Stick Together: Understanding Laminating Film Adhesive Applications to Prints

Let’s quickly review the components of a print before we discuss applying laminating film.

Anatomy of a Print:

  • Stock/Material – In addition to different thicknesses, paper stocks have different textures and levels of acid content.
  • Ink vs. Toner – Printing machines utilize either fluid (wet) ink or powdered (dry) toner to add an image. It is important to note whether or not you are using an oil-based media.

Light vs. Heavy Toner Coverage:

  • Prints with light toner coverage, such as an itemized list with small/no accompanying graphics with a lot of the white paper underneath showing through, require minimum adhesive strength.
  • Prints with high toner coverage, such as a full-color poster with edge-to-edge printing, require maximum adhesive strength.

We recommend that prints are completely dry before applying laminating film to prevent unsightly bubbles, condensation, etc.

Laminating Film Adhesive Types:

  • Standard: Designed for light toner coverage.
  • PRO: Designed for medium toner coverage with water-based inks.
  • Digital: Designed for heavy toner coverage with oil-based inks.
  • Pressure-Sensitive: Designed for stocks made of non-porous material (like a sheet of vinyl or other plastic).

We Answer Application FAQs:

I am a school that is laminating student projects with Standard laminating film. Why is the laminating film not sticking to my students’ construction paper projects?

Construction paper most often has a higher acid content than standard office copy paper. If you encounter peeling or lack of film adhesion to construction paper projects, we suggest switching to an acid free paper, slowing the speed on your laminator if possible, or upgrading your film adhesive strength.

Will PRO film work for my digital prints?

As long as the activation temperature does not reactivate the toner applied to your print, PRO film can also be suitable for digital prints.

New Item Numbers: Same High-Quality Laminating Film, New Identifiers

Attn: Regular Customers

We’ve just updated our roll laminating film item numbers – same high quality product, just a different, more consistent item number.

All previous item numbers are still searchable within our website; however, the same item will appear as a result with the new item number.

Here is a quick guide to understanding our new laminating film item numbers using our Standard 1.5 Mil Gloss Laminating Film 25 in. x 500 ft. x 1 in. Core as an example:

Old Part Number: 01-255-1X
New Part Number: S15G251

(S) – Single letter = which type of film it is (Standard, PRO, Digital/Low-Melt)
(15) – Two digits = film thickness
(G) – Single letter = film finish (Gloss, Satin, Matte, Ultra Matte)
(25) – Two digits = roll width in inches
(1) – Single digit = core diameter

Thank you for bearing with this change. If you still can’t find the laminating film that you usually purchase, please contact our Customer Service team by email, online chat, or phone. We’re happy to help you!

5 Key Terms to Know when Ordering Roll Laminating Film

Not sure which roll laminating film to buy for your project or existing roll laminator? Learn some of the frequently used terms to better decide which roll laminating film is right for you!

1. Roll Width

Measure the distance (in inches) from one flat end of the roll to the other (the length of the cylinder).

2. Core Size

Measure the inner diameter of the cardboard or plastic core around which the film is wrapped, similar to that of wrapping paper or paper towels. This core slides onto the machine’s mandrel and keeps the film held in place during lamination.

3. Film Thickness

Since laminating film is so thin, it is measured in Mil, which is equivalent to only one one-thousandth of an inch. Common film thicknesses include 1.5 Mil, 1.7 Mil, 3 Mil, 5 Mil, 10 Mil.

4. Film Finish

The shine or dullness of laminating film is described as its finish. Gloss is the most popular. More specialized finishes such as Matte may also be available for certain varieties.

5. Footage Length

The long, continuous sheet of laminating film that is wound around the roll of laminating film is pulled from the roll during the lamination process. Use this measurement in combination with the roll width to determine the number of rolls you need for your project.

Mounted Prints Stand Up to Competition – Literally!

Provide structure to printed images by using mounting materials! Boards of different materials combined with a variety of adhesives provide a backbone for an image and prepares it to be displayed.

Why use mounting?

Prints can last longer and be displayed in a three dimensional space once mounted to a board, window, wall, floor, etc. Mounting is often helpful with in-store signage, point of purchase displays, and more.

How does mounting work?

Imagine that you’re creating a printed “pizza:”

  • mounting board acts as your “crust” and provides the necessary backbone to support all the other elements.
  • Mounting adhesive is your “sauce” that binds the top and bottom pieces together.
  • Your printed image acts your “cheese” topping.
  • A layer of laminate is an additional “topping” that adds more flavor, or in our case, protection.

While almost all pizzas are made hot, a mounting process can be performed either with heat or with cold pressure-sensitive materials. Select hot or cold materials based on which equipment you may already have.

What kinds of materials are available?

In addition to hot or cold, you’ll decide which board (or substrate) material you wish to use:

  • Foam Board: A simple sheet of Styrofoam with a paper coating on both sides, frequently available in a 3/16 in. thickness.
  • Ryno Board: Denser foam board with a paperboard surface, often available in 1/4 in. thickness, which provides more stiffness.
  • Gator Board: Durable, rigid, strong and extremely flat; these boards are the standard for trade show graphics or applications in which the material is frequently handled.
  • Corrugated Plastic: Built similarly to standard corrugated cardboard boxes; these boards are often used for outdoor signage and are most recognizable in political campaigns.
  • Sintra: A sheet of solid PVC plastic that measures anywhere from 3mm to 6mm.
  • Paper Stock Boards: Simple, thin paperboard, very similar to matting used by frame shops and artists.

Your mounting board material choice will be affected by the conditions in which your image or sign will be displayed – indoor vs. outdoor, stationary vs. handled, etc.

Comparing Gloss vs. Matte Laminating Film & Pouch Finishes

What is the difference between a gloss and matte pouch? Aren’t they both clear?

Both gloss and matte laminating film and laminating pouches are considered clear since the printed image being coated is shown completely; however, the finish can alter the image’s appearance.

A gloss finish gives a highly reflective, shiny look to an image – much like smooth glass.

A matte finish will absorb rather than reflect light, giving it a duller, almost frosted appearance.

Colored films such as a solid black or white are often used as the backside of an image since they are opaque.

Which is better: gloss or matte?

The advantage of each finish varies by application:

Gloss remains to be the most popular laminating film finish choice. It is most often used for handled items such as name bookmarks, badges, book covers, and restaurant menus.

Matte film used in these instances runs the risk of scuffs and scratches more quickly over time when compared to gloss. Matte laminating films and pouches are an excellent choice for signs and images shown under direct lighting. Gloss films used in these applications would cause the image to be obstructed by glare; however a matte finish diffuses glare and allows the coated image to be seen clearly from many angles and distances.

Creating Custom Magnets with MagnetPouch Magnetic Laminating Pouches

Whether they’re used as promotional giveaways, advertising on vehicles, or gifts for friends and family, magnets have become a popular way of sharing favorite photographs, brand messaging, contact information, and more. Despite their popularity, making custom magnets has typically been a time-consuming, multi-step process that made creating small runs of professional-looking magnets an unrealistic prospect for most businesses. To make custom magnet production faster, easier, and more cost-effective, MagnetPouch has introduced an innovative series of products that eliminates the challenges faced by many previous production methods.

MagnetPouch Magnetic Laminating Pouches

MagnetPouch magnetic laminating pouches combine every aspect of custom magnet production into one easy process that requires only a pouch laminator. Each magnet pouch is made up of two layers – a high-clarity, 3 mil, thermal laminating film layer (available in soft-touch matte or gloss finish) and a thin, high-strength magnet layer that is coated with an aggessive, thermally-activated adhesive. To create a magnet, the printed artwork is placed between the laminating film layer and the magnet layer, then the pouch is fed through the pre-heated pouch laminator. Below is a guide to creating magnets with magnet pouches:

  1. Preheat your pouch laminator. We recommend using a laminator that has six or more rollers for best results. While you may be able to make magnets using a laminating machine with fewer rollers, it may require multiple passes through the machine in order to fully activate both adhesive layers. The optimum temperature will vary depending upon the thickness of the stock that is being used in your magnet. For lightweight stocks (5-7 pt), set the temperature to 230-250 deg F. For cardstock, set the temperature to 250-270 deg F.
  2. Insert your document into the magnet pouch, aligning it as desired. Multiple smaller pieces of paper can be placed side-by-side into a single pouch, however fine wrinkles may occur during lamination.
  3. Place the pouch into a carrier sheet. Always use magnetic pouches with a carrier sheet to protect your laminator from potential damage.
  4. Insert the carrier sheet into the laminator, ensuring that a slow laminating speed setting is selected.
  5. Remove the magnet from the carrier as soon as it exits the laminator. Place the magnet onto a flat surface to allow it to cool.
  6. Trim as desired. Note: To create a borderless (or “flush-cut”) magnet that is water-resistant, you will need to print your artwork onto synthetic paper. Contact us for specific recommendations on which variety is best suited to your project.

MagnetPouches magnetic laminating pouches are available in a range of sizes, including photo, letter, and car magnet.

In a Jam? Here’s How to Clear a Jammed Pouch Laminator

If an inserted pouch does not come out the other side of your pouch laminator, it may have jammed your machine. A quick resolution is to run the machine in reverse and hopefully roll the pouch back out of the front of the machine.

Why is my pouch laminator jammed?

A few common ways an operator can jam a laminating machine include:

  • Running a laminating pouch at too high of a temperature, causing it to melt and wrap around the machine roller(s)
  • Inserting a laminating pouch with the end opposite the sealed edge first

If the pouch will not come out either end of the machine and you start to smell a burning plastic odor or see smoke, immediately turn off and unplug the machine. Wait for the machine to cool down completely before attempting to remove the jammed pouch or clean the machine interior.

How do I remove a jammed pouch that won’t come out when I press the reverse button?

Pouch jams are not often covered by machine manufacturer warranties. In the event a pouch is certainly jammed in the machine, you may be able to remove it yourself and clean the adhesive off the rollers.

Most models of office grade or professional pouch laminators have a removable hood, allowing you to access the rollers. If you cannot remove the jammed pouch from this angle, you may need to disassemble the machine to access the culprit under the bottom set of machine rollers.

How do I clean my laminator’s machine rollers?

Once the blockage is cleared, there will likely be an adhesive mess on the rollers. The adhesive can be cleaned by gently rubbing the rollers with a soft cotton cloth (like an old t-shirt scrap) dampened with odorless mineral spirits. Be careful: silicone rollers can tear easily.

Once you’ve cleaned and reassembled the machine, you may smell the remainder of the adhesive melting off the rollers for a while.

If your machine rollers have melted and the machine cannot be repaired, you may need to purchase a whole new machine.

How do I prevent pouch laminator jams?

Here are some helpful tips to lengthen the life of your pouch laminator:

  1. Referring to your machine’s operating manual, match the correct temperature to your pouch thickness.
  2. Use a pouch carrier to evenly distribute heat across the pouch and provide structure to thinner pouches (like 3 Mil & 5 Mil). Note: In some cases, you may need to increase the temperature by about 10 deg F.
  3. Always insert a laminating pouch into the pouch laminator with the sealed edge first! This way, the air is properly pushed out of the pouch as it goes through the machine, making sure the pouch doesn’t buckle during the process.

Create Custom Dividers, for Less!

Your professionally bound book deserves equally presentable divider pages.

Consider laminating a full-color, duplex printed sheet with photos or highlighted information on it, then attaching a self-adhesive tab to further indicate a division within your book.

This process combines both pouch laminating and comb, coil or wire binding.

After printing the sheets for your book(s):

  1. Place a single “divider” sheet into the appropriate sized laminating pouch.
  2. Laminate the pouch according to the proper specifications for your pouch thickness indicated by your machine’s instruction manual, allowing enough of a border along the binding edge of the sheet to punch the holes without piercing the paper inside.

Using your binding machine:

  1. Punch the sheets of your book, then punch the divider sheets so all the holes align properly. (It’s okay for the divider sheets to have extra plastic hanging over the unbound edges.)
  2. Bind your book using the spines that match your binding machine’s punch pattern.
  3. Attach self-adhering tabs to the edge of your divider sheets opposite from the bound edge.
  4. Handwrite or type your tab labels, then insert them into the attached index tabs.

Lamination Depot Exclusive – Edible Laminating Film Now Available!

After receiving dozens of requests from of our customers, Lamination Depot is thrilled to announce the launch of our exclusive line of edible laminating films. Designed to meet the needs of discerning chefs, on-the-go eaters, and food photographers alike, edible laminating films provide the high-clarity, water-resistant finish of traditional lamination, but without all of the hard-to-digest plastics. Edible lamination makes an excellent substitution for bread in your favorite sandwich recipes – simply laminate and trim for easy transporting and an indefinite shelf life.

Edible laminating films from Lamination Depot are low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. Specialty flavors – including chocolate and bacon – will be available soon.

Serving Suggestions:

Layer your favorite meats and cheeses between two layers of edible laminating film and run through your pouch or roll laminator to create a laminini.

Cut edible laminating film into two circles (approximately 8” across). Sprinkle shredded cheese onto the bottom layer, adding hot sauce if desired. Place the other circle of film on top and laminate for an unbeatable lamidilla. Olé!

*Please note: This post is intended as a joke. Laminating film is not edible and is not to be used with in conjunction with food items. Happy April Fool’s Day!