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Flatbed vs Roll, hot vs cold, too many options

Alamo

New Member
We are in the market to buy a laminator and I’m hoping someone can chime in to tell me if we’re making the right choice. Regarding roll vs flatbed, I think we’d like to start with a flatbed as we have a 4x8 flatbed printer so we can 1. Do flat media 2. Still do some roll media just in parts, and 3. Gain another work table that we need. I figured if we get into doing more roll media then we can add a roll laminator later on. We are looking at the CWT 1640 in the $20k range but I also noticed they have electric versions for more with heat assist. In what scenario would we need that? I’d hate to buy one then shortly find out we should’ve spent the extra money, whatever that may be, to have the heat
 

signheremd

New Member
We have a 1640 and it is the only laminator we have. We use it every day and really like it. We even use it to roll on translucent vinyl onto long faces (do about half at a time we have done up to 24' long). Ours does not have heat and is not electric with the exception of a light - which is useful to match colors up for rta or acrylic. I see no need for the electric, as far application other than for a light (underneath). To help keep the surface in good shape we roll on 54" clear lamination and replace twice a year. you will get some silvering with cold lamination, but an hours of sun will heat and cool and work that back out. Be sure to get at least one tack roller (we buy a new one on Amazon every couple of years). The CWT 1640 is one of our favorite tools.
 

ikarasu

Active Member
I can't imagine laminating roll media on the flatbed that often. We do it when we need to laminate 60" but that's it.... Like once a month and we hate it.

With a flatbed printing most of your printing will be direct to substrate I presume. So the roll to roll printer is going to be for stickers / substrates you don't print on, wall graphics / other graphics? I'd hate to do those on a flatbed. What do you do when someone orders 500 stickers? Print it on 8 ft sections? Then unwind 8 ft of laminate, manually Lam the vinyl, unwind another 8 ft, etc? Think about it... If you print 50 ft of vinyl, not only do you have to split your prints up into 8 ft sections, you have to manually unwind the overlam 7 times, manually put it on 7 times... By the time you've laminated 10 ft it'd have all been laminated on a roll laminator.

A flatbed laminator is great - but if you're using it as a work table to do a ton of cutting and stuff, it turns into a not so great laminator. We use our flatbed 8 hours a day mounting aluminum / trimming signs... Brand new it's great,but now there's some flat spots where we use the table a lot that causes slight bubbling when laminating. Buy a new $750 cutting matt (because anything over a 48" cutting matt is crazy expensive...) And it's back to laminating perfectly... Until the pressure from mounting 1000 signs causes anotherndjp.

It may take you years to get to that point... but if you're also using it as a work table, it may take you even less. Every cut / knick / non smooth surface will make your laminating slightly worst -

It's the same reason we don't use our laminators for mounting - laminate is very finicky, the more pristine the rollers are .. the better your laminating goes.


At the very least, I'd buy the cwt and a $2-3000 cheapo laminator to do all the laminating on. Or budget it in knowing you should be buying it sooner than later.

Unless you plan on printing under 8 ft of roll vinyl a day . And if that's the case you should be outsourcing anyways.
 

Dan Berg

New Member
We are in the market to buy a laminator and I’m hoping someone can chime in to tell me if we’re making the right choice. Regarding roll vs flatbed, I think we’d like to start with a flatbed as we have a 4x8 flatbed printer so we can 1. Do flat media 2. Still do some roll media just in parts, and 3. Gain another work table that we need. I figured if we get into doing more roll media then we can add a roll laminator later on. We are looking at the CWT 1640 in the $20k range but I also noticed they have electric versions for more with heat assist. In what scenario would we need that? I’d hate to buy one then shortly find out we should’ve spent the extra money, whatever that may be, to have the heat
We have a beautiful Seal 62 Base with heat assist top roll for sale. $5995. These are $16k+ new Picked up only se Pa 19540.
 

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