FAQ: What is the difference between laminated and unlaminated labels?

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Oct 31, 2014
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What is the difference between laminated and unlaminated labels?

The difference between laminated and unlaminated labels is what happens after the labels are printed.

All of our labels are printed on adhesive-backed vinyl. After printing, an additional layer of adhesive-backed protective film can optionally be applied (or laminated) on top of the printed surface. This adds thickness, as well as improving the look, the feel, and even the sound once they are applied to a chip. We print on glossy vinyl when making labels that are going to be laminated, so that the laminate adheres a bit better and the graphics are as clear as possible through the laminate itself.

The laminating film is available in a few styles -- see this thread.

Naturally, unlaminated labels are applied to the chip without an additional protective layer, keeping the overall thickness to a minimum. The inks are still waterproof and relatively resistant to wear. Of course, you can always scratch something if you try hard enough, but under normal use they hold up just fine. We print on matte vinyl for unlaminated labels, to keep the glare down to a minimum. (Unlaminated glossy labels tend to look a bit cheap -- think "bumper sticker".)

Duh, all of that was obvious. The real question is: When would you use laminated labels vs unlaminated?

Unlaminated labels are very good, but are really only intended for applying over the existing inlays on casino-grade chips (e.g. Paulsons) because they are thinner. Laminated labels are generally always preferable to unlaminated labels -- as mentioned, they give the chips a better look, a better feel, and even a better sound -- but they are not recommended for applying over existing inlays, because the additional thickness risks creating spinners and other stacking & handling issues.

If you are removing the existing inlays or labels from your chips and replacing them with labels, you should always use laminated labels. This goes for any type of chip: Paulson casino chips, china clays such as Milanos, Majestics, Royals, or anything else.

One difference in usage between laminated and unlaminated labels is their typical final-cut size. For example, unlaminated labels intended for Paulson casino chips are sized to fill the entire inlay recess on the face of the chip. Note that this is larger than the factory inlay! On most Paulson chips, there is a region of "blank" chip between the inlay and the edge of the inlay recess. While it's certainly possible to print (or leave unprinted, for a white label) the entire label area, it looks much better to mimic the border of "blank" chip with a printed outer edge matching the base color of the chip.

For example:
JACK Detroit $25 -- Paulson RHC with faux shaped inlay

The unaltered factory chip looks like this:
JACK $25.png
JACK $25 dimensions.png

An unlaminated label with no border might look like this:

overlabel no border.png

An unlaminated label with a border colormatched to the chip would look like this:
(Note, the colormatched border is deliberately shown the wrong color here, so you can tell which part is which. The point is that the entire inlay recess is filled with label.)

overlabel with border.png

If the inlay were removed and replaced it might look like this:

inlay replaced no shape.png

Or removed & replaced with a faux shape:

inlay replaced with shape.png
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