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Common Plastic Card Lamination Defects

August 25, 2015 at 7:37 PM

Plastic card lamination is a fairly definable process, but the changes in book construction, laminates, inks and other factors can affect card quality.

There are 3 common card defects:

  1. Delamination
  2. Card Frosting
  3. Features on the cards that are not “crisp” looking.


Delamination can be caused by either insufficient heat, or insufficient pressure. When correcting whatever issue is the source of the problem change either the temperature, or the pressure, not both, in small increments. (5° F, or 5PSI for example). Laminate a complete book and observe the results. While typical hot press temperatures for PVC is usually around 280°, just try 285° at first and increase in 5° increments. Don’t go beyond the laminate manufacturers recommendations, however. If this does not solve the problem back the temperature down and increase the hot press pressure; usually around 160PSI. Remember the Cold Press pressure will be significantly higher than the hot press pressure.

Frosting is a phenomenon where the surface of the card is rough over all, or parts of the card. Usually this defect is due to insufficient pressure. Check the Cold Press Pressure as this part of the process is where the card surface is finished and becomes shiny in appearance. Check also the card print design to make certain that there are no areas of the card where entrapped air might cause the issue.

Unclear Features Lines are not crisp and colors are not vivid as designed. This is usually caused by too much heat, and or heat that is not uniform across the platen. Check the location of the defects in relation to the location of their position on the sheet. If the cards on the outer edges are not clear then make certain that the heat is not influenced by outside ambient temperatures. The Burkle Thermal Heating System insures that the temperature is uniform across the platen as the steel platens retain heat uniformly like a reservoir.

For more information on Card Defects and their causes contact Burkle’s Service Organization for more details. A temperature/Pressure Calibration service can be offered to insure that your Burkle system meets new machine standards.