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What to Consider When Buying a Laminator

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If your office produces important documents that need extra protection, you might want to invest in a laminator. Laminating presentation slides or display notices gives these important documents a cleaner and more professional appeal while also protecting them against spills, tears and other damage while in use. However, it’s necessary to find the right laminator that will enhance production and allow for better protection of all your important documents.

Here are just a few things to look for:

  • Laminator type − The four most used styles are hot, cold, rolled and pouch
  • Capacity − The machine must be able to accommodate rolls or pouches thick enough for your project.
  • Features − A laminator should have lots of safety features and other features that make it safe and easy to use.

Read on for further details on what you need to consider before purchasing a laminator.

Types of Laminators

Available types of laminators include hot/thermal and cold. Hot or thermal laminating machines are the most commonly used in an office setting, as they provide the highest durability and accuracy. They work by heating the adhesive backing of the laminate material, which melts and adheres to the document. You need to make sure you use the right thickness of laminate, as the heat can melt rolls that are too thin and ruin your document project. You can also avoid overheating by using a laminator that has adjustable temperature and auto shut-off features.

Cold lamination works using either a cold laminating machine or self-adhesive sheets or pouches. You can get laminating sheets or pouches at just about any office supply store. Each sheet has an adhesive backing, so you use one sheet on each side of the document, or you can place the document inside the pouch and press it closed. This is a handy and inexpensive option for light-duty lamination projects, but it can also result in air bubbles in the laminating sheets if the material isn’t smoothed out correctly.

Machine Capacity

Some laminating machines only use laminating rolls while others use pouches. Both rolls and pouches come in different gauges or thicknesses, usually from 3 mils to 10 mils. The type of document you need to laminate will determine the thickness of laminate you should use. The heavier the laminate, the more protection it will provide for your document:

  • 3 mils − This is a light-duty thickness used for laminating things such as menus, posters and other documents. You can also use cold laminating sheets or pouches for these.
  • 5 mils − If you’re laminating something that will be handled more often, 5mm provides added protection against damage.
  • 7-10 mils − For documents that you handle frequently, the heavier thickness will provide the best protection against damage such as tearing, bending and folding. This is the thickness often used for ID and luggage tags.

Extra Features

It’s recommended that you purchase a laminator that has certain safety features to guard against accidents. Heat guard technology is a safety feature built into hot laminating machines to ensure the machine itself stays cool on the outside when it’s on. This feature prevents accidental burning if you happen to touch the machine while in use. An auto shutoff feature is also a must, helping to avoid overheating in case someone forgets to turn the machine off. Anti-jamming features can also be useful, with many laminators featuring a reverse function that allows you to rewind the rollers to remove or reposition the laminate. Some machines also have a jam release button. If the laminating material becomes stuck, the release button eases the roller tension so you can remove the laminate.

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