Posts Tagged ‘Pouch Laminators’

The PL12A Pouch Laminator’s Replacement

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

PL12A Pouch LaminatorPouch laminators are remarkable machines, making it possible for businesses, homes, schools and others to affordably laminate products. The PL12A (formerly made by Banner American & Laminators Specialties) used to be the pinnacle of pouch laminators. It was considered to be the best out there. Unfortunately the PL12A has been discontinued and it now looks like it will not be coming back. So what does this mean for those of you in the market for a pouch laminator or who need a replacement for a worn out PL12A? I have the perfect replacement for you.

Unfortunately the PL12A is not coming back. That’s right. Neither is the smaller PL4A. This is sad for me because I have been selling and promoting this laminator for well over a decade. It just worked really well. The company, Laminators Specialties, recently closed up shop. Another company is in the process of acquiring their roll laminators (thankfully), but it looks like the pouch laminators aren’t going to be part of that acquisition.

Akiles ProLam Plus 330 Pouch LaminatorLuckily there are a lot of good pouch laminators out there, many of which I have had the chance to personally use. One of the best replacements is the Akiles ProLam Plus 330 (found here). This laminator has also been around for a long time and it currently has all of the features many people came to love in the PL12A. This includes such features as:

  • 10 Mil Laminating Thickness – The thickest standard laminating pouch on the market is the 10 mil thickness. This laminator will easily handle it as well as smaller thicknesses.
  • Adjustable Temperature Control – Rather than having a basic high and low setting, this laminator has an adjustable dial that allows for several different temperature adjustments to accommodate a variety of types of film.
  • Independent Motor / Heat Control – This is a personal favorite. Many laminators require that the motor and the heat be on at the same time via a single switch. This laminator, along with the discontinued PL12A, allows you to leave the heat on without running the motor. This significantly saves on the lifespan of the motor.
  • Four Roller Design – A four-roller design allows for the appropriate amount of heat and pressure distribution during the lamination process. This helps improve clarity and removes artifacts such as waves, ripples, bubbles and cloudiness.

It also includes a few features the PL12A didn’t have such as:

  • Dual Heat System – This makes the ProLam Plus 330 more efficient by providing heated rollers and a heat plate. This more efficient distribution of heat allows for crystal clear results and allows lamination at lower temperatures.
  • Reverse Switch – One of my biggest complaints with the PL12A was the lack of a reverse witch. The ProLam Plus 330 has that, allowing you to back a pouch out if it is fed in crooked.
  • 13” Laminating Width – Having a little extra room to work with makes it easier to laminate 11” x 17” and 12” x 18” pouches.
  • Photo Ready – While the PL12A did a decent job of laminating photos, the use of heated rollers in the ProLam Plus 330 allows for even better results when laminating photos and ink-jet printouts.

We have been recommending the Akiles ProLam Plus 330 as THE alternative to the PL12A and our customers for several months now and they have been very happy with the switch. Having used both, I can comfortably say that you will be very happy with the results and will notice no difference in quality or in functionality over the now discontinued PL12A.

We offer a lot of great pouch laminators. You can find the Akiles ProLam Plus 330 here and our entire selection of pouch laminators here. If you have questions about the PL12A or its replacement, or if you simply need some additional information, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-658-8788. We would love to help you out.

Roll Versus Pouch Laminators – Which to Use

Monday, August 5th, 2013

If you are looking for a reliable way to laminate material on a daily basis, you may be wondering which type of laminator to buy. While several different models exist today, thermal roll and pouch laminators (found here) continue to be the two most popular formats used. These laminators are used to laminate everything from business cards and signs to restaurant menus and banners. So which of these two laminator styles should you consider using?

There are two major things to consider when purchasing a pouch or roll laminator. You need to look at the volume of what you are laminating and the size of what you are laminating. Here is a brief description of how the two types of laminators work:

Pouch Laminators (found here) – Pouch laminators are tabletop units that use pouches of lamination film to laminate documents, literature and other material. These pouches open up much like a file folder, with one edge sealed shut. This can be the long or short side, but it is usually the short side. Once the pouch is opened, the item being laminated can be placed inside. This means there is a layer of lamination film on both the top and the bottom of the object.

Prior to being run through a laminator, the lamination pouch is typically placed in a protective carrier. This carrier is designed to take the lamination pouch through the machine. It provides added rigidity, preventing jams, and helps keep hot glue from squeezing out and getting on the rubber rollers inside the machine. Not all laminators require the laminating pouch to be put in a carrier prior to use. These laminators come in sizes typically ranging from 4” up to 13” wide.

Here is a video of a pouch laminator in use:

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Roll Laminators (found here) – Roll laminators don’t use laminating pouches, but rather lamination rolls. There is a top and a bottom roll, which work together to completely encapsulate the item being laminated. No carrier is required. Simply turn the laminator on, set the temperature, insert the item you are laminating and let the machine do the rest. The end results look great and are equally comparable to the results found in a pouch laminator. These types of laminators rang in sizes anywhere from 12” up to 65” in width.

Here is a video of a roll laminator in use:

Here are the biggest advantages between the two formats:

  • Pouch Laminators – These laminators are much more affordable than roll laminators, although the price of film (per square foot) is slightly higher. These laminators are also extremely portable and very easy to use.
  • Roll Laminators – These laminators are excellent for laminating larger items or several smaller items at the same time. Roll laminators are also extremely fast, making them ideal over pouch laminators for volume and speed.

Where are these laminators typically used? You will usually find pouch laminators in locations such as small businesses, homes, photography studios, schools and churches. You will find roll laminators in copy centers, print shops, schools and other locations where a lot of laminating is required on a daily basis.

So is one format better than the other? I would have to say no. It is really a situation where you really need the right tool for the job. Both formats have their place in business and both produce clean and clear professional results.

Both of these laminators share several features in common. They both use heat to melt glue found on the inside of the lamination film. Both also produce results that are very comparable with each other. These can both be used to laminate photos, cards, menus, business cards and much more.

Do you still have questions about pouch or roll laminators? Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-658-8788. We would love to help answer questions and have decades of experience to help point you in the right direction. You can find our entire selection of laminators here.

Can Any Laminator Be Used with Photos?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Akiles Pro-Lam Photo LaminatorI spoke with a customer a few days ago who wondered if any laminator could be used to laminate photos. They had apparently been doing research online and had come across a few photo forums where people were saying you simply couldn’t do it yourself and have the results come out right. It sounded to me like this person had come across a lot of vague and incorrect information. After speaking with the customer, I helped answer a few questions and pointed them in the right direction. I would like to help you, the reader, learn more about laminators (found here), photos and which models will get the job done right.

Laminating a photograph can be a stressful event. Regardless of whether the photo was created using a printer or produced in a lab, nobody wants to ruin the photo while laminating it. Some prints are one-of-a-kind items that can’t be reproduced. In order to understand why some laminators work and others don’t, I would like to cover the differences in laminators.

Speedy-Lam 330R-10 10 Roller LaminatorFirst off, the most popular laminator used with photos is the pouch laminator (found here). These laminators use pouches of film that open and close much like a file folder. You basically insert the item you need laminated inside the pouch, place it in a special carrier and run it through the laminator. While cold (pressure sensitive) pouch laminators do exist, thermal (aka hot) laminators are what the professionals use to laminate photos.

Pouch laminators are broken up into different categories, depending on the built-in features. The two most common categories you will find are mil thickness (how thick a film it can use) and the amount of rollers that are inside the machine. Let me start with the mil thickness.

The mil thickness is the actual thickness of the laminating pouch the laminator can handle. A mil is a thousandth of an inch, which is about 0.025mm. The higher the mil number, the thicker the pouch. Laminating pouches (found here) are broken up into 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses. Most people use a 5 mil pouch when laminating documents and photos. The 7 and 10 are usually only used with a lot of rigidity and stability are needed, perhaps for a sign. The 3 mil thickness is usually only found with larger pouches, such as those used with restaurant menus.

The roller number is the amount of rubber rollers used in the machine’s design. The minimum number you can have is two, one on the top and one on the bottom. These rollers are what help adhere the hot glue to the item being laminated. These rollers are sometimes heated. The more rollers you have, the better the results. I personally recommend you stay away from two-roller laminators all together as they are generally cheap. Four roller laminators are excellent for laminating paper and documents.

When it comes to laminating photos, especially on a regular basis, I recommend going with 6 rollers or more. This will allow the laminator to produce high-quality results. You won’t end up with artifacts such as bubbles, cloudiness, ripples and other flaws. I have seen photo laminators out there with six, eight and even 10 rollers. These rollers help apply pressure, deliver heat and remove head (towards the end of the process). Can you laminate a photo with a four-roller laminator? Sure, and I have seen good results, but I can’t guarantee that you will always have good results.

Here are a few good photo laminators:

Film quality can also be a factor when laminating a photo. Truth be told, the older the lamination film is, the poorer the results will be. I recommend you use film (for photo laminating) no older than a year, perhaps two. Most film manufactured today, even the cheap stuff, usually produces pretty good results.

My recommendation is that you test the laminator and film with a regular piece of paper prier to sacrificing a photograph. If the paper turns out well, you can then move up to testing a photo.

Do you still have questions about laminating photos? Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-658-8788 to speak with one of our experts. We also have a full-time Service Department that can help you find replacement parts for your roll or pouch laminators. You can find our entire selection of laminators here.

Ten Things to Look for in a School Laminator

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

School Roll LaminatorIf you’re a K-12 school, chances are you laminate a lot of stuff. Most schools use laminators for protecting, enhancing and improving maps, posters, signs, banners, flash cards and educational material. If you’re looking to expand or upgrade your laminating capabilities, this guide is for you. I would like to answer a few questions and point out a few features you should have in your school laminator (found here).

Before I go too much further with this guide, I would like to point out that there are two primary types of laminators. These are pouch and roll. Here is the definition of each:

  • Pouch Laminators (found here) – This is a laminator that uses “pouches” to laminate material. These pouches open up like a file folder, allowing you to insert your photo, card, letter, sign or other material. These pouches range in size from just a few inches to 12″ x 18″ in size. These types of laminators are ideal for laminating smaller items and the laminators themselves usually fit on any table or desk.
  • Roll Laminators (found here) – These laminators are designed for either laminating larger material, such as maps and posters, or for laminating multiple smaller items at the same time. Simply put, these laminators are designed to laminate more than a pouch laminator. These types of laminators can be used on a desk or table, but are also often put on a laminator card or workstation.

Here are ten features I recommend considering when purchasing a school laminator:

  1. Laminator Width – Laminators come in all sizes and shapes. Be sure you buy a laminator that accommodates the largest item you need laminated. The most common sizes schools use are 25″ and 27″ wide roll laminators (found here). That’s because these laminators handle posters, maps, signs and banners.
  2. Film Thickness – Lamination film is available in different thicknesses, referred to as the mil (a thousandth of an inch). The thinnest available is 1.5 mil for roll laminators and 3 mil for pouch laminators. The thickest common film available for all laminators is 10-mil. The most common film for schools is 3 mil, although 1.5 and 5 are also very popular. You can find our laminating pouches here and our lamination rolls here.
  3. Mounting Capabilities – Some teachers like to laminate a poster or sign onto ¼” foam core board. In the laminating industry, this is referred to as mounting. Many roll laminators come with the ability to mount material while laminating. The thickness tolerance varies, so be sure you know what the laminator can handle if mounting is a required feature.
  4. Speed – If you need to laminate a lot of stuff in a short period of time, you may want to take the laminator’s speed into account. Laminators all have a set maximum speed. Some have a variable speed. The speed is usually rated in feet per minute.
  5. Options – A few options you may want to consider in a laminator includes things such as side margin trimmers or a built in slitter for cutting off film after it leaves the laminator. These are purely optional, and many require factory installation, but are definitely something to be aware of prior to making a purchase.
  6. Adjustable Temperature – Most laminators will allow some sort of temperature adjustment. How much control you have, however, varies from one machine to another. Some simply have you select the mil thickness and the temperature is adjusted accordingly. Others offer a dial that allow you to specifically select a temperature. I personally like to have the ability to select a wide range of temperature settings as different types of lamination film require different temperatures.
  7. Analog or Digital – Laminators are now available with analog and digital controls. This means a dial or switch, versus a button or even a touch-capable control. This is often more aesthetic than critical in a laminator. Some laminators with digital controls, however, offer even more control over the laminator’s functions than analog controls.
  8. Brand – Do I have specific brands I like and recommend? You bet! I highly recommend laminators from Laminators Specialties (formerly Banner American), Ledco, Intelli-Lam, Tamerica and Ledco all make top-notch products.
  9. Switches – I’m not a big fan of the “one switch does all” design. I like to have different switches (or buttons) for different functions. I highly recommend you buy a laminator with independent heat and motor switches. By allowing the laminator to warm up, without the motor running, will help extend the life of your laminator.
  10. Cooling Fans – This isn’t a critical feature to have for a school laminator. Cooling fans help quickly cool the lamination film as it leaves the machine, which helps cut down on curling, warping and other lamination artifacts and defects.

I hope this guide helps you out. We have been selling laminators since 1980 and are well versed when it comes to laminators. We have years of information we would love to share with you, so please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions. Many schools also like to pay on terms using a Purchase Order. You’ll be happy to know that we accept school purchase orders. They can be faxed or e-mailed in to us.

You can find our entire selection of laminators here. Please feel free to post your comments and questions.

Akiles Pro-Lam Photo Pouch Laminator Review

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Akiles Pro-Lam Photo Pouch LaminatorLaminating photos is a delicate process and requires professional equipment if you want to ensure the job is done right every time. You don’t want to use just any off-the-shelf machine. Laminated photos look great, but when the process doesn’t work, a photo can be permanently destroyed. If you are a professional business, or need the utmost quality in your laminated photos, consider using the Akiles Pro-Lam Photo laminator (found here). This is my review.

There are several reasons why someone may want to laminate a photo. I have broken these down into two types of people:

  • Sentimental Preservation – Photographs can hold a lot of sentimental value, especially when it comes to memories. When dealing with older photos, rare photos and one-of-a-kind photos, you want to use the utmost care. One way many people like to protect and preserve a photo is by laminating it. You do not want ripples, bubbles or cloudiness in the film. The Akiles Pro-Lam Photo is an example of a laminator that can handle sentimental photos and laminate them correctly the first time.
  • Professional Presentation – If you are a photographer, or a business that needs quality laminated photos and signs, the Akiles Pro-Lam is also a great option. Many businesses use lamination for protection and to provide added support to signs, photos and other material. Lamination film has a way of enhancing and bringing out colors. The glossy finish also has a clean and fresh appearance.

There are a few reasons why the Akiles Pro-Lam Photo is so good at laminating photographs. It all starts with the design. To begin with, the Pro-Lam photo uses a 6-roller system. This consists of 4 heated rollers and two cold rollers. In most cases, the more rollers you have in a laminator the higher quality the results will be. Most department store laminators only have 2 rollers and most commercial business laminators have 4. More rollers ensure better heat distribution and better application of pressure.

Technology, along with a microprocessor, built into this laminator helps to regulate the temperature during the laminating process. This especially helps when laminating photographs. Because the temperature is so well regulated, bubbles and other artifacts in the final product are eliminated. This technology also ensures proper lamination regardless of the thickness of the film. The Pro-Lam Photo handles 3, 5, 7 and 10-mil film without a problem.

The Akiles Pro-Lam Photo isn’t just good for laminating photos. It can also be used for laminating standard paper, card stock, for mounting and even for use with some hot foiling. The wide 13″ laminating width handles a wide range of pouch sizes and material.

This laminator includes an auto memory function that will automatically remember the previous speed and temperature settings. This is ideal if you repeat the same job multiple times throughout the day or on a daily basis. When the laminator isn’t being used, it will go into standby mode, which is designed to save on energy as well as ensure a longer laminator lifespan.

A few additional features that make the Akiles Pro-Lam Photo a great option includes:

  • Jam Release Switch – This makes it easy to remove jams and misfeeds.
  • Cold Lamination Function – This allows the laminator to be used with cold lamination and pressure sensitive lamination film.
  • Silicon Rollers – These special rollers allow you to laminate products without or without the use of a carrier.
  • Overheating Protection – If for any reason the laminator gets too hot, it will automatically shut off to prevent a hazardous situation.
  • CE & TUV Certified

In conclusion, I can safely say that Akiles is one of the best manufacturers we work with. Their products, including their laminators and binding machines, are some of the best on the market. Their products are solid. If you do a lot of laminating, need a multi-roll laminator or need something for laminating photos, this is a great option. If you have additional questions about this laminator, please give us a call at 1-800-658-8788. You can find our entire selection of pouch laminators here.

If you have this laminator or have used it, please post your experience at the end of this article as a comment. Thanks for reading!

Business Card Laminating Pouches – 5, 7 & 10 Mils

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Business Card Laminating PouchesWhile many thought business cards would go the way of the dinosaur with the rise in popularity of electronic gadgets, they are still just as popular as ever. With so many types and styles of business cards out there, one great way to set your card apart is by laminating it. It just so happens that there is pouch-laminating film that is in the business card size. At ABC Office, we offer business card laminating pouches in 5, 7 and 10 mils thick (found here).

A business card laminating pouch measures in at 2 ¼” x 3 ¾”. While the standard business card is 2″ x 3 ½”, the laminating pouch is slightly bigger. This size difference allows ample room for the business card being laminated and provides a nice 1/8″ border around the entire card. This border can be removed with scissors or with a paper cutter, but most people like to have it. The border also keeps the business card waterproof.

As mentioned earlier, our business card size laminating pouches come in three different thicknesses. These are 5, 7 and 10 mils. A mil is a thousandth of an inch thick, which means 5 mils is 0.005″ thick. The higher the mil thickness, the thicker the pouch. Also be aware that the thickness mentioned is for just one side of the pouch. Pouches have two sides. This means a 5 mil pouch has 10 mils total thickness, a 7 mil pouch has 14 mils total thickness and a 10 mil pouch has 20 mils total thickness.

A credit card is about 30 mils thick, so laminating your business card with a 10 mil thick pouch makes it very thick. Most of our customers go with a 5-mil pouch, but it ultimately depends on the look and style you’re going for. Price also comes into play as the thicker the pouch the more money it will cost.

At ABC Office, we offer our business card laminating pouches 100 per box. Each box of film comes with a carrier. While not all laminators require them, many need the pouch to be placed in a carrier prior to insertion in the laminator. This gives the pouch added rigidity and helps to prevent jams. Our laminating pouches are compatible with most pouch laminators including those made by GBC, Tamerica, Intelli-Lam, Banner American, Laminators Specialties, Akiles and others. Just be sure the mil thickness of the pouch is compatible with the laminator you are using.

Because we are the source for many of our laminating pouches, we are able to provide you with a great low price. We even offer price discounts when you buy 5 boxes of film or more. If you have questions about our lamination film, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-658-8788.  You can find our entire selection of pouch lamination film here and pouch laminators here.

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.

Best Way to Clear out a Jammed Pouch Laminator

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Clear Pouch Laminator JamsPouch laminators (found here) are wonderful machines to have in the office or even at home. They can be used to protect, enhance and preserve a wide variety of documents. Many people like to laminate photographs, their business cards, menus, signs and more. So what do you do when things go south and your pouch laminator jams? Here are a few tips that may help you get your laminator back up and running.

I would like to break this article don into three categories. I would first like to cover why jams occur and what you can do to prevent them, how to fix a jam if one occurs and what not to do.  While these tips aren’t a guarantee, they should at lest help put you on the right track.

Why do laminating jams occur? The most common reason a laminator experiences a jam is a misfeed. This occurs when a pouch is fed into a laminator at an angle. As the laminating film continues its progression through the laminator, the incorrect angle worsens until the film is crashing into the side of a laminator. If the laminator is not stopped, this can result in permanent damage to the laminator’s gears or motor.

The second most common reason for a laminator jamming is the lack of using a carrier. Laminating pouches are floppy and have almost no rigidity until they are laminated. For this reason, carriers are typically used. Carriers look like manila folders. The lack of using a carrier can often result in the film wrapping under a roller, which can result in the pouch lodging itself in the laminator. While many laminators today claim they are carrierless, I still recommend using a carrier.

How can you fix your jammed laminator? If your laminating pouch is feeding in crooked, try flipping the reverse switch and backing it back out. This will allow you to re-position the pouch. Many laminators, especially those made by Fellowes, include a release lever that releases the laminator’s roller pressure. If your laminator isn’t equipped with a reverse button or a clamp release, turn off the motor and try gently tugging on the pouch. If it moves, try pulling it a little more until you have it released. If the pouch doesn’t move, don’t try forcing it. At this point you’re either going to have to remove the cover of the laminator you’re your going to have to call our Service Technician at 1-800-658-8788.

If the film is wrapped around the rollers inside your laminator (as a result of not using a carrier), you are going to have to remove the cover of your laminator. This will give you access to the inside of the laminator, making film wraparounds easy to remove. Be sure the laminator is unplugged and cool before attempting this. If the idea of using a screwdriver to remove your laminator’s cover is a bit intimidating, please don’t hesitate to call our Service Department at 1-800-658-8788.

Things you should never do. Never under any circumstances try forcing a stuck pouch out of the laminator. This can result in stripped gears and other broken parts. Also, never try using a knife or a pair of scissor to try and “fish out” a jammed pouch. This will often only result in damage to the delicate silicon rollers inside the machine.

If you need additional tips, or would simply like some advice, please call our Service Department at 1-800-658-8788. They are more than happy (and equipped) to help you fix your roll or pouch laminator. They can also provide you with replacement parts. If your laminator is at its end, consider one of our new pouch laminators found here.

Ten Things to Consider When Buying a Laminator

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Roll LaminatorsLaminators come in all shapes and sizes and isolating the model that will work best for you can be a challenge. The two most popular types of laminators used today are pouch laminators (found here) and roll laminators (found here). These are both commonly used in businesses for laminating a wide variety of documents. In order to purchase the right machine, you will want to ask yourself a few questions.

Here are 10 things you will want to consider before purchasing your laminator:

  1. What is your budget? While a budget shouldn’t hold you back from correct laminator you need, it will still play a role in narrowing down the field. I recommend speaking with a Customer Service Rep (800-658-8788) for help narrowing down the field once you know what you want. They are very good at working within your budget.
  2. What will you be laminating? What type of material are you laminating? If you are laminating something that is temperature sensitive, you may want to consider going with a cold laminator (found here) like those from Ledco or Xyron. If you are laminating photographs, consider a laminator with at least four rollers or more. The more rollers, the more professional the results.
  3. What is the largest size you will be laminating? Don’t just take into account what you are laminating now, but also what you will laminate later down the road. Remember, wider laminators (both pouch and roll) can be used with smaller laminating pouches or rolls. Also be aware that most pouch laminators max out around 14″ wide. If you need to laminate something wider than 14″ (perhaps a poster, banner or map), I recommend going with a roll laminator. They range in size anywhere from 12″ up to 70″ wide.
  4. How much will you be laminating? As a general rule, pouch laminators are ideal for small to medium volume laminating and roll laminators are good for medium to high-volume laminating. I consider laminating a few dozen to a few hundred items a day to be small to medium and a few hundred to a few thousand items a day to be medium to high volume.
  5. What thickness of film would you like to use? Laminating film (found here) is measured in mils, which is a thousandth of an inch (0.01″). The larger the mil thickness, the thicker the pouch or roll. Film usually comes in 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses. The most common used with pouch laminators is 5 mils and the most common used with roll laminators is 1.5 and 3 mils.
  6. Who will be using the laminator? While it is best for only an adult to use a laminator, pouch laminators are by far the safest for children to use under supervision. I do not recommend children using a roll laminator. There are far more exposed “hot” components in a roll laminator.
  7. Where will you be keeping your laminator? Space is always an issue and roll laminators take up far more space than pouch laminators.
  8. Will the laminated documents be used indoors or outdoors? This applies more to film than the laminators themselves. If you plan to use your laminated documents outside, be sure to use UV laminating film. UV film will filter out damaging UV rays that cause color prints to fade. If you don’t expect your laminated items to be outside more than a week or two, you may be fine with standard film.
  9. Do you need to mount pictures on foam core board? If you need to mount posters, maps and pictures to foam core board, you will probably need to use a roll laminator. Most roll laminators will specify if they can mount, and if they can, it will usually let you know what the maximum thickness is.
  10. Which brand is the best? There are a lot of great brands out there. As far as pouch laminators go, I have had great luck with Akiles, Banner American (now out of business), GBC and Tamerica. As far as roll laminators go, I have had great luck with Ledco, GBC, Banner American (now out of business) and Tamerica.

Hopefully these ten tips have helped you out. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to call one of our experts at 1-800-658-8788. You can also find our entire selection of laminators and film here.

Banner American Pouch and Roll Laminator Alternatives

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Banner American PL12a Pouch Laminator AlternativesIn case you haven’t heard, the iconic manufacturer of pouch and roll laminators, Banner American, recently went out of business. While you can still find a few of their laminators here and there (lingering stock), people are now wondering which laminators are good alternatives. Banner laminators were probably some of the best on the market. Luckily there are some great alternatives out there.

Banner American was easily one of my favorite laminator manufacturers. They made laminators like the PL12A, Pl4A, PL100, Easy Lam and many other laminators. Their products were mostly made in America and lasted literally for years. I remember us having a PL12A out on our showroom for 5+ years without issue. We used it to laminate samples, test pouches, shoot video demos, for demonstrations and more. I know of customers who had their PL laminators for over a decade.

I would like to produce a list of some Banner American laminators and their ideal alternatives. These pouch and roll laminators should perform on an equal level to the old Banner American laminators.

  • Banner American MightyLam-2700HC AlternativeBanner American PL4A Alternative – The best replacement for this laminator is the Akiles Pro-Lam 100 (found here). This laminator is still 4″ wide and is still perfect for quickly laminating ID badges.
  • Banner American PL12A Alternative – An ideal replacement for this laminator is the Akiles ProLam 320 (found here). This laminator is just ¼” wider than the PL12A and features a very similar build quality.
  • Banner American PL135 Alternative – A great 13″ wide alternative to this laminator is the Akiles iLam 340 (found here). This laminator accepts most pouches and is just as good.
  • Banner American PL135-4 Alternative – A good replacement to the PL135-4 is the Akiles ProLam Plus 330 (found here). This laminator has a comparable 13″ width and in my opinion is a better laminator.
  • Banner American Easy Lam Alternative – A comparable laminator to the classic Banner American Easy Lam is the Tamerica TCC2700 (found here). This laminator accepts the same film as the Easy Lam while producing similar results.
  • Banner American Easy Lam II Alternative – A great replacement to this iconic roll laminator is the GBC Ultima 65 (found here). It is still a 27″ roll laminator and can still be used in schools to laminate posters, signs, banners and more.
  • Banner American MightyLam 2700HC Alternative – The standard MightyLam 2700 and newer MightyLam 2700 were both classics. A great alternative to this classic is the GBC Pinnacle 27″ roll laminator (found here). It has about the same build quality and duty cycle. Another good alternative is the Ledco Professor 27″ Laminator.
  • Banner American ValueLam 4500HC Alternative – This laminator was one of Banner American’s heaviest-duty models. It could be used for laminating, mounting and more.  There are a couple of laminators that compare, although they are a bit more of an investment. The first is the Pro-Lam PL-244WF and the second is the MRL 42 Roll Laminator.

While it is extremely sad to see a valued manufacturer like Banner American go, it is nice to know that there are some high-quality alternatives out there. I have personally used laminators from Tamerica, GBC, Ledco and Akiles and can vouch for the fact that you will be just as happy with them as you would have been with the Banner American alternative.

We also carry a great selection of other laminating machines that you may want to consider using. You can find our entire selection of pouch laminators here and roll laminators here. If you need additional help finding a Banner American alternative, please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788.

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