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How I choose between a Hot or Cold Laminator?

Jeff McRitchie posted this on Jul 2, 2015

When it comes down to choosing between a hot and cold laminator, there are many things to think about. While both of these types of machines will provide you with durable, preserved documents, there are differences between the two of them in regards to available supplies, cost, and so on. So here’s what you need to think about when shopping for a laminator so you can choose the right one.

  • What supplies are available. One of the most important considerations when deciding what type of laminator to get is the availability and selection of supplies. Thermal pouches are GBC HeatSeal Ultima 35 EzLoad 12" Roll Laminator - 1701680pretty easy to find and there are a lot of different sizes to choose from. (You’ll be able to laminate small items like business cards and larger ones such as maps and menus.) There aren’t as many sizes available when it comes to cold laminating supplies. This won’t be too much of a problem if you’re working with a roll laminator but it could be an issue with a device that handles pouches.
  • How much time you want to save. You’re probably a very busy person and are looking for a device that can provide you with quick results. If that’s the case, a cold device would be a particularly good choice because it wouldn’t require any warm-up time. There are some thermal machines that can take in excess of ten minutes to heat up which can be really inconvenient when you’re trying to get things done in a short amount of time.
  • The cost of the device. Of course, cost is going to be an issue whether you’re buying a car, a computer, or a laminator. Laminators are available at all price points but you should keep in mind that you do get what you pay for. That said, thermal machines are usually a bit more expensive than cold ones simply because they cost more to produce. (The difference in price isn’t too great but it is there.) However, you will find that the supplies need for cold lamination are more expensive than what you need for thermal processing. So going with the cold machine could end up costing you a bit more in the long run.
  • What you’re going to be laminating. Something you absolutely must think about before getting a laminator is what you plan on laminating. The size of your materials will play a part because you’ll need a roll laminator to process large items such as posters. Also, there are some materials that shouldn’t be processed by a hot machine including documents and photos that have been printed with water-based ink. These items can be damaged when exposed to heat so if you’re going to be working with a lot of them, a cold device might be best. Or you may want to go with a laminator that can do both hot and cold lamination. It’s up to you.