I get a few email inquiries from this thread so I thought I should post an update as some things have changed:
We have stopped laminating the canvas prints after a string of application disasters and are now spraying prints. An apparently bad shipment of media from drytac and an aging laminator combined to wreck two large orders. I guess it's a good thing that the defects are immediately noticeably though why they would continue to run through the rest of the batch when something is wrong I have no idea.
No problems with the laminate product if it gets properly applied and a laminated piece has a few advantages that none of the coatings seem able to match --> nearly indestructible and never cracks during stretching (at all). Only downside we've found is that the tension seems to loosen a bit over time but since ours were only laminated on one side it is easy to tighten with a bit of water and sunlight.
Currently we are having the pieces sprayed by two different sources but are also waiting some test results for an additional lamination product that is something like a combination of spray and lam as we need something for commercial locations.
Note that in answer to one of Mark's comments on the sparkle the laminate is textured and reflects light differently when layed flat than when hung on a wall.
We are outsourcing the spraying as I don't have time, space, or interest in doing it myself. Printing is no problem as I can do something else while it's going on.
One person is using a water-based acrylic (bc) and another is using the solvent based Clear Jet. We are having some problems with cracking from both which was not an issue at all with laminate. I haven't actually seen a finished sprayed result with the acrylic as the prints that are supposed to come back to me keep getting sold but compared to prior rolling efforts I prefer the clear jet. Very thin and completely even with a nice low luster for the semigloss and the gloss really looks nice with the same sort of sheen as premium luster. Delicate though and kids, don't spray this at home.
An interesting side issue with the acrylic coatings is that in investigating the cracking I was looking back over a bunch of old stretched canvases that have been sitting in the back room for a year or two and found that I could not really tell the three different water-based acrylic coatings apart by visual quality alone.
PS: In searching for a Minneapolis canvas stretcher (see other post) I came across white house color (www.whcc.com
) and though they won't stretch my
canvas according to the website their
canvas prints are laminated rather than coated. I would expect it's for the same reason we were -- high volume / low labour. I have no idea what their product is or looks like.