Posts Tagged ‘Laminating Film’

Is Thermal Lamination Film Universally Accepted By All Hot Laminators?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

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.

What is Laminating Film Made out Of? Lamination Composition

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Roll Laminating FilmWhen shopping around for laminating pouches (found here) or rolls of laminating film (found here), have you ever wondered what the film itself is made out of? Plastic…right? While laminating film is made out of certain types of plastic, it is usually a combination of several types. This article will go into great detail regarding the composition of laminating film.

The first thing you need to be aware of, when shopping for laminating film, is that a sheet of laminating film is composed of various layers of plastic. The harder layer is on the outside and the softer layer is on the inside. Combined, these layers make up the mil thickness, with a mil being a thousandth of an inch (0.001″). Outside the United States, laminating film is measured in microns rather than mils. A micron is a thousandth of a millimeter (0.001 millimeters).

Pouch Laminating FilmHave you ever shopped around for a laminating pouch (or roll) and saw 4/3 on the outside of the box, or perhaps 3/2 on the outside of the box? These are numbers displaying the ratio of hard to soft plastic used in the laminating sheet. A 4/3 would be 4 mils of hard plastic and 3 mils of soft plastic (glue), totaling 7-mils. A 3/2 pouch is a 5 mil thick pouch. This ratio can change depending on the amount of hard and soft plastic used, however, the ratio will always add up to the total “mil” thickness of the sheet of film.

So what kind of plastic is used in laminating film? While this isn’t always going to be the case, the harder outer layer is usually made from PET plastic (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and the softer inner layer is made out of EVA plastic (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate). Occasionally a combination of PET plastic, PE (Polyethylene Plastic) and EVA plastic are all used together.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – This type of plastic is commonly used in food, beverage and other plastic containers. It is also used for producing synthetic fibers used in clothing. It is a resin of the polyester family. It can be easily formed into various shapes, and in the case of laminating film, it is formed into a thin sheet. The funny thing is that PET plastic doesn’t actually contain Polyethylene, which is why PET is sometimes simply called Ethylene Teerephthalate. In the case of laminating film, the PET is clear. It was especially popular in the 70’s for the production of polyester clothing.

Roll Laminating FilmEVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate) – This type of plastic is condiered to be extremely durable, stress resistant and is commonly used as a hot-melt adhesive. Have you ever used a glue gun? Glue sticks are made out of EVA plastic, the same material that lines the inside of a laminating sheet. EVA is also used in materials such as plastic wraps due to its “clingy” properties. EVA plastic is also used in expanded rubber or foam rubber for padding in ski boots, fishing reel handles and more.

PE Plastic (Polyethylene) – This is by far the most common plastic used today and is commonly used for bags, packaging and more. This isn’t as common in laminating film, although some may contain PE plastic.

I hope this helps you out. While this may not influence or change your mind on the type of laminating film you purchase, I still think it is helpful and educational to know what laminating film is made out of. Hopefully this will help you better understand how laminating film works and exactly what it is.

You can find our entire selection of pouch laminating film here and roll laminating film here. As far as machines go, you can find our pouch laminators here and roll laminators here.

If you still want to learn more, or need help finding the right film for your laminator, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-658-8788. Have a great day!

Is Laminating / Lamination Film Waterproof?

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Pouch LaminatorIf you are laminating a sign or a banner, there is a chance you may want to use it outside. If it is outside, there is a chance it could be affected by rainwater, snow, sprinklers and other elements. A question I frequently get from customers shopping around for a laminator or for laminating film is, “Is laminating film waterproof?” This is a great question. This is my answer.

To begin with, there are two primary forms of lamination. One is pouch lamination, which is done using a pouch laminator. The other is roll lamination, which is done by a roll laminator. While both formats produce results that are very similar, the method is slightly different.

Pouch laminators use laminating pouches, which look very similar to a folder. Products are placed inside and they are run through the laminator. Heat, rollers and pressure is used to melt the thermally-activated glue, finishing the lamination process.

Roll Laminating FilmRoll laminators use two separate rolls of film. One roll is for the top and the other is for the bottom. As a sign or banner is run through the laminator, a layer of thermally activated glue is applied to the top and bottom.

Pouch laminators are typically used for smaller items, up to about a legal-size sheet of paper. Roll laminators are used for mass laminating and for laminating larger signs and banners.

Laminating film is waterproof as long as there is a sealed barrier around the sign or banner. This barrier prevents water from seeping in and damaging the paper, photo or sign. If for any reason you use scissors and cut into the film and into the laminated paper, water can now soak in from the edge.

Laminating film will, however, deteriorate over time as hot sun begins to break down the glue. This process usually takes months of direct harsh exposure to the elements. If the laminated item sits under an eve or isn’t in direct sunlight, it could potentially last years.

The sun can also cause colors to bleach over time. For this reason UV film was created. While it is a bit more expensive, UV film can help filter out bleaching sunrays and dramatically enhance and preserve color.

You can find our entire selection of laminating pouches / film here and our entire selection of roll lamination film here. We also offer a great selection of laminating machines here.

Please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions about laminators or film.

5 Mil Laminating Sheets – Great Prices & Sizes

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Pouch Laminating SheetsIf you were to ask me today which thickness of pouch laminating sheets is most popular, I would have to answer with the 5 mil laminating sheet. With so many different sizes available, why is it that this particular thickness is so popular? I’ll cover a few reasons why 5 mil laminating sheets may be what you want to use with your pouch laminator.

To begin with, laminating sheets are commonly available in four different thicknesses. These are 3 mil, 5 mil, 7 mil and 10 mil. On occasion, you may be able to find a 1.5 or a 15 mil laminating pouch, however, they are pretty rare and most people don’t want them.

So what does the term “mil” mean? It is a thousandth of an inch. A 5-mil pouch is 0.005 inches thick (one side). Both sides of a 5-mil pouch add up to 10 mils thick (0.010″). The smaller the mil thickness, the thinner the pouch. For this reason, 3 mil and 10 mil pouches are the least common sizes used by customers. There are two reasons for this.

Three mil laminating sheets aren’t quite as popular as 5 or 7 because many people think it is too thin, and 10 mils is too thick for many people’s taste. The 10-mil thickness also requires a laminator capable of handling that thickness.

Five-mil laminating pouches are popular simply because they provide enough stability along with a nice finished look, not to mention they cost less than 7 or 10-mil thicknesses. At ABC Office we offer 19 different laminating sheet sizes in a 5-mil thickness. They are as follows:

Clear Glossy 5 Mil Laminating Sheets (Standard Sizes)

  • Business Card     —      (2 1/4″ x 3 3/4″)
  • Credit Card     —    (2 1/8″ x 3 3/8″)
  • Driver’s License     —      (2 3/8″ x 3 5/8″)
  • IBM     —     (2 5/16″ x 3 1/4″)
  • Key Card      —    (2 1/2″ x 3 7/8″)
  • Military     —    (2 5/8″ x 3 7/8″)
  • School Card     —     (2 1/2″ x 3 5/8″)
  • Jumbo     —     (2 15/16″ x 4 1/8″)
  • Luggage Tag (w/o Slot)     —     (2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″)
  • Luggage Tag (w/ Slot)     —     (2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″)
  • Index (File Card)    —      (3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″)
  • Circulation Card     —    (3 15/16″ x 5 11/16″)
  • Postal Card     —     (3 9/16″ x 5 5/16″)
  • Extra Circulation Card     —     (3 15/16″ x 6 7/8″)
  • 4″ x 6″     —    (4″ x 6″)

Clear Glossy 5 Mil Laminating Sheets (Large Sizes)

  • 6″ x 9″ Laminating Sheets
  • 9″ x 11 ½” Laminating Sheets
  • 9″ x 14 ½” Laminating Sheets
  • 12″ x 18″ Laminating Sheets

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there for 5 mil laminating sheets. Because we buy direct from the source, we are able to offer some of the best prices available online for 5 mil laminating sheets.

You can find our entire selection of laminating sheets here. Please feel free to contact one of our laminating experts at 1-800-658-8788 with answer to any questions you may have about pouch laminators or laminating sheets.

Common Reasons for Pouch Laminator Jams

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Cut Down on Pouch Laminator JamsA pouch laminator jam is no fun. The causes and reasons for laminator jams vary a lot. Some are basic enough that you can clear them out manually, where others are so bad that they require the machine to be completely disassembled. There are a few things you can do to help cut down on or completely eliminate laminator jams.

I personally have well over a decade of experience using pouch laminators from GBC, Akiles, Tamerica, Fellowes and many other brands. Each of these brands manufacture machines that are very similar in functionality. These tips should help you prevent laminating jams regardless of the make or model.

Laminator Jam Prevention Tips

Carriers – Most pouch laminators still require the use of a carrier to provide support to laminating film as it runs its course. I personally like to still use carriers, even when the laminators say they are carrier free (unless the laminator specifically says no carriers). If you don’t use a carrier, the laminating film could potentially wrap itself around the internal silicon rollers and create a jam.

Widths – Be careful that the item you laminate fits within the maximum dimensions of your laminator. Many people (let’s use a 12″ laminator as an example) will try to laminate a 12″ wide piece of paper in a 12″ laminator. This isn’t a good idea as there is absolutely no room for error. When laminating something edge to edge in a laminating machine, the chances of a jam are almost guaranteed.

Angles – Make sure you feed your material into the pouch laminator straight and true. If there is any angle, that angle will become progressively worse as the material is pulled inside, ultimately resulting in a jam.

Reverse Button – I love reverse buttons on pouch laminators. If your material is starting to go in at an angle, or even if a jam has already begun, a reverse option makes it extremely easy to clear out material. I can vouch from personal experience that a reverse button will save you some serious headaches.

Motor Speeds – While not always an option, an adjustable motor speed can help when feeding material into a laminator. This is probably the least important feature in my list, but it is still a nice convenience should you find a machine with this feature.

If for any reason you need a new pouch laminator, you can find our entire selection of new pouch laminating machines here.

Laminating Film is Cloudy! What Can I Do?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Laminating Pouches & Film / TroubleshootingHave you ever run a picture or an important document through a pouch laminator only to have it come out with cloudy splotches all over it? It can be pretty frustrating, especially if it is something you really care about. So is there anything that you can do to fix the cloudy splotches? Here are a few tips.

You may have noticed, when you first place a document in a laminating pouch, that the film is translucent. That is because the glue, which lines the inside of the pouch, hasn’t been melted. Once melted, the glue becomes clear and stays that way. If the glue isn’t properly melted, some of that translucent cloudiness remains.

I would say 9 times out of 10, when cloudy splotches and spots appear, the laminator being used is running too cool. Some areas of the film melt and laminate properly, but the rest remains in an “unlaminated” state.

There are two things you can do to fix this problem. The first thing you can do is run your pouch through the laminator again and hope that a couple of passes will properly laminate the film. Your second option is to increase the heat of the laminator and run the pouch through. This should eliminate the cloudy spots.

If you are still noticing cloudy spots, even after adjusting the temperature or re-running the pouches through the laminator, your film may be too old or the laminator may be defective. If the film is too old, you’re probably out of luck and will need to buy new film. Unfortunately, the item you are laminating may be irreparably cloudy. I would certainly try at least running the pouch through another laminator before deeming the project a failure.

Some lower-end pouch laminators may require that you run the laminator through multiple times, every time. This is often the result of the laminator only having 2 rollers, which sometimes results in uneven heat distribution, or the laminator may simply have a week heating element.

For clean and clear results every time, I highly recommend using a laminator with 4 rollers or more. The more rollers used, the more evenly heat is distributed, which in turn produces great results.

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

Good luck!

Hot or Cold Laminating Machine?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Pouch Laminators / Laminating MachinesIf you are shopping around for a laminator, you may have noticed that there are two primary methods used for laminating documents and pictures. These two methods are cold and hold lamination. Both laminating techniques have their benefits, but which style of laminator should you use?

Both hot and cold laminating is still commonly used today, however, hot thermal laminating is by far the most popular. Each of these laminating styles has unique features that make them ideal for certain laminating jobs. I’ll explain the differences between the two.

Cold Laminating – Cold laminating is often referred to as pressure laminating. That is because cold laminating film has a tacky adhesive on one side that sticks to documents when pressure is applied, much like scotch tape. This laminating method is popular for making stickers (Xyron), arts & crafts and for laminating temperature sensitive documents.

Hot Laminating – Hot laminating, often called thermal laminating, is very common. This laminating method uses laminating rolls or pouches that are coated on one side with thermally activated glue. Once heat is applied, the glue melts, much like a hot glue gun. Heat, along with pressure, coats the laminating film to documents, pictures and more. This laminating style is extremely common for laminating photos, signs, posters, banners, business cards, restaurant menus and much more.

Multi-Format Laminating – Some pouch and roll laminators are capable of being used with hot or cold laminating film. Most of these laminators are designed for hot lamination by default, but offer the option of turning off the heat for cold lamination.

If I had to pick between the two formats, I would personally go with a hot laminator. This is mostly because hot laminated documents tend to last longer and the film is generally less expensive. Both laminating styles produce professional results.

You can find our entire selection of laminating machines here.

10 Mil Laminating Pouches & Film Explained

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

10 Mil Thick Laminating Pouches & FilmDo you have a pouch laminator and want to be able to use the coveted 10-mil thick pouch? There are a few things you may not know about 10 mil thick pouches. I will explain in great detail everything you need to know about 10-mil thick film in this article.

In case you are unfamiliar with the term “mil,” a mil is one thousandth of an inch. That means that a 10 mil pouch is 10 thousandths of an inch or 0.010″ thick.

A bit of trivia: A 10-mil pouch isn’t actually 10 mils thick. It is in fact 20 mils thick. This is because pouch thickness measurements only take into account one side of the pouch. That means both flaps together equal 20 mils.

All said and done, counting the paper / material inside the pouch, a 10 mil pouch is closer to 30 mils thick laminated. A credit card is 30 mils thick. I can tell you from personal experience that a laminated 10-mil pouch is extremely rigid.

Ten mil thick pouches are not the most common thickness used with laminators. The 5-mil thickness is actually the most common thickness purchased today. This is due in part to the fact that 5 mil pouches are almost universally accepted by pouch laminating machines.

Not all pouch laminators can handle a 10 mil thick pouch. Before you purchase film, be sure your laminator can handle a 10-mil thick pouch.

At ABC Office we offer a huge selection of 10 mil thick laminating pouches and film. This includes credit card, IBM card, business card, luggage tag, letter size and many other pouch sizes. You can find our entire selection of 10 mil thick laminating film here.

You can find our entire selection of pouch laminators here. Our laminators, under the specifications, will indicate the thickness of laminating film they can handle.

Does Laminating Film Expire? (Lamination Shelf Life)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Laminating / Lamination Rolls & FilmI had a customer ask me a while back how long laminating pouches and lamination rolls lasted before they stopped working. I honestly didn’t know a definitive answer at the time. I just sent this question over to TJ with Banner American and he provided me with a detailed answer to this question, “Does Laminating Film Expire?” This is his answer.

Does Laminating Film Expire? Answered by TJ McCarthy with Banner American:

Thermal laminating films are made by coating a film such as polyester, polypropylene, nylon, etc.. with a thermal polymer based plastic adhesive.  During the extrusion coating process the adhesive is treated to increase its surface energy to a specific level which enhances the adhesives’ ability to wet-out as it is laminated onto the print which improves the ability to the adhesive to stick to the item being laminated.

The measurement of the surface energy is called dyne level.  Banner American’s premium HMR grade laminating films for traditionally printed output are treated to a range of 44-52 dynes. Digikote laminates for inkjet prints are treated to a range of 52-54 dynes.  BANLAM DLF laminates for fuser oil based color copier output are treated to a range of 52-56 dynes.  Digikote and BANLAM DLF films have a higher dyne levels because inkjet and fuser oil based prints are much more difficult to adhere to than traditionally printed output. Over time the dyne treatment slowly decays and as the dyne level drops the adhesive loses some of its adhesion.

The industry standard recommended shelf life for all types of thermal laminating films is 1 year.  This does not mean that film older than 1 year is no good it only means the film’s adhesion level has dropped below its ideal level and therefore the manufacturer no longer stands behind its performance.  It really depends on what is being laminated.

Banner American Roll LaminatorOld film probably won’t adhere to inkjet or fuser oil based output because they are the most difficult types of output to stick to.  Most traditionally printed output is much easier to stick to so old film may work fine on it for several years.  I still use Glenroy pouches, which are at least 8 years old, and they work fine on my black & white laser printer output, newspaper articles and even traditional photographs.

Recommended shelf life for cold pressure sensitive laminating films and mounting adhesives vary by manufacturer and product and range from 6 months to 5 years and are always based upon storage in ideal conditions.  Banner American’s cold laminating and mounting films have a maximum shelf life of 3 years under ideal storage conditions – 60 to 80° F; 40 – 65% relative humidity.

BANTAC Exhibit 5 has only a 1 year maximum shelf life under ideal storage conditions – 60 to 80° F; 40 – 65% relative humidity.  Exceeding shelf life on cold films can cause the adhesive to dry out which can result in bond failure and release liner removal difficulty.  Also, PVC (vinyl) films lose plasticizers over time, which can cause the film to shrink and lose flexibility.

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So there you have it! That is a great answer to a very common question. You can find our entire selection of Banner American laminators here and our entire selection of laminating film here.

Carrier-Free Laminators – Do They Work?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Carrier-Free Pouch LaminatorsAbout 60% of pouch laminators today require the use of what’s known as a carrier. A carrier is a type of folder that holds laminating pouches as they run through a laminator. The general purpose of the carrier is to provide support to the pouch, preventing jams, and to prevent gumming glue from contaminating the laminator. Many laminators today, however, claim to be carrier free.

I have found, from personal experience, that it is still a good idea to use a carrier, even if the manufacturer says you don’t need one. This is more from a maintenance perspective. A carrier will still keep glue from squeezing out the edges of a laminating pouch and gumming up the rubber rollers.

If you own a carrier-free laminator, I would recommend laminating something with and without the carrier. If the results look the same either way, use a carrier. If the results look better without the carrier, then you may want to consider ditching the carrier. I know with some of our Intelli-Lam laminators, results actually look better without a carrier. This typically is not the case.

Laminating pouches, at least the ones we sell, come with a carrier in the box. This puts the carrier life at about 100 pouches. Once a box of laminating pouches is empty, the old carrier can be discarded or you can hold onto it if it is still in good condition. The new box will have another carrier with it.

If you have a non “carrier-free” laminator, ALWAYS use a carrier. Don’t even chance it or you’ll end up with a costly mess.

You can find our entire selection of pouch laminators here and pouch laminating film here. Good luck and happy laminating!

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