Whether you’re a teacher planning out classroom materials or an office manager designing safety handouts, workers in all industries can benefit from lamination. Simply put, lamination is a way to protect documents behind a layer of plastic casing. Laminated documents are not only protected from rips and spills, but can also be easily cleaned and reused. 

However, knowing you want to laminate your documents and knowing where to start are two entirely different tasks — so today, we’re breaking down the basics of Lamination 101: the four types of laminator machine, how to use them, and how to choose the best laminator for you. 

The 4 best laminators for beginners (and how to use them!)

It’s time to talk about the laminators themselves! You don’t have to be an expert right away to find the best laminator for you. There are four main types of laminators — roll, pouch, cold, and wide format laminators.

Pouch Laminators

Pouch Laminators tend to be the most popular type of laminator machine out there. This is because of their relatively low price and compact size. Modern pouch laminators use heated silicon rollers to wrap documents in secure “pouches” that protect from grabby hands and messy spills alike. You’ll typically see pouch laminators in small businesses and home offices, used for small items like menus, photos, and classroom handouts. 

To use a pouch laminator, simply open a pouch (typically thermal laminating pouches or self-sealing laminating pouches) and slide your document in. Then, feed it carefully into the pouch laminator according to its settings. It’s as easy as that! 

Roll Laminators

Roll Laminators can be used to mount materials on foam board or accommodate larger graphics, like signs and larger wall decals. Roll laminators are typically used for higher “volume” processing (AKA, laminating many things very often, like a printing business or sticker-making business). 

Using these roll laminators is a little more involved, because we have to “thread” the roll before it can start laminating. To do this, we load in two laminating film rolls (one for the top roll and one for the bottom roll), then test out the placement by putting a threading card (or piece of cardboard) through the laminator. This allows us to test out the lamination settings, and then trim away any excess before feeding actual projects into the machine. 

Cold Laminators

Cold Laminators are designed for fragile items, like historical documents or professional photos with sensitive ink. These do the job of a “regular” laminator without the heat, relying instead on pressure to seal a document. Most of the time, you’ll see cold laminators used for one-sided laminating like rigid display graphics (think trade show signs or grocery store labels). While these machines don’t require electricity or a warm-up period, they are often more expensive than other types of laminator. 

To use a cold laminator, we place the document between two sheets of lamination with a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Then, we roll the document through the high-pressure rollers and trim off any excess lamination. Cold laminators are extremely easy to use, making them a popular choice for schools and classrooms! 

Wide Format Laminators:

Finally, Wide Format Laminators are used for — you guessed it! — laminating large items. Typically found in the trade show or printing industries, floor-standing wide format laminators are meant for daily, extensive use. Wide format laminators are the best choice for durable signs or other materials, up to an average maximum width of 65”. 

Wide format laminators are on the rarer side in this industry, simply because they require more setup and training than other kinds of laminator machines. Once a wide format laminator is set up, however, it works much the same as a cold laminator or roll laminator. Practice makes perfect! 

Okay, so which laminator machine is right for me? 

The nice thing about lamination is that once you get the hang of it, you can use just about any laminator machine. When you’re ready to buy, we recommend asking yourself a few questions to determine the best laminator for you: 

  • What kinds of things will you be laminating? 
  • What’s the largest size you’ll want to protect? 
  • How often and how many materials do you plan on laminating? 
  • How much space do you have to work with? 
  • And finally, do you need heat, or are your documents too fragile to risk in a heated laminator? 

The answers to these questions will help you pick the best laminator for your school, home office, or small business. 

Ready to try lamination for yourself? The team at Lamination Depot has everything you need to become a lamination expert: lamination supplies for beginners, workstations and stands, carriers, cleaning supplies, and laminating accessories. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our Product FAQs here, or get in touch with us at 800-925-0054. We’re here to help! 

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