What should I know about the different laminators available?

posted this on Jul 7, 2015

Looking for a laminator? Confused by the choices? Here are some of the basic differences between the different types of laminating machines.

Roll Laminators:

Also known as film laminators, these are the kinds of machines that you will find in larger organizations such as schools. These machines use large rolls of film to laminate documents that are of just about any size, and you can even laminate many documents consecutively and trim them when you are finished. Items are placed at the opening on one sheet of plastic (the plastic sheets that are lined with adhesive). There is a roller on top that holds the top layer of laminate in place. As the machine starts, the item is run though and the two sheets of adhesive-lined plastic are heated to the extent that they will adhere permanently together around the document.

The advantages of using a roll laminator are as stated above: you can process documents of just about and and all sizes, and you can laminate many documents in a series, sort of like an assembly line. Some if the disadvantages of roll laminators are the higher cost of these machines as compared to smaller pouch laminators, and the larger size which means that your roll laminator will probably have to occupy a dedicated spot within your workroom or processing center.

Pouch Laminators:

A pouch laminator is generally a smaller, more portable machine that uses specific sizes of adhesive-lined plastic (known as pouches) to encase documents. The paper that you wish to laminate is placed inside the pouch, and the pouch is then placed into what is known as a carrier (a card stock protective covering) and run through the machine. Like roll laminating, when the plastic is heated the two sides adhere and the document is thus encased in plastic.

Pouches come in thicknesses from 3 mil to 10 mil (a mil is equal to one one thousandths of an inch). The thicker the mil, the more rigid the finished product will be. Documents that are laminated with 3 mil pouches bend easily, while those that were laminated in 10 mil pouches are very stiff and bend little if at all.

Some of the advantages of pouch lamination are that the machines are generally smaller so they can be stored away when not in use, and that they are usually much less expensive. Disadvantages include the fact that you can only laminate documents of a certain size (whatever fits into your pouch and your machine) so you are a little bit limited there.

A note about carriers: There has been a slight movement toward “carrier-free” laminators, but for the most part these are to be avoided. Carriers help to keep the adhesive from collecting on your rollers and may indeed save the life of your machine.

Cold Laminators:

Fairly new on the scene, cold laminating presents consumers with a nice option. Using adhesive and pressure instead of heat, cold laminators are the only type of machine that can ensure water-tightness. They are also very handy for use when there will not be a power source around, such as on location at an outdoor festival. In some cases you might sacrifice rigidity, but the machines are also a bit safer because they employ no heat.

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