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How do I choose the right laminating roll?

Jeff McRitchie posted this on Jul 6, 2015

If you are having a difficult time figuring out which laminating roll film is right for your laminator and your job, you are not alone. Almost every day I receive calls from individuals looking to find the right roll laminating film. Choosing laminating film really doesn’t need to be that hard. Here are five simple questions that you can ask yourself when choosing roll laminate. By answering these questions you will be able to determine the roll film that you need. 

  1. Width. Of course you are going to be limited by the size of your laminator. Most school laminators will handle laminating film that is up to 25” or 27”. Check your laminator and see what size it can handle and then consider the items that you are going to be laminating. If you are just going to be laminating letter sized documents you might want to consider 12” laminating film or choose 25” film and feed two at a time. Don’t worry so much about length at this point since your answers to the rest of the questions below will most likely dictate the lengths of the rolls available to you.
  2. Thickness. After you have selected the appropriate width of film, the next step is to choose the right thickness of your film. Laminating roll film is available in 1.5mil, 1.7mil, 3mil, 5mil, 7mil and 10mil. Depending on your application you will need to choose one of these options. Schools most commonly use 1.5mil film to laminate teaching materials, posters and visuals. If you are looking for more ridgitity or your document is going to be frequently handled, you might consider choosing a heavier gauge of film. Remember to check your laminator to make sure that it can handle the thickness of film that you choose. A lot of school laminators are only capable of laminating documents with 1.5, 1.7 and 3.0mil film.
  3. Core size. The next question to answer deals with the cardboard roll that the laminating film is wrapped around. Some laminators use 1” cores, some use 2-1/4” cores and some use 3” cores. More than likely your laminator will use a 1” or 2-1/4” core unless you have a wide format commercial laminator. The easiest way to check is to measure the core size of the film that is already on your machine. You can always check your users manual, too.
  4. Film texture. The two most common textures for laminating film are gloss and matte. Most users choose gloss film since it is less expensive. However, matte film is great for applications where there is a lot of glare or where the finished document needs to be written on. If you have a machine that has either a 2-1/4” or a 3” core you will have lots of other choices in laminating films and textures. Most of these other textures will be suited to specific commercial laminating applications.
  5. Length. The reason why this question is left to last is that depending on your answers to the previous questions there is a good chance that you won’t get a choice in the length. Most of the time by the time that you choose all of the other options, the film that you need will only be available in one length. If there are multiple lengths available it is important not to choose a roll that is too long for your machine. If a roll is too long, the outside diameter of the roll will be too big to fit on your machine and you won’t be able to use it.
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