Laminating Machines and Laminators Buyer's Guide
|So you are interested in purchasing a laminating machine, but aren't sure what the best laminator to buy is. Let's us help you with that!|
A laminator makes a fun and functional addition to your home or office. There are many types of laminating machines, whether you are looking for cheap laminating machine for occasional home use, or an expensive laminator for heavy duty laminations, we hope this guide helps to make your decision making easier regarding the best laminator for you.
What is Lamination?
Lamination is a quick and easy way to protect your prints. Lamination protects prints by permanently bonding clear plastic film to one or both sides of the prints, making them tear and waterproof. It preserves your prints from moisture and environmental damage. In addition, color enhancement and contrast are added to your print images. Glossy-looking prints have a higher quality look to them. Lamination prevents prints from becoming creased, sun damaged, wrinkled, stained, smudged, abraded and/or marked by grease, fingerprints and environmental concerns.
Types of Laminators
There are many types and makes of hot pouch laminators in use, some have flat heated plates and others have heated rollers. Some require a card carrier, or laminating pouch carrier sheet, to be used every time that you laminate an item, others may not. Many more expensive models may have either adjustable speed or adjustable heat settings. There are also cold laminators, which laminate using a "sticky" type of film and no heat. Due to these and many other factors, our trouble shooting guide and tips are by no means exhaustive and may not be accurate for every machine. Please consult the manufacturers guidelines or contact your supplier for specific information concerning your machine.
Hot Laminating Machines
Hot laminators use a lamination pouch that is usually sealed on one side. The inside of the lamination pouch is coated with a heat-activated film that adheres to the product being laminated as it runs through the laminator. The pouch containing the print, laminate and substrate is passed through a set of heated rollers under pressure, insuring that all adhesive layers bond to one another.
Cold Laminating Machines
Cold pouch laminators do not use heat to laminate pouches. The cold roll/pouch lamination film is pressure-sensitive, which means the film has a sticky side that adheres to the product when it is brought into contact. Cold lamination is good for use with products that can be damaged by heat. One example of this would be wax-based ink that can be melted by heat. Another is using pressure-sensitive adhesives with temperature-sensitive media, such as vinyl or other low melt plastics.
About Cardboard Carrier Sheets
Some models require a specially coated cardboard carrier sheets when laminating to prevent damage to the rollers and distribute the heat from the machine evenly to the pouch. Models with silicone rollers may not require a carrier sheet, and may not function properly if used with one. Always reference the user manual for your machine to determine if one is needed or not.
DO NOT attempt to make your own carrier sheet. Use the one provided with your machine or in your pouches (if available), or purchase them separately. We do sell packs of laminating carrier sheets at a very economical price. Click here to purchase or view pricing for these.
Never Attempt to Laminate an Irreplaceable Document
While, for the most part, you should have a trouble free experience with your laminator, remember this is a piece of machinery and anything can happen, therefore it is very important to NEVER attempt to laminate an irreplaceable item in your new machine. Most photographs can be reprinted from negatives or digital copies, many documents can be reprinted from the originals, etc. However, if you try to laminate an item you cannot easily replace, you are doing so at your own risk.
Tips for Problem Free Laminating
- Ensure that you have the right type and weight of pouch for the item to be laminated. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Ensure that the machine is properly warmed up to the right temperature. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Use a card carrier if appropriate. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Ensure that the item to be laminated is right up to sealed edge of pouch, allowing a 2mm (minimum) border around the rest of the document to avoid jamming.
- Do not use ‘self-made’ chopped up pouches. You can always cut the item down to size AFTER it has been laminated.
- Ensure that the pouch to be used is the correct size for the job (e.g. an letter size pouch for an 8.5” x 11” sheet. Where an incorrect pouch size is used, poor lamination and trapped pouches will result.
- If you are attempting to use a pouch with several items inside it (e.g. several ID cards being laminating in one pouch), always use a carrier sheet, whether your machine requires it or not. Be sure to leave adequate space between each item so that you can cut them down after lamination.
- When cutting laminated items be sure to leave a “seal” around the edge of the document. If you attempt to cut all the way to the edge of your document your laminate may come apart.
- When laminating irregular surfaces such as embossed or textured originals, it may be necessary to send the item through the machine twice to avoid wrinkling.
- Make sure that all pouches are fed in sealed end first.
- Ensure that the rollers / plate are cleaned regularly as this prevents the build up of sticky residue which can also cause pouches to jam. Heat the machine to normal laminating temperature and then pass a non glossy piece of card through the machine as if laminating.
- If a pouch is trapped, do not feed anything into the machine to push it out, contact the manufacturer. Do not attempt to carry out repairs before consulting the manufacturer as you may inadvertently cause more damage.
Written By: Nora Kramer. ©Your Office Stop, 2011.
- Problem: Pouch looks blistered or wrinkle or is curled.
Causes: Machine not up to temperature.
Solution: Make sure you have given adequate time for the machine to heat up. Consult your user's manual for warm up times for your machine.
- Problem: Pouch looks lines or wrinkled.
Causes: Film not straight when inserted into machine.
Solution: Ensure pouch is fed squarely into the machine.
- Problem: Pouch looks cloudy / adhesion is weak.
Causes: Machine not up to temperature.
Solution: Make sure you have given adequate time for the machine to heat up. Consult your user's manual for warm up times for your machine. Try using a thinner pouch to see if it works better. If so, pouch may be too thick for the machine.
- Problem: Film wrapped around rollers / jammed in the machine.
Causes: Carrier not used when feeding items into machine or with smaller items.
Solution: If pouch is still visible, gently try to remove the film. If pouch is not visible contact the manufacturer.
- Problem: Pouch not sealing properly.
Causes: Machine not up to temperature. User of a carrier sheet in a machine that doesn't require one.
Solution: Make sure you have given adequate time for the machine to heat up. If you are using a carrier sheet, please refer to your user's manual to make sure that your model requires one.
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