Laminator machine
Last updated: 01/15/2020

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The passage of time is unavoidable–not only for people, but for documents as well! Important papers, especially if you store them in a corner of the office or the house, are at the mercy of moisture, the environment, mold and ultimately destruction. The same goes for photos, cards and letters. The solution? Use a laminator. Do you know about these devices?

If you don’t already know what we are talking about, don’t worry: you’ve come to the right place. Throughout the paragraphs that follow, we will explain everything there is to know about laminators and the potential they have to preserve your documents with the highest possible quality. To learn about the many advantages of these useful machines, read on!

Key Facts

  • Laminators are electric machines that use heat to protect documents, photos or other flat materials. They protect these papers against degradation, moisture and dust.
  • Laminators help to preserve documents, and their seals are irreversible. That is, once you laminate a document, you can no longer make changes to it. They also bring shine to the document and make the document waterproof.
  • There are laminators of different sizes and designs, depending on the environments in which they are used. They differ in their daily production capacity and, in general, all of them require some type of maintenance.
  • It is necessary to purchase laminating pouches or sheets separately.

Our Selection: The Best Laminators on the U.S. Market

Whether in your home or in your work environment, important papers and documents surround us. Also, most people usually have photos that they want to keep. Laminators can be great allies in this regard, but how to choose the most appropriate for you? The selection that follows shows you some of the best available on the market today.

Best Laminator with Pouches Included

This laminator is a great value–At only $64 this laminator by Scotch comes with over 100 3M brand pouches. It is great for home office and crafts and is a professional-quality laminating machine for home or office use. It laminates items up to 9 in. wide and pouches up to 5 ml thick.

Best All-Around Laminator

Fellowes brand is a top choice in high-quality, high-value office supplies and this laminator is no exception.  It warms up in just 1 minute and laminates items up to 12.5 in. wide. It includes 10 sample pouches and at a special price of $123, you will get a professional-grade machine at a home-office price.

Best Budget Laminator

No products found.

Don’t mistake the incredibly low price point of just $24 with low quality on this laminator.  A customer rating of 4.9 out of 5 starts and over 4,000 reviews means this is a tried-and-true little machine with a great reputation.  It has 2 heat settings, a release button and everything you need to start laminating!

Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Laminators

It is not easy to choose the laminator to purchase when you want to get started laminating. Often, these are machines that incorporate other functions and not just any model adapts to the specific needs you may have. That is why we have prepared the following section. Here we will go over of the most common questions about laminators to answer all of your questions.

Person laminated a printed image

With a laminator you can preserve documents for a very long time.
(Source: Alfred Hofer: 50290035/ 123rf.com)

What exactly is a laminator?

A laminator is an electric machine that, while creating heat heat, helps preserve documents– usually, but not exclusively, sheets of paper. The way this function is performed is to envelop the documents in two layers of plastic, one on each side. These layers serve to protect the sheet of paper from stains, tears and wear, and strengthen the paper making it more long-lasting and durable.

How do laminators work?

Laminators work with heat. Once the paper or document is inserted into the machine, they are placed under pressure, between hot rollers or heating plates. The laminator heats and slightly melts the plastic at temperatures ranging from 140 to 180 degrees, joining the film to the material completely. In this way, the paper inside is double-sealed.

Matt FearonPresident, Genie Industries.

“Office machines, from copiers, paper-shredders to laminators, address the challenges that users face at work and this process will continue to develop.”

The plastic sleeves (usually called “pouches”) used to laminate are slightly larger than the paper chosen to be preserved. This is so that the protection is sealed all around the document and covers the entire surface of the document. If you want to laminate special format papers, you must make sure you use large enough pouches to achieve full protection.

What are the benefits of using a laminator?

The management of important documents is a task that requires serious responsibility in today’s security-conscious times, both at home and at work. If you want to preserve these documents and protect them from the passage of time, having a laminator nearby saves money and, above all, time. In addition, it provides of security and convenience, since they can be adapted to multiple purposes.

Can the process performed by a laminator be reversed?

Unfortunately, this is not possible. The lamination process makes the documents resistant to water, stains and resistant to all kinds of problems. This is because the plastic materials merge with the paper. Therefore, it is not possible to remove the plastic from the paper later. It is, however, possible to cut a laminated sheet to a small size or to apply it to your paper with a rounded corner, so that the laminated paper can be filed easily and conveniently with other papers.

On the other hand, this property of irreversibility is very useful in some environments, since it provides an effective security system against the falsification of documents. Laminators prevent people from modifying, adding, or editing text. Once the machine has completed its work, the paper is sealed securely.

How do you use a laminator?

Laminators are not the most common machines usually found in homes and offices, so it is normal if you do not know exactly how to use one. There are many different models on the market, and their functions may vary by brand or manufacturer, but the process for using a laminator usually follows similar steps, as described below:

  • Turn on the laminator and wait for a specific preheating time. In general this is 3 or 4 minutes and there are usually LED lights that indicate when the machine is ready to laminate.
  • Place the document, photo or material that you want to laminate inside the pouch or between the plastic sheets (if there are two).
  • Insert all the materials into the laminator. You will probably have to adjust it with your hands so that it is very straight and firmly set.
  • Push the lamination button, if it does not start automatically when it detects the materials in place.
  • Do not interrupt the lamination process.
  • Remove the material once it has completely passed through the other side of the laminator.
  • If you want, you can finish the material by rounding the corners of the document or cutting off excess plastic.
  • Be careful in order to avoid burns, as the machine uses heat and some parts are very hot.

How are ABS systems used in Laminators?

The acronym ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System) refers to a brake system that some laminators have which helps avoid one of the most common and annoying problems with laminators: paper jams. Simply operate the ABS lever or button to release the jammed paper or pouch. You can then remove the materials from the machine and, if they have not been ruined, they can be re-processed or re-used.

Do laminators heat up instantly?

When working by applying heat to the pouches and then protecting sheets of paper, photos or cards, laminators do not start up instantly. Usually, they need a little time to preheat to get ready to laminate. During the heating period, is important to be careful and avoid burns, since the machine will get quite hot at this time.

Three coworkers working at office comparing data

An important feature of laminators are the pouches, be sure to take into account the thickness you need for your specific documents.
(Source: Antonio Guillem: 82118369/ 123rf.com)

After the preheating phase–which normally takes up to 4 minutes–is completed, the laminator is ready to use. Once you have laminated a document, it is advisable to wait a few seconds before you use it again, so that it can fully r-heat. It is also common that these machines have periods after which they must be allowed to stand and “rest” for a few minutes.

What technical specifications should I look for in a laminator?

Laminators are electrical machines. As such, technical specifications vary by model. As always, it is important to be clear about what you want to use the laminator for. Once this question is answered, the factors you will want to consider are the following:

  • Voltage
  • Roller Power
  • Preheating Time
  • Maximum Width of Materials to Laminate
  • Maximum Thickness of Materials to Laminate
  • Thickness of the Lamination Pouches
  • Laminating Speed
  • Active Operating Time

How important are the pouches and sheets used by laminators?

These items are extremely important. The pouches are the fundamental consumable products that, through the heat of the laminator, protect and preserve your documents. Often some sample pouches included with the purchase of the machine. The most important factor to consider is the thickness of the pouches, which is measured in microns. The following table provides more information.

Pouch Thickness Appearance Level of Protection Materials
75 to 80 microns Very Flexible Basic Paper Documents, Photos
100 microns Flexible Daily General Documents, Photos, Art Prints
125 microns Semi-Flexible Advanced Diplomas and Certificates
175 microns Semi-Rigid Premium Posters
250 microns Rigid Expert Outdoor Posters

What types of laminator pouches exist?

In general, different brands of laminators recommend their own sheets or pouches. Sometimes you can use other brands with your laminator, but you should confirm this fact before you make your purchase. The types of pouches that can be found on the market are not highly varied, but there are options. As always, you should decide in advance which activities you want to do with your laminator. You should think about the thickness and size of the pouches and sheets.

  • Perforated pouches: These come with holes already punched along the side, in case you plan to store your laminated sheets in a folder.
  • Adhesive pouches: Ideal to post on a wall or a hard surface, in case you want to have laminated documents displayed in your home or office.
  • Ultra-rapid pouches: There are some pouches that, to save time in the task of laminating, have only one side sealed, which allows a speed 40% faster than with standard pouches.

Shopping Criteria

If you are thinking of purchasing a laminator, your task of preserving and protecting documents or photos will be so much easier with one of these handy little machines. You may not be sure about which model to buy, but there are some factors that you should keep in mind to help you make the right purchase. In this section we review these factors, so you can be sure that you will get the right machine for your needs.

Lamination Speed

A laminator should help you save not only money, but also time. There are models that can take several minutes to laminate a single sheet of paper, which reduces the level of production and tries your patience. It is advisable to ensure that the machine can handle long active periods of operation and does not take more than 2 minutes per document if you plan to laminate more than one sheet once in a while.

Laminators have many uses in a home or office environment.
(Source: Auttakorn Printragoon: 82806258/ 123rf.com)

Safety

Laminators are electric machines and work by applying heat. This feature, while essential to achieve a good result, can be dangerous, especially if there are children nearby. Before buying any model, therefore, you should ensure that it has all the necessary safety certifications in order to avoid burns and injury.

Anti-Jam System

If you plan to make frequent use of a laminator, you are likely to eventually experience typical paper jams. Therefore, it is very useful for these machines to have some type of system that will release the documents if necessary. It can be in the form of an ABS lever or automatic shutdown. The important thing is that a technical problem is not too disruptive to your work.

Versatility

You never know what kind of material you might want to laminate in the future. If you are not sure, it is better to have a laminator that can laminate both paper and photographs, for example. In addition, it is also useful to be able to insert items of different sizes and formats, rather than just 8.5 x 11 in., for example.

Size

It may seem like a minor detail, but you may live surrounded by many office machines such as a printer, a scanner or a photocopier. If you add another device that also occupies a lot of space, it will end up getting in the way and creating a crowded, uncomfortable working space. Today, the market is full of laminators with compact and lightweight designs, so you can choose a low-profile design when you select your laminator.

Summary

Laminators are useful machines for preserving documents and protecting them from moisture, dust, stains and the typical wear and tear of time. They work by electricity and apply heat to plastic pouches that effectively seal and protect sheets of paper, photos, posters or cards, among other materials, in plastic.

These machines help save time, money and make it very easy to preserve important documents. They should be used with caution, however, since the process is permanent and heat can cause burns if you are not careful. Most models have anti-jam functions and most can handle limited periods of active operation.

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and family on social media so that they can learn everything there is to know about laminators. If you have any questions about laminators, please leave us a comment below. Thank you!

(Source of Featured Image: Alfred Hofer: 50290033/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Paige Dygbert Professional Writer
With a background in such diverse areas as law, business, translation, art, teaching and even childcare, I bring broad general knowledge and direct, yet friendly style to my articles. I love helping people to choose the best possible option there is on the market and THEGOODESTATE.com is a great platform to do so.