What’s the difference between laminating and encapsulating? | Learning Hub | Fineline Print & Web

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Hello, I’m Alec from Fineline Print, and I’m back again to show you the difference between Laminating and Encapsulating in the world of print. 

And the reason I want to spend a few moments to talk about this subject is because the term laminating is very often mistakenly used to describe both processes. 

But, in practice, laminating and encapsulation are two very different finishing tasks designed to do different things. So, it’s important to get the terminology right so that so actually get what you ask for!

So, let’s dive straight in and look at what these two finishing processes are and where they would be used. 



Whilst both processes use a film covering, laminating film can be applied to one or both sides of your printed document. But the important thing is that the film is trimmed flush with the edge of the printed item. 




This is important because if the finished item is going to be exposed to liquids or prolonged damp then sooner or later that liquid will seep between the layers of film and card causing them to peel apart.

Laminating film will generally be very thin and is designed to do two things:


  • To provide a protective covering to the document and 


  • To improve the appearance of the item being laminated – by providing a deep shine which looks and feels luxurious. 


Laminating film can be both Matt and Gloss – so which is best?


Gloss film imparts a high shine finish giving the design a much more striking look; the light reflects off the cover and the Blacks have a richer depth. 

With Matt film, the Blacks are slightly paler and perhaps a little duller, but overall it has a high-class look with a sophisticated feel that isn’t trying to grab attention by being ‘shiny’.

Matt lamination gives a subtle, tactile effect that oozes quality, great for items where image and first impressions mean everything.


Top Tip: Matt film can show up fingerprints which is good to be aware of before sending items out!


Lamination is ideal for Business Cards, Menus and Presentation folders to really make them stand out from the crowd. 



During encapsulation, film is always applied to both sides of the paper or card and, most importantly, extends a few millimetres of the edge of the material to completely seal it.

The sole aim is to protect the printed item and provide a completely waterproof barrier.




Encapsulation films tend to be thicker and can substantially increase the rigidity of the finished page.


Top Tip: square cut corners can be sharp so if your item is likely to be handled by children or vulnerable adults round corner cutting is recommended.


Encapsulation is ideal for Maps, Menus, ID Badges and any printed item which you want to make completely waterproof.



I hope this quick run through has been interesting but before you go …

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