Can You Mix the Mil Thickness of Roll Laminating Film?

Roll Laminating FilmI recently had a customer, who was using a roll laminator, ask if they could mix the mil thickness of their film rolls (find our film here). They wanted to use a 1.5 mil thickness film on the back and a 3 mil on the front. He wanted to know if it could be done and if I had any advice on how to get it to work properly. This isn’t the firs time I’ve gotten a question like this. I have a little advice I’d like to share about mixed mil thicknesses and how to get the results you want

The above-mentioned customer wanted a thicker film on the front that would be exposed for added protection. He still wanted film on the back of the sign, but wanted to save money by using a thinner film. This is a fairly common reason for mixing film. The thinner film comes in longer rolls and costs less per square foot. Some people only laminate one side all together to save money.

Before you jump on board with mixing laminating film thicknesses, keep in mind that there is a little work involved in getting things properly set up. If you don’t want to mess around with a trial and error process, you are probably better off keeping the mil thickness the same on the top and bottom. If you want to try mixing film, whether it is for a certain look or to simply save money, here are my personal recommendations.

  • Roll LaminatorsCore Size – While you may be mixing the mill thickness of your laminating rolls, you cannot mix the core size of the film. If you’re laminator has 1″ mandrels, only use film with a 1″ diameter core.
  • Mandrel Tension – Because you are using film of different thicknesses, you will need to adjust the tension on the mandrels accordingly. Failure to adjust the tension can result in curled film. You want your film to come out of the roll laminator flat and flush. If the film is curing up, you may need to relieve tension on the top mandrel or increase tension on the bottom mandrel. This will involve a little trial and error work on your part.
  • Temperature Settings – Different film thicknesses (and brands) require different temperature settings. Thicker film often requires less temperature because it retains the heat longer. If you are using a 1.5 and a 3 mil film, you will have to play around with the temperature settings until you find that “sweet spot.” Most glossy laminating film has a melting temperature between 260 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I recommend starting low and working your way up. If the film is cloudy, you will need to turn up the temperature.

Once you have figured out what your laminator likes, I recommend jotting the settings down on paper so you can get things up and running in just minutes after the next roll change. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions.

You can find our entire selection of roll laminating film here and roll laminators here.

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