Synthetic vs Lamination: The Difference it Can Make in Your Project

Arquivo em: Map Printing / August 1, 2018

map printing

When choosing your map printing parameters, is it best to choose a substrate that is durable in demanding conditions from the starting line, or opt for lamination as part of your finishing services?

Key Considerations: Synthetic vs Lamination

To get to the crux of the matter, it’s essential to understand key differences between these two map printing options:

  • Lamination
    A common and effective means of protecting printed materials, lamination is applied post-press, after the map has been printed on paper. With lamination, a thin film of plastic is applied to the map. The result is a more durable, tear-proof, water-resistant map.
  • Synthetic Substrates
    Unlike wood pulp and natural fiber based substrates, synthetic substrates are commonly made of polymer blends such as polyester and polypropylene. That doesn’t mean synthetic substrates feel funny, however. High-quality synthetics are tough to distinguish from ‘the real thing.’ With a reputation for incredible strength and durability, synthetic substrates are resistant to tearing, water, grease, and depending on the substrate, alcohol and other chemicals.

Which Substrate is More Durable – Synthetic or Laminated?

With ‘sealed edge lamination,’ where plastic laminate film extends 1/8”-1/2” past the map perimeter, a strong seal ensures dirt and fluids do not penetrate the document. But there is a downside: The odd clear lip left surrounding the map isn’t pretty. Step-in ‘flush cut lamination,’ where the lamination it trimmed evenly with the edge of the map. Prettier, but not protected, moisture will eventually permeate the paper as lamination edges wear and separate over time. Synthetics, however, provide a clean look that protects the entire document from the start – with none of the additional time and expense of extra finishing processes that are necessary with lamination.

Which Substrate will Help My Map Look Best?

From a distance, laminated maps and those printed on synthetic substrates look very similar. But a closer look will reveal key differences:

  • An unattractive clear plastic film border surrounding ‘sealed edge’ laminated maps, as opposed to the tight, professional profile of substrates showcased on synthetics.
  • A stiff, unnatural feel in laminated pieces, versus the paper-like feel of maps printed on synthetics.
  • A distracting glare on laminated maps, that can make them hard to read, especially when outside. Where synthetics, on-the-other-hand, offer a range of opacities to reduce glare and uphold the look of your map.

Which Offers the Most Flexibility in Options & Finishing?
Like natural paper, synthetics come in a variety of colors, weights, and finishes. They are easily folded, hole-punched, die-cut, and embossed. Options which are normally impossible (or quite costly) with laminated maps, due to the propensity for moisture penetration.

Which Costs More – Synthetic or Laminated?

Delivering beautiful printed results and exceptionable durability right off the press, many are surprised to discover synthetic substrates can be up to 35% more cost-effective than lamination.

Which is More Environmentally Friendly?

Commonly referred to as ‘treeless paper,’ synthetic substrates are 100% recyclable, unlike laminated film, which is not. In addition, the added durability of synthetics keeps them out of the waste stream longer. Worried about the production of synthetics? Unlike the harsh chemicals necessary in the manufacturing of lamination, synthetics require no chlorine, heavy metals, stearates, or other cancerous chemicals for production, making them a far greener option.

Curious about giving synthetics a try? Contact a MapPrinter professional to learn more today.