Roll laminators are amazing machines. If you have never used one, you have probably seen something laminated on one. Roll laminators are typically easy machines to use, which is why it is so frustrating when things don’t go as planned. Roll laminators (found here), as amazing as they are, can cause some serious headaches. If you know what you’re doing, and what to look out for, you should be able to quickly remedy any issues you may run across. Here are some common issues and some simple solutions to help you out.
Before you troubleshoot a roll laminator, it is important to have basic knowledge on how they work. The process is simple when you break it down into a few simple features:
- Roll laminators use two rolls of film. One roll goes on the top and the other roll goes on the bottom. This is often referred to as double-sided lamination.
- Roll laminators use special film rolls that are placed on rods called mandrels. This is how laminating film is attached to a roll laminator and it is from there that the film is dispersed.
- Roll laminators use heat to melt the glue on the laminating film, causing it to stick to the document or item being laminated. When the item leaves the laminator, the glue cools and the process is completed.
- Paper enters the roll laminator from the front and exits it from the back.
With this basic knowledge in mind, here are a few of the most common issues that occur with roll laminators and simple solutions to fix them:
- Cloudy Film – Symptoms of cloudy film involve patches of white throughout the laminated document. This is typically the result of non-melted film. When the adhesive melts on laminating film, it becomes crystal clear. The easiest way to remedy this issue is to turn the temperature up on the laminator. If this still doesn’t fix the problem, you may be using old film or defective film.
- Ripples – If your film has ripples in it, the film may be being fed in incorrectly. When the top roll and bottom roll aren’t aligned, this can cause ripples and crinkles in the film. Try running the laminator without documents and see how the film is lining up. If it isn’t aligned, adjust the roll on the mandrel until it is lined up with the other roll. This could also be the result of the tension being far too high on one of the rolls, causing film to be dispersed faster on one roll than the other. Most user’s manuals include instructions on properly adjusting the tension on a mandrel.
- Waves – Waves in laminating film is usually the result of the temperature being too hot. The glue is liquefying too quickly and slides around, resulting in waves when the glue solidifies. Try turning the temperature down and see if this remedies the problem. It could be that the tension on your film mandrels needs to be adjusted as well.
- Bubbles – Bubbles in film is almost always the result of the temperature being too high. Many people don’t realize different mil thicknesses of film require different temperatures. If there are bubbles in the film, the glue is actually boiling, creating air pockets in the film Turn the temperature down and you will more than likely fix the problem.
- Curl – If your film is curling, you have the tension too high or too low on one of the film roller’s mandrels. What is happening is one roller is dispensing film slightly faster or slower than the other roller. This causes the film to curl into a U shape after it is cut. While the results may look OK, curled film is difficult to work with and isn’t good for signs, posters and other documents. Try tightening or loosing the tension on one of the mandrels. Run a few tests and decide if more adjustments are necessary. If the curling gets worse, it means you need to loosen the tension rather than tighten it.
- Jams – I have found that the most common culprit with a roll laminator jam is misfeeding the document from the start. This is where it is critical that you have your side guide properly lined up. If the document is fed crooked, even if it is off by a few millimeters, the angle will progressively get worse as the material is pulled into the laminator. Eventually the document will hit the side of the laminator and will cause a jam to occur. The only solution is to ensure the side guide is correct and that the item is fed in properly. This also happens when a user is trying to laminate an item that is probably too big for the laminator being used. A 27″ laminator can be used to laminate a 27″ wide document, but there is absolutely zero room for error.
This isn’t going to solve all your issues, but should help with the most common issues. We have a really nice Service Department here at ABC Office that can help you fix your roll laminator, get replacement parts and more. You can contact our Laminator Service Department by calling 1-800-658-8788. You can find our entire selection of roll laminators here.