Is Thermal Lamination Film Universally Accepted By All Hot Laminators?

Pouch LaminatorsI recently had a customer ask me if you had to use the laminating film indicated in the laminator’s manual. The manual indicated brand, size, thickness and a few other things. Most manufacturers want you to use their laminating film. GBC is a prime example of this. What many people don’t realize is that most laminating film (found here), regardless of brand, will work in your machine. There are just a few numbers you will need to be aware of before placing an order.

So why do manufacturers want you to use “their” film? It’s all about money. It’s kind of like my Volkswagen’s owner’s manual, which indicates I should have my car’s oil changed by an authorized Volkswagen technician. In reality, just about anyone can change the oil on my car. So now that we have established that you can use other brands of film with your laminator, what else should you look out for?

First off, ensure that the film you are buying is thermal (hot) laminating film and that your laminator is a thermal (hot) laminator. Pressure sensitive film, aka cold laminating film, is not universally accepted in all laminators.

There are a few numbers that you will need to look up when shopping around for laminating film. The first is the mil thickness. A mil is a thousandth of an inch (1 mil = 0.001″). Laminating film usually comes in 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses. Most pouch and roll laminators can use 1.5, 3 and 5-mil film. The 7 and 10 are a little to thick for some laminators, so be sure your laminator specifically says it can use 7 or 10 mil film before purchasing it.

Roll LaminatorsIf you are using a roll laminator, be sure that the core diameter size of the film that you are buying fits the diameter of mandrel your laminator uses. The core of the film slides over the laminator’s mandrel. Most 8″ to 27″ wide roll laminators use a 1″ diameter core size. Larger wide format laminators use a 2 ¼” up to a 3″ diameter core size.

If you are using a roll laminator, ensure the roll width is the right size for your laminator. A 27″ roll laminator can typically use any laminator width up to 27″. This means you can typically use smaller width rolls as well.

If you are using a pouch laminator, I recommend using a pouch that is ¼” to ½” smaller than the laminator’s maximum width. If your pouch laminator is 12″ wide, and you use a 12″ wide pouch, the likeness of a crooked misfeed is high and can result in a jam. Cutting that width down by up to ½” allows a little room for error.

You can find our entire selection of pouch lamination film here and roll lamination film here. I understand that this may be a little confusing, so please don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Laminator Specialists at 1-800-658-8788 for answers to your questions. We have been in business since 1980 and know a lot about laminators. We can help match up the correct supplies for your machine.

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