Flame lamination is a technique that is often used to laminate flexible materials (usually fabrics) to foams and, in some cases, lofted non-woven polyesters (as might be seen used as quilting batting). The technique involves impinging an open flame directly onto the foam, thereby creating a thin, viscous, molten tacky layer (with a relatively short
curing time) on the surface of the foam. The secondary material (fabric, film, another foam or one of many potential substrates) is quickly introduced onto the tacky surface and a bond is created in comparatively short order.
One of the primary advantages of flame lamination is that it requires no adhesive. This, apart from the cost saving aspect, provides the “green” benefit of one less component for recycling separation. Another common benefit is through-put – flame lamination processes generally move at quicker speeds than many other laminating options.
Before assuming that flame lamination is the way to go to create your laminate, it is important to know whether or not the materials to be laminated will, in fact, respond to the process. In other words, not all materials can be flame laminated. At least one of the layers must respond to the open flame by creating the tacky layer. Otherwise, you’re simply burning the material.
Another important consideration is that flame lamination will invariably reduce the thickness of the material against which the flame is impinged. This “burn-off” will vary, depending on a few factors, like material density or processing speed. Allowance must often be made by starting with a material that is slightly thicker than the finished target thickness.
Though not a cure-all, a flame laminated bond could well prove to be the best option for certain materials in certain applications. A call to a flame laminating specialist (like Dal-Bac) to discuss this possibility, could well pay off in over-all value for your project.