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Lamination or encapsulation - what’s the difference?

Buying Guides - Customer Services

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Lamination or encapsulation - what’s the difference?

Lamination or encapsulation - what’s the difference?

Encapsulation is often mistakenly referred to as lamination - so what exactly is the difference?

Cutting to the chase

Lamination: a thin layer of plastic, usually on one side only and trimmed flush to the edge. It is used to enhance the look of the item but it is NOT waterproof.

Encapsulation: for folded maps, a thin layer of tough plastic on both sides, sealed at the edge and waterproof. For wall maps, a thick layer of gloss plastic on both sides, sealed at the edge and waterproof.

In principle, laminating is suitable for indoor applications with light use, whereas encapsulation would be preferable for outdoors use or in situations where a map needs to be well protected to preserve or extend its life.

More info

Lamination usually consists of a thin layer of film (about 30 microns) which is applied to the surface of a piece of paper or board to protect the print and enhance the look. It can be glossy, matt or satin and a common example of lamination would be a book cover. Wall maps are often laminated because it is relatively cheap and improves the appearance of the map.

A sheet of paper is encapsulated when it is completely encased in film. There will be a sealed plastic border around the edges and the finished product will therefore be waterproof. The film used to encapsulate the item could be of a range of thicknesses, according to the use the item will be put to or the effect required.

Thin encapsulation is commonly used on folded maps so that they can be easily refolded once they have been encapsulated. Generally the plastic film will be between 25 and 40 microns on each side.

Thick encapsulation is generally used for wall maps as they tend to hang better on the wall, are well protected and the plastic surface can be written on and wiped off on a regular basis. Film thickness is generally between 75 and 125 microns per side.

Types of film

OPP (Polypropylene) – available in gloss, matt or satin. This film is normally associated with lamination and is for internal use.

Polyester – available in gloss or matt. This film is tougher than Polypropylene and is the best plastic to use on waterproof maps (matt) for use in the field. It is also good for wall maps as it is thicker and more durable than OPP and can therefore extend the life of the map.

What should I choose?

We recommend polyester rather than polypropylene for folded maps as this will substantially increase the durability and therefore the life of the finished article. Most other walking maps currently on the market are encapsulated in polypropylene and will deteriorate much more rapidly. The folding ‘Outstanding All Weather Map’ is encapsulated in the best matt polyester we can find, to give the product the unrivaled wearing potential.

Our flat wall maps are encapsulated in 125 micron gloss plastic for a durable and high quality end product. Matt plastic is also an option, so please feel free to contact us if that is your preference.