Laminated Business Cards – What Are They, and Do I Need Them?

Well presented, quality laminated business cards help you as an owner of a business to create that vital favourable first impression. A poor quality card can reflect badly on your business image so choose a print supplier with a good service on offer and you should be fine.

How do we attempt to correct the ‘quality’ problem by using laminated cards?

The price of laminated business cards differ hugely amongst online print suppliers. The majority of print suppliers offer a design-your-own service whereby the onus is placed on the purchaser to spot and select a relevant design, complete all the other card details and possibly upload a logo before proceeding to the checkout, even before contact has been made. This suits particular business types such as the mobile hairdressing profession, cabbies, electricians etc. where a ‘quality image’ is often not so important to garner work. A plain, neatly presented business card using a quality design is often all that is required in many cases.

A small to medium enterprise however, as well as any blue chip company, will have a desire to create an instantly recognisable quality brand, that can be produced to cover all company marketing materials. In these instances, brand and colour consistency across the full range of business stationery is vital to preserve the company image.

Laminated business cards can be produced as the first step to switching from the plain single colour or two colour business card, to something that smacks of a quality design.

How is a laminated business card produced?

Essentially, it’s produced using 2 sheets of laminate enclosing a plain card front and back. Laminated cards differ from the plastic pouch often used with the typical office laminating machine, which uses a much thicker laminate. Quality card lamination is measured in microns, and is invisible to the eye, the main way to test if the card is laminated is by attempting to rip one in half, or just try rubbing the ink.

Matt lamination, and gloss lamination are the main process offered by suppliers, depending on your design requirement. Some people choose to laminate one side only, and leave the other side of the card plain, but the normal process is to have both sides laminated. Whatever you may hear, it’s actually a fallacy that laminated cards are a problem to write on, just grab a biro and try it! Being able to write on the card has advantages for certain users, such as adding names on membership cards etc.

Laminated cards feel much nicer than the plain non laminated version. Another huge bonus is the laminate process helps to enhance colour and your design, due to its reflectivity.

Are all suppliers laminated business cards similar, or do they differ in any way?

Unfortunately, they can be quite different. If you see prices for laminated cards that seem too good to be true, then it’s possible the supplier may have used a thin card, often not much thicker than paper, and then laminated with a cheaper, thick laminate which feels completely different. At the very least, choose a supplier who’s using 350gsm card, but ideally 400gsm card which will generally give quality results. Where a good quality card has been used, a very thin laminate process will compliment it perfectly.

What’s the main purpose of laminating business cards?

The first reason is one of a production hurdle that has to be overcome.

For instance, a plain business card, without the laminate may just have the contact details and little else, which uses minimal ink in the process. This will cause no problems for the supplier charged with the job of getting the business card produced. To throw a spanner into the works, let’s consider the designer wants the whole of the business card reverse produced in a solid process colour.

One thing to point out at this time is the fact laminated business cards are never produced singly in the lithographic process, but produced in ‘groups’ to keep production costs to a minimum for the supplier. As the business cards are produced and leave the press, they drop into a single stack. As business cards are added to the stack more weight is forced down onto the cards in the bottom section of the stack and if the ink hasn’t dried completely, which will be the case in our scenario due to the reverse being a solid process colour, then it’s possible ink will transfer from one business card to another. This is called ink offset or ink transfer which is bad news for the supplier who will need to start the whole process again.

Although your supplier has other ways to get ink to dry, solid colours are still a problem, particularly on plain, non laminated cards. Did you know? Blue colour inks take longer to dry than other colours. One way to prevent this type of issue is to laminate both sides of the business card before it reaches the stack and before the ink has a chance to touch any other business card in the stack.

My favourite reason for laminating colour business cards is that they look and feel so much better than the equivalent non-laminated version, with a vibrancy to the colours not seen on plain cards.

Any other info you can share about Laminated Business Cards?

Yes, make sure you ask your supplier for printed samples of laminated business cards along with the plain non laminated variety so you can see the results in comparison, before having your own cards produced. Your supplier should do this as a matter of course, however not all suppliers are the same so be sure to make contact.

By the way, laminated cards are produced by a quality four colour process. It’s usually too expensive to laminate spot colour business cards as these cannot be produced alongside four colour cards, and indeed would need a press to be specifically inked-up to print them. However, the benefit of the four colour process (CMYK) is that the sky’s the limit when choosing how many colours to use in your design, so be as creative as you wish with your main design! Also, be sure to not mix in spot colours with four colour process inks as the spot colour details will go missing due to the process being different than the four colour process.

If you own a company that needs laminated business cards produced for more than one member of staff, I’d recommend trying to group together as many names as possible when ordering as this will help to keep costs to a minimum as it’s easier for your supplier to get a batch produced. Contact your supplier for prices and you’ll soon get a feel for how to save money.