If you’re new to lamination, you may not be versed in the different types of laminators. That can make deciding the kind to buy an uphill task. To acquaint you with the various versions of the device, we put together a comprehensive list of the laminator types in today’s market.
Types of Laminators
As we saw in the earlier section of the guide, a lamination machine is usually either a desktop type for small scale use or an industrial laminator for high-volume processes. Generally, the types of laminators today are grouped by the following.
1. Size and available features (desktop laminator vs. wide format industrial)
2. If they use thermal means or pressure to seal items (thermal vs. cold lamination)
3. If they use plastic pouches or rolls of plastic as the laminate (pouch vs. roll lamination)
Based on the above classification method, the laminators on sale today can be categorized into these types:
- Desktop laminator
- Industrial laminator
- Thermal laminator
- Cold laminator
- Pouch laminator
- Roll laminator
The laminator machine types are discussed more deeply below, including their working and other important details such as best application.
Desktop Laminator Machine
A desktop laminator is a compact device for low output projects. With only a few features and controls, these laminators are easy to use as well as maintain. A majority of them are built to laminate IDs, business cards, postcards, menus, price or check lists, and a variety of small documents.
Desktop laminators are also usually either cold or thermal versions. They can also be manual or electric. Depending on the number of features, table top laminating machines are more affordable and best for non-commercial laminations. They’re also best choice if you want a laminator that doesn’t take up a lot of your valuable space.
Industrial Laminator Machine
These types of laminators are large or wide-format devices suitable for commercial or industrial use. Unlike the desktop version, they’re standalone equipment with an array of mechanisms to make the lamination process both autonomous and fast.
Despite costing more, industrial laminators are less laborious to use. They are typically automatic with most processes guided by motorized and electronic control systems. Since their output is higher, these types of laminators are best used in places where the number of items to be laminated is high.
Industrial laminators are also used in manufacturing factories to laminate various products and enhance their appearance or increase their longevity and other benefits. They normally use rolls and can be hot or cold types. Because of their sophisticated construction and working, industrial laminator machines require expertise to operate.
Thermal Laminator Machine
Also called hot laminator machine, the thermal laminator employs heat to activate the adhesive on the laminating pouches or films. The heat-activated adhesive then causes the upper and lower parts of the pouch or sheet film to stick together when pressure is applied.
A hot laminator has these benefits and characteristics: hot laminating produces stronger and more durable seals. Most hot laminators use rolls and offer a higher lamination rates. A hot laminating machine can also be used with a wide range of materials, including vinyl.
The downsides: The hot laminating machine price is usually higher than that of cold types. You also cannot use them with some colors or inks as the heat could end up causing damage. Another downside is that thermal laminators are often complicated and difficult to use, plus their heat may be too high and unsafe to the user.
Cold Laminator Machine
The cold laminator machine is called so for not using heat to seal items. Instead, it applies pressure on adhesive-backed film. Most use pouches and seal items under the pressure provided by rollers and the motion of a hand crank.
Because only one sheet or pouch is used at a time, the cold roll laminator is mostly suitable for low-volume applications such as home crafts and some office laminations.
The main advantage of cold laminators is that they do not use heat and, therefore, cannot damage digital prints or photos. Being typically manual, these types of laminators are simple to use too, and almost maintenance-free. However, they do not produce lasting laminations like those of the hot types.
Roll Laminator Machine
A roll laminator uses a continuous film or plastic sheet to seal or cover materials and items. Since they employ rolls instead of pouches, these laminator types cover a broad range of applications. You can use them for both small and large format lamination or cold and hot lamination.
An industrial roll laminator machine is a typically high-output machine for commercial use. As such, these types of laminators are mostly used to laminate posters or signs and a variety of small size laminations. They’re also commonly used to laminate products in manufacturing industries.
Pouch Laminator Machine
Pouch laminators are the most common types of laminators today and mostly used in homes, schools, offices, and even restaurants. They seal small items such as ID cards, photographs, restaurant menus, business cards and other small items.
A pouch laminator uses a “pouch” – or simply a small, laminating sheet folded in half – to cover the item. But that also means a low lamination rate as items must be inserted into pouches and laminated in turns. So a pouch laminator machine is usually not suitable when you need to laminate huge volumes at a time.
Laminating Machine Sizes
Different types of laminators are built in various sizes to fit different budgets and laminating needs. A roll laminator, for example, can range from a few inches to as large as up to 27’’. Generally, pouch laminators are identified using standard paper sizes.
Pouch laminators are mostly available in A3 and A4 sizes as a majority of laminations fall under these sizes. However, you can also buy an A2 laminator if you intend to be laminating mostly large items.
Laminator pouch thickness, on the other hand, typically varies from 1½mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, and 7mm, to 10mm or higher. The pouch laminator sizes are explained below in a more detailed way, including their best applications for each size.
An A2 laminator seals A2 size items and any other size below that. These machines are not common as most personal and commercial laminations do not lie in the size category. You may want to consider buying one, though, depending on the need.
An A3 laminator seals items that are its specific size and smaller ones ranging from size A4 to size A6 or smaller. A3 laminators are best used to encase larger documents such as posters.
These types of laminators are designed to encase A4 items all the way to A45 and A6 or smaller sizes. An A4 laminator is, therefore, best suited to seal ID cards, business cards, and a variety of documents or other items such as price lists or catalogs.
Different types of laminators mean different areas of applications. Your choice should, therefore, be in line with what the particular model is capable of. In order to avoid obtaining the wrong machine for your project or business, make use of the information in this chapter. In the next part, we will see how to use a lamination machine correctly and safely based on type.