What is the difference between different laminate thicknesses?

posted this on May 24, 2016

Choosing laminating film for your laminator can be pretty easy. After all, if you have a roll laminator you just need rolls whereas a pouch device just needs pouches, right? Well, yes, but there’s one key thing to keep in mind when buying the supplies: the thickness of the laminating film. Not every machine can handle all thicknesses of film which is why it’s important to know all you can about these supplies.
 
Laminating film thickness is measured in mils. A mil is simply the equivalent of 0.001th of an inch, so it’s pretty tiny. Film thicknesses range from 1.5 to 10 mil; in other words, they go from thin to thick. Here’s a rundown of the common thicknesses and what they’re good for.
  • 1.5 and 3 mil. These are the thinnest films and they’ll provide your documents with a flexible coating. They’ll be protected from a number of things including spills and rips. Most of the school laminators on the market are compatible with 3 mil film so you can use it for banners and artwork. Also, pouches that are 1.5 and 3 mil thick are usually quite inexpensive, so they’re good for big jobs.
  • 5 mil. These are the middle-of-the-road pouches. They offer a great deal of protection and will make your documents somewhat rigid. It will be be difficult to fold or crumple your materials and they’ll be more or less waterproof. These pouches are good for a variety of materials including signs, certificates, and so on.
  • 7 and 10 mil. If you documents need heavy-duty protection, then you should use pouches that are either 7 or 10 mil thick. Documents laminated with these supplies are almost indestructible and will be able to withstand heavy handling. Often, these films will protect your materials from UV rays so they’re great for items that will be used or displayed outdoors. These supplies are also great for ID cards and security badges.
That’s a quick overview of laminating film thickness. Before you buy any pouches or rolls of film, make sure you check your laminator’s instruction manual to determine which thicknesses will be compatible with it.
Happy laminating!

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