Types Of Laminator
The most common option, and probably the best if you are just going to be laminating business and ID cards, small posters and tags. They come in sizes from ID card to ordinary A3 sheets.
Pouch Laminating Systems are thermal machines. They use heat to melt the glue within laminating pouches, and the fusing of the two sides seals the paper document. Just place the document in the pouch and then run it through the laminator.
This is the type we have featured most heavily in our reviews, as they are widely available without going to a specialist shop and they’re also the easiest to use.
These use rollers to seal the laminate. They use rolls of laminating film as opposed to pouches and are a bit more flexible in terms of size, so are found in schools and workplaces.
They work at their absolute best with larger prints, so anything A4 and above. To buy, they’re a bit more expensive, but the flexibility could mean this is worth it
Dual Sided Film Laminators
Mainly found in professional environments. They can just seal one side of a document if needed, so are perfect for menus, business cards, recipe cards and posters which still need to have a bit of flexibility to them.
Basically a form of pouch laminator, except they are able to cope with much larger paper sizes. They are commonly used on large banners, posters or maps.
Hot and Cold Laminators
Furthermore, the types of laminator are split again into the sealing technology they use.
Most will be hot, using heat to activate glue inside pouches or film and stick to the paper/card, giving a firm seal. The heat is provided via rollers which press over the surface.
What is a cold laminator? Well, they are newer and a bit less common, but the difference could be vital depending on what you are sealing. They use rollers too, but this time around they are kept cool, using pressure to do the job instead. These are found in environments where using heat could damage the item being printed. Some don’t even need power to work, so can be used anywhere and are safer.
You can now buy self-adhesive pouches which don’t need heat to work, so if you prefer to work with this type of pouch or find that they are more affordable/readily available, a cold option will be needed.
There are a few models out there which can be used as both, which may be worth considering if you print precious photos or high-quality posters as well as boring old documents. Multi-heat options are probably the most common cold laminator you’ll find available to buy for non-professional use.
What is the maximum size of document or paper you will be laminating? If you are a teacher who frequently makes A3 posters, owning a laminator which can only cope with documents a maximum of A4 size is a little pointless. Don’t just think about the immediate future either – if you own a printing business, you may wish to expand in a few years time and don’t want to be buying more equipment.
Large laminators can also take smaller prints, so you aren’t going to be restricted if you get something too big now.
This is the measurement of thickness. 150 microns will be thicker than 75 microns. This could be important if you need to either make solid, unbendable prints or relatively flexible sheets.
Sometimes, you will see microns displayed as ‘2×75’, which basically means it will take a pouch of 150 microns, but the pouch needs to be evenly split as 70mics each side.
You may also see film measures in mils, which is a thousandth of an inch (0.01″). 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses are the most commonly found, and the higher the number, the thicker the film.
How many sheets you need to laminate every day will depend on the model you can buy. Pouch laminators are usually the best for small to medium volumes, from a handful of prints to a couple of hundred. Anything above this will need a high volume, professional laminator.
Other Things To Look Out For
- Warm Up Time – You want to get the job done ASAP. The average is probably around 3-4 minutes for home use, but office laminators may heat up in as quick as one minute
- Dimensions – If you’re using it at home, you’ll want to ensure that you have an appropriate amount of room for it
- Auto Shut Off – Should your hot laminator overheat, you want it to be able to close down in order to protect you, the paper being laminated and your home
- Automatic Detection – The laminator will start pulling through the paper/card as soon as it is detected, meaning you have less setting up to do
- Auto Reverse – Just like a printer or shredder, if the paper becomes jammed or starts to go wonky, you’ll be able to sort it out without damaging anything