Do I Need a Heat Assist Laminator?

posted this on Apr 27, 2016

If you have been shopping for a wide format or commercial laminator you will find machines that are labeled hot roller, cold, and heat assist. Each type of machine has its own place in the market. However, for the purpose of this blog post we are going to be looking at Heat Assist laminators and their place in the market. Along these lines, here are a few things you might want to know.

  1. These machines work more like cold machines than hot ones. They are designed to work with pressure sensitive rolls of film and not standard or low melt films. The heat provided by these machines is not designed to melt adhesive. Instead it is designed to make the application of pressure sensitive overlaminates easier. It also helps to reduce bubbles, wrinkles and helps to increase lamination speed. I have heard of some people running ultra low melt films on these systems but this is not what they are designed for and the application is not recommended.
  2. Heat assist laminators don’t require nearly as much power as traditional heated roller machines. While many wide format hot roll systems have special power requirements, these versions will often run off standard 120v power. Even if they do require 220v, they will use significantly less power during the lamination process.
  3. These machines can be used with the heat assist on or off. This means they are fully functional cold laminators. If you don’t need the heat, then you don’t have to turn it on. Additionally, you can usually adjust the heat of one roller or the other for specialty applications, mounting and overlamination. They have take up rollers to unwind the release liner backing from pressure sensitive films and can be used with a wider variety of films
  4. The primary benefit of this type of system is that it gives you more control. They are popular for sign shops, graphic artists, photographers and marketing firms that need to produce the highest quality output for mission critical projects. With a cold system you really only have control over speed and tension. By adding heat to the equation you are able to achieve better results and use specialty films that are difficult to use otherwise.
  5. They tend to be more expensive than cold systems and less expensive than hot systems. If you don’t need a full blown hot roller machine then these might provide a great compromise. Plus the maintenance costs and replacement parts are cheaper than hot roller machines.

Ultimately, heat-assist wide format machines have their own unique place in the market and are best suited for users that are looking to do more than a cold machine can handle but don’t want to shell out the money or don’t need all the features included in a hot roller system. Check out the specs of the different machines for yourself and see which one makes the most sense for your application.

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