follows the same principles as the other laminates by coating ordinary paper with a layer of plastic to make it stronger, more desirable and tougher.

However, what differentiates the two is that this type of lamination has a softer exterior and a superior quality due to the strength of the bond created between the paper and the plastic coating of the plasticising.

The material is not 100% matt or glossy, but it reflects in certain lights in the same way as silk. The finish also means that the product will be more attractive and is considered a “premium” option, as the finish is smooth and natural looking.

Silk lamination is commonly used for finishing business cards, brochures and book covers. It is an adaptable finish that gives a clean look to a wide range of products.

What are the benefits of laminating?

Both matt and gloss lamination offer many important benefits for printed materials that need to be considered if you want to deliver the highest quality product possible. These include:

  • More durability. Plasticised printed parts can withstand high levels of daily use.
  • Protection . Lamination protects against damage caused by fingerprints, liquid spills, stains, grease, dirt and much more. When the laminate gets dirty, it is easy to clean.
  • Enhanced visual and tactile appeal for the product. Enhanced ink colours of the printed item create a more professional look. The increased strength and rigidity of the laminated item gives the impression of higher quality.
  • Easier reading of the content. As it is completely transparent, lamination does not damage or spoil the print.
  • It increases the quality of the product at a low price. Lamination is reasonably priced and you can actually save money by extending the life of printed parts and avoiding the need to reprint damaged parts.

Which products are usually plasticised?

Plasticising is used in a wide variety of printing projects and is ideal for items that are constantly handled. For example:

  • Restaurant menus
  • Price lists
  • Maps
  • Educational material
  • Bookmarks
  • Business and membership cards
  • Marketing material

Plasticising also helps protect printed parts that are used in dirty or wet environments. These include machinery warnings, operating instructions, safety signage, reusable labels, etc

In these environments, the plastic layer often extends beyond the edge of the printed part so that the two layers can be bonded together. This provides an airtight seal that prevents dirt, moisture, and other contaminants from entering the interior.

Frequently asked questions on lamination

Why should I laminate my print products

Lamination finishes offer many advantages to the user, such as being tear-resistant, more durable and water-resistant. Having plasticised materials also makes them easier to handle and prevents wear and tear from everyday practices, such as wrinkles, stains and sun damage.

What is the price of laminating a product?

This will depend on the product on which the lamination process is to be applied, size, type of lamination, etc. Gloss lamination is usually cheaper than matt lamination, although many printers offer both options for the same price.

Softouch is a premium option, so it tends to cost more than the other lamination options mentioned.

Without a doubt, lamination is a very worthwhile option because of the advantages it brings to our product, even if it means a small increase in price.

What is the best type of lamination?

The choice between matt and gloss lamination depends on the printed piece and its intended use. Both types provide a strong, clear coverage that makes text and graphics fully visible to the reader.

However, it should be noted that matte absorbs light while glossy reflects it. This makes a big difference to the look of the printed piece and the impact it has on people.

Matt lamination is a better choice when:

  • The printed piece will be placed in direct light (e.g. shop signage). The matte finish helps deflect any glare, making the piece easier to read at any angle.
  • The printed piece will not be handled frequently. Matte laminates can easily scratch or scuff from excessive use.
  • You want a modern, sophisticated look. Matte makes a great first impression.
  • Printed piece contains subdued colour tones.

Glossy lamination is recommended when:

  • The printed piece is an item that is handled a lot every day. Gloss provides a higher level of protection than matt and is easier to clean.
  • You want the piece to have a strong visual impact. With gloss lamination, the colours seem to pop off the page.

If you are thinking of doing some print work and are looking for other types of finishing to make your product unique and stand out from the rest, take a look at our finishing section, where we give you the keys to different finishing touches that you can give your print products to make them much more attractive.

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