Use this handy guide to help you make the right choice of laminator for your specific needs. Asking yourself these questions will help to ensure that the machine you purchase best suits your requirements. Make sure you take into consideration all the aspects shown. Alternatively of course, you can call one of our advisers at standard rates on 01225 690700 for assistance.
What Is Lamination?
Lamination or encapsulation is a fast and simple way to protect documents, signs, artwork and graphics. Strictly speaking, the term “lamination” refers to applying a protective film to one side of an item that can be trimmed right to the edge of the item without the bond breaking down. In this case, pressure-sensitive or single-side heat-sensitive film is used – always in the form of rolls. Examples of this would include the protective film on the front of a business card; self-adhesive wall or floor graphics; good quality restaurant menu; or estate agent house brochure.
“Encapsulation” describes the process where low-melt film in the form of pouches or rolls is used, leaving a border of about 5mm all the way around the edge of the item to ensure the integrity of the lamination. Most people will be more familiar with this technique and indeed, it will be the technique they need to use. Trimming to the edge of the item using encapsulation film will result in the eventual breakdown of the lamination bond, hence the need for the border. Examples of this would include large and small format posters in schools, shops or at exhibitions; photos; office signs; identity badges; etc.
In the real world, the term “lamination” has tended to become a catch-all or generalisation to describe both the main processes described above, so it is important to be clear on your requirements before proceeding. Call us on 01225 690700 if you are unsure.
Encapsulated items become completely waterproof and tear-proof, because the clear film is bonded all the way around the edge of the document. Laminated items benefit from surface protection.
Benefits of Laminating Documents
- Enhancement and preservation of colour and contrast to images
- Professional, quality-looking documents
- Long-term protection of documents that need frequent handling
- Quick and easy, with immediate results
- Avoid creases, wrinkles, sun damage, abrasions, tears, smudges, fingerprints and grease marks
- Protection from spills, rain and mild chemicals
How would you best describe your daily usage?
Light - Medium Duty: Up to 10 sheets per day, a Small Office machine should be adequate for your needs.
Medium Duty: Up to 15 sheets per day, an Office laminator would be best suited to your needs.
Heavy Duty: Up to 25 sheets per day, a Heavy Duty machine is strongly recommended for this level.
What maximum width of item do you need to laminate?
It’s important to bear in mind that the laminating width shown for all our machines is the maximum they can laminate. This means they can laminate all sizes up to that maximum. For example, an A3 machine can also laminate A4 and even smaller sizes such as credit card, ID, badge, etc.
On the flip side, an A4 machine can laminate no bigger so it’s important to consider carefully if you will ever need or wish to laminate something bigger - albeit the requirement may be infrequent - before making your choice.
As a guide, most people need to laminate A4 paper (normal size printer paper) almost all the time but also need to process A3 occasionally. This means that the trend in sales is towards A3 machines, which enables people to deal with these two key sizes.
Of course, if your requirements are even more flexible, such as wide format or long lengths then you should look at one of the roll laminators or commercial laminators in our Wide Format section.
What is the maximum pouch thickness you are likely to use?
Standard pouches of 75 or 80 microns per side (total 150/160 microns when laminated) are fine for items that will get little handling and not be exposed to the elements. Typically, most documents will get a very good level of protection with a pouch of up to 125 microns per side (total 250 microns when laminated). Commercial, industrial or professional applications will require pouches of a greater thickness for maximum protection and an appropriate machine will be needed to take these pouches. Check the machine’s specification carefully to ensure it can handle the pouches you wish to laminate.
Do you need to laminate photos?
All the pouch laminators we offer can handle photos.
What is a pouch carrier and do you need one?
A pouch carrier is a Teflon or cardboard protective sleeve consisting of two sides and sealed or hinged at one end, that a pouch with the item to be laminated within, is itself inserted into before feeding into the laminator.
With the exception of the Peak Educator series of laminators and GBC Academy laminator, all our pouch laminators can be used without a carrier. Carriers also are not applicable to roll laminators. The Peak Educator series and GBC Academy are designed to be used at all times with a carrier such as the Lifejacket (see below).
Other, modern laminators do not need a carrier except if you intend to use your laminator for the lamination of small, multiple items in a larger pouch (i.e flash cards or similar to be cut out after lamination); odd-shaped items (i.e. stars, speech bubbles, etc.); any item that does not match the pouch size; or uneven items like children's artwork, collages or other uneven materials. In this case you should purchase a Lifejacket pouch carrier with your order. Using a Lifejacket pouch carrier in these instances dramatically cuts down on the likelihood of a jam. Failure to do so may invalidate your warranty if you then laminate such items and require technical support as a consequence.
A cardboard carrier should not be used with a modern laminator but we do have cardboard carriers available for older laminators in our Pouches and Carriers category.
The more rollers that a machine has the better quality the lamination and the less likely it is that jams will occur. This is because with more rollers, the path through the machine is smoother and the heat applied to the pouch more consistent. Wherever possible select a machine with the highest number of rollers that your budget will allow for the best results.
Don’t hesitate to call us for advice if you need it on our standard rate number: