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Laminating Machine Guide


Why Laminate?

  • Significantly enhances the color and contrast of pictures.
  • Protects items from fingerprints, smudges and abrasions.
  • Protects items like menus which endure lots of handling.
  • Allows materials to be kept in like-new condition for many years.
  • Helps preserve colors longer, indoors or outdoors.
  • Allows items to be handled and shipped without damage.
  • Allows inexpensive paper items or banners to be used outdoors.
  • Allows paper items to be used under water and in other unusual conditions.
  • Increases the strength and rigidity of printed materials.
  • Additional rigidity allows items to stand free or be placed in a frame without backing or reinforcement.
  • Prepares items for immediate presentation under a variety of conditions and display methods.


Laminator Index | Back to Top

Things to consider before purchasing a laminator.

There are many factors you will want to consider before purchasing a laminator. You will want to keep in mind not only what you will laminate now, but what you may need to in the future.

What kind of volume will you be working with?
Before you pick a laminator you will want to take into consideration how many items you will have to laminate per day/per hour. Some laminators will work faster than others and provide better quality.

What size and thickness will you be working with?
Laminators come in various sizes. Some pouch laminators have limitations of 4 inches, whereas others can laminate up to 18 inches wide. Some roll laminators have limitations of 12 inches and others can laminate up to 63 inches.

Lamination film comes in different sizes and thickness. Thinner lamination film is pliable and easy to move, whereas thicker options are tough and hard to bend. Some laminators cannot use film over a certain thickness.

Do you want your document to last a long time?
Different types of lamination film will allow your documents to last longer. If the life span of your laminated document is not an issue, a less expensive film can be used. If a document needs to last a long time you may want to use a thicker, acid-free and/or UV lamination film.

What will you be laminating?
Some laminators work better with different products. Some pouch laminators work better with photographs. Some laminators cannot work with anything thicker than standard paper, whereas other machines can laminate products up to 1/2 inches thick. Posters, in most cases, will have to be protected by a roll laminator.

Is space/mobility an issue?
Some laminators are bigger and take up more space. Pouch laminators, in most cases, are easy to pick up and move around. Roll laminators usually take up more space and are harder to move, but carts are available, which make moving it around from room to room much easier.

Laminator Index | Back to Top

What are the different types of lamination/film?

Pouch Laminators
Pouch laminators are the most poplar type on the market. The ease of use and mobility make them a best seller.

Pouch laminators come in different shapes and sizes. The most common sizes are usually 4 inches and 12 inches.

Pouch laminators use a lamination pouch that is usually sealed on one side. The inside of the lamination pouch is coated with a heat-activated film that sticks to the product being laminated as it runs through the machine.

Different types of laminators have different amounts of rollers. Lamination film, as it enters the machine, passes through the rollers which help evenly distribute heat and help keep it pressed shut during the process. Less expensive laminators usually have two rollers while more expensive/professional models have four. Photo-quality laminators can have up to six rollers.

Rollers help evenly distribute heat to provide a smoother, more professional look. Products being laminated on a machine with only two rollers may take two passes to be completed properly. Four roll laminators will complete a product on the first pass and provide a more professional, wave/defect free finish.



Pouch Laminator Index | Back to Top

Pouch Laminator Film
"You will want to know what your application will be before choosing a lamination film."

There are several different types of film. You will want to know what your application will be before choosing a lamination film.
  • Standard Clear Film - Standard Clear Film is the most common form of film used for lamination. Standard Film is imported from overseas, which is why the cost of standard clear film is usually less than the U.S.-made Select Film. The quality in the past was poorer than Select Film, but is now about the same.
  • Select Film - Select Film is U.S.-made lamination film. Usually considered the best quality, Select Film costs more than the Standard Clear Film.
  • Matte Film - Matte pouches have a slightly granular, frosted texture to reduce glare. Due to their texture, these pouches will accept pencil, pen, marker, and reduce smudging. Excellent for both indoor and outdoor applications.
  • Pressure-Sensitive Pouch - Pressure-Sensitive Pouches have a sticky backing. After a Pressure Sensitive Pouch has been passed through a laminator, the back can be pealed off and stuck to surface.
  • UV/UL Pouches - UV/UL Pouches are usually used for outdoor lamination. The UV/UL Pouches are able to filter out harmful UV/UL rays from the sun, which cause fading.
Some laminators can only use lamination film up to a certain thickness. The thickness of a lamination pouch is known as the mil thickness (thousandths of an inch).

Pouch lamination can be purchased in five mil, seven mil or ten mil. five mil is very pliable, where the 10 mil is very tough and rigid.

Be sure to place lamination film in a carrier before putting it through a laminator. The carrier looks like poster board, but is glossy on the inside. The carrier prevents excess lamination glue from getting on your rollers.

Pouch Lamination Film | Back to Top

Roll Laminators

Roll lamination film is commonly seen in schools and print shops. Roll lamination is great for high volume projects and large documents or posters.

Roll laminators use two large rolls of film. The lamination film looks very similar to a large roll of Saran Wrap. One roll of lamination film is usually mounted on the machine above a second one. The top roll laminates the top side of the document, while the other covers the bottom side of the document. After a document has been laminated, scissors are usually needed to cut it from the machine. The film used in the roll laminator has a heat-activated glue on one side of it that sticks to the document while being run through the machine.

You have to be careful when loading new film into a roll laminator. Putting film in backwards can result in coating parts of the laminator with hot, sticky adhesive. Never use a sharp object as a tool to help load new film into a laminator as the sharp object may cause irreversible damage to Teflon-coated parts, which are costly to replace.

Roll Laminator Index | Back to Top

Roll Laminator Film

There are several different types of roll lamination film. You will want to know what your application will be before choosing a lamination film.
  • Clear Film - An everyday film that will adhere to most ink lay downs. Clear is popular with schools and copy shops because it works great on a variety of substances. Clear gives your document a glass-like appearance. Temperature range: 210 - 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Matte Film - Matte is a high-quality film that has a glare-free finish. Matte has a slightly granular texture that is frosted to reduce glare. Matte will work with pencil, pen, and marker. Temperature range: 210 - 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • UV Roll Film - UV is clear with the added benefits of UV protection. Prints last up to five times longer when UV is used to laminate them. Temperature range: 185 - 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
These are some of the most common types of film. There are many other types of film that can be used with roll laminators. All lamination film we sell can be found at this link.

Roll film comes in different mil thicknesses (thousandths of an inch). The thickness is usually available in 1.5 mil, three mil, five mil and ten mil. Some roll laminators are restricted as to how thick a film they can use. Make sure you are using film that will work with your laminator.

Different laminators use film with different core thicknesses. The core is the hole that runs through the lamination film. Most laminators, 12 to 27 inches, use a one inch core. Roll laminators, 40+ inches, use anywhere from a 2 1/4-inch core up to a three inch core. Your laminator manual should show you what size core you need to use.



Roll Laminator Index | Roll Lamination Film | Back to Top

Cold Pouch Lamiantors

Cold roll and pouch laminators do not use heat to protect documents. The cold roll/pouch lamination film is pressure-sensitive, which means it has a sticky side, which adhears to the product when brought into contact.

Cold lamination is good for use with products that can be damaged by heat. One example of this would be wax-based ink that can be melted by heat.

Cold Pouch Laminator Index | Back to Top

Glossary

Carrier - Lamination pouches are placed in a carrier. The carrier looks like poster board, but is glossy on the inside. The carrier prevents excess lamination glue from getting on your rollers.

Clear Roll Film - An everyday film that will adhere to most ink lay downs. Clear is popular with schools and copy shops because it works great on a variety of substances. Clear gives your document a glass-like appearance. Temperature range: 210 - 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold Lamination - Cold lamination film is done by using pouches with a sticky inside that applies to the product being laminated.

Core Thickness - Most laminators, 12 to 27 inches, use lamination with a one inch core. The core is the hole that runs through the lamination film. Roll laminators, 40+ inches, use anywhere from a 2 1/4-inch core up to a three inch core. Your laminator manual should show you what size core you need to use.

Dry mounting - A thermal process, which uses a heat-activated adhesive (dry mount tissue) to adhere the back of an image to foam board, mount board or another paper-surface mounting substrate. It may be done with a press or with some types of laminators. It has often been used by framers in the art and photo markets.

Hot Lamination - Lamination is done with heat. Heat activates the lamination film causing it to attach to the product being laminated.

Matte Film - Matte pouches have a slightly granular, frosted texture to reduce glare. Due to their texture, these pouches will accept pencil, pen, marker, and reduce smudging. Excellent for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Mil Thickness - The thickness of lamination film is known as the mil thickness (thousandths of an inch).

Polyester - The base or outer protective layer of most thermal laminating film. It does not melt during the thermal laminating process. It is also the base layer of many PSA films.

Polyethylene - The adhesive almost always used in thermal films. During hot lamination it liquefies. The lamination takes place in the nip. Fans or chill rollers in the laminator then help cool the adhesive so it becomes a flexible solid again.

Pressure Sensitive - Lamination film that has at least one side that is sticky. The sticky side will attach to the product being laminated. Pressure-sensitive pouches have a stick back which allows them to be used as stickers.

Pressure Sensitive Pouch - Pressure-Sensitive Pouches have a sticky backing. After a Pressure-Sensitive Pouch has been passed through a laminator, the back can be pealed off and stuck to a surface.

Select Pouch Film - Select Film is U.S.-made lamination film. Usually considered the best quality, Select Film costs more than the Standard Clear Film.

Standard Clear Pouch Film - Standard Clear Film is the most common form of film used for lamination. Standard Film is imported from overseas, which is why the cost of standard clear film is usually less than the U.S.-made Select Film. The quality in the past was poorer than Select Film, but is now about the same.

UV/UL Pouches - UV/UL Pouches are usually used for outdoor lamination. The UV/UL Pouches are able to filter out harmful UV/UL rays from the sun, which cause fading.

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