13 Jun How does lamination work?
You will probably have noticed that we have an array of products that are all laminated in uniquely different ways. This may lead you to think: “What exactly is the common link? What is lamination?” We thought we would put together a short answer to that very question and a brief run-through of how exactly all these different laminated fabrics are made.
Let’s start with the basics. There are many variations on the fabric lamination theme but essentially, a laminate is a layered construction of fabric bonded with one of a range of polymer films or adhesives. These films help to create materials with a variety of qualities, including waterproof, flame retardant and anti-microbial. The key elements in the process are usually heat and pressure. The former melts the polymer adhesives so that the fabrics can bond and the latter forces the various layers together to form a single unit.
The Lamination Process
So how does lamination actually work? We use six different processes to bond films to fabrics. The first is the water-based or solvent-based process. With this method, fabrics are bonded together using adhesives that are applied wet and which then dry to form a strong, plastic- or rubber-like film.
Spray bonding is a particular type of solvent-based lamination and is best used when the feel of delicate fabrics are to be maintained. The polymer adhesive is sprayed onto the surface of the fabrics. Rollers then press the two layers together to form a bond.
Flame-bonding is perhaps the most economical process and this is used to bond polyurethane foams to a versatile range of substrates. The foam is exposed to open flame, which causes the polymer layer on one side of it to melt. This layer is then pressed together with another layer of fabric by passing them through rollers, causing them to stick together closely at what is known as the nip point. The two layers are stuck fast together and the polymer cools and dries into its original consistency, forming a permanent bond.
With powder lamination, a powdered adhesive is applied to the surface of the fabrics in a dry, solid form and then heated. It then melts and forms a bond.
Both film lamination and web lamination make use of flatbed technology that involves rapid conducting of heat to pre-applied, dry adhesive webs on the surface of the fabrics. This method cuts down on heating and drying times.
Finally, with hot melt laminations, a gravure roller system is used to apply hot, molten blobs of laminate to fabrics in a random pattern. This creates a breathable laminate and is ideal for lightweight fabrics.
Now that you have an idea of the basic fundamentals of lamination, contact us to find out which one of our processes and products is right for your needs.