The laminator machine is useful in many places today, from homes and schools to offices and commercial establishments. People use laminators in homes to seal various items, in schools to cover documents, and industrial settings for large scale lamination. This first part is an introduction to laminating machines if you’re not familiar with them.
What is a Laminator Machine?
A laminator machine is a device (manual or electrical) that’s used to cover items with clear plastic, foil, paper, or any other material. It can be a simple laminator for home use, a standalone laminator for schools, or professional laminator for business and industrial application.
Most laminators today encase different items in a clear, plastic film or polymer and vary widely in terms of size and sophistication. They range from the small, desktop laminator that you can place on a table to the large, industrial laminators used in most print shops and manufacturing factories.
The lamination process refers to the technique by which a material (laminate) is used to cover an item (substrate) using either heat and pressure (or pressure only) and a bonding agent. Usually, a special type of adhesive is used and pressure applied by rollers.
Different materials can be laminated. They include paper, vinyl or even wood and glass. Items can also be laminated on only one side or both sides. Two-side lamination is the most popular as it covers items entirely to preserve them.
The lamination process aside, why do we laminate things? Here are some of the benefits of lamination in general, whether when done for home projects or commercially in a digital print shop or industrial situation.
- Lamination improves the overall appearance of the laminated item or product
- Laminated media cannot stain and remain in good condition for a long time
- Lamination can introduce a scratch-resistant covering
- Laminated items do not tear easily and last longer
- You can easily clean laminated items and use them many times over
- UV-resistant plastic film protects material from fading
- Glossy lamination enhances the colors of digital prints and photos
Common Laminator Uses
Laminator uses range from personal to commercial. It can be a lamination machine for home use, a laminator for schools, a laminator for office use, or industrial laminator that works automatically and offers a high output rate. As you can see, the lamination technique is applicable virtually everywhere. Here are a few of the most common laminator applications.
This is one of the most popular laminator uses. People laminate all sorts of documents to protect them from abrasion, spills and stains or smudges. Laminated documents last longer, look more presentable, and a host of other benefits such as protection from forgery.
Many people keep photos of loved ones that they may want protected from aging. A laminator helps achieve that by covering the photos with a polymer film. The photo laminator is often a desktop machine that does not use heat so as not to cause damage to the ink. A photo lamination machine will also often be a pouch type.
You can easily laminate cards or card-like items such as postcards, student cards, ID badges, and citizen identification cards. Laminating ID cards makes them look more professional, in addition to increasing their thickness and lifespan. Laminating business cards, too, and other types of cards such as those used in events or occasions.
Laminating maps helps keep them in good condition for a long time. These can be maps for schools, maps showing pre-determined escape routes in a large building, or even personal travel maps. If you’re laminating large maps, a wide format laminator machine is required.
A laminator for posters or banners is a large-format device capable of laminating wide media. Laminating banners and posters protects them from damage in outdoor conditions. When the laminating sheet is UV-resistant, it also helps to shield the poster from the effects of the sun such as fading.
How a Laminator Works
A typical laminator machine presses two parts of sticky, plastic film over an item using rollers made from either rubber or silicone. The rollers may be heated or cold. Depending on the level of sophistication, the machine may be manual, partially automatic or fully automatic. Here is how a laminator works depending on the level of complexity.
The basic laminator is a simple construction with only rollers, knobs to vary the roller gap or laminating pressure, and a handle or crank to turn the rollers. Because it uses no heating system, this kind of laminator machine depends on rollers to press two plastic sheets together to encase a document, card, or any other item.
During the lamination process, the rollers press against the laminating film as it moves through the machine. This helps to bond the two laminating sheets together, thereby covering the item placed between them. A simple construction laminator can be a desktop version or standalone device.
Advanced Thermal Laminator
An advanced thermal laminator uses heat to laminate items, in addition to the pressure provided by the rollers. Depending on its level of sophistication, it may even use and automatic sensor-operated temperature control, a mechanism to regulate the gap between the rollers, and safety features such as auto shut off and surface cooling.
Advanced laminators are often large with more rollers: in-feed rollers to advance the laminating roll or pouch into the machine, drive rollers to run the media through the device, and release liner rollers to receive the backing paper. Some, like industrial laminators, even come with in-feed and out-feed trays to guide the material as it goes into and out of the machine.
Laminator Machine Price
There are many places where you can buy a laminator: stationery stores, specialized lamination machine shops, or from online sellers– and if you’re in a business that deals w, directly from laminator manufacturers. But even then, you will want to know the price range of these machines before buying one.
So, how much do laminators cost? The laminator price depends on these factors:
- Laminator type
- Laminator size
Lower Laminator Price $20 to $70 – this category consists of compact laminators such as table top versions that you can even store in a drawer. It also includes small, manually-operated and cold lamination machines for small scale use.
Mid-Range Laminator Price $70 to $200– the laminators in this group are a little more advanced with more features. The size also increases and the machine is capable of more professional works including both hot and cold lamination.
Higher Laminator Price $200 to $ 1000– these laminator machines are suitable for a variety of lamination jobs including commercial ones. They are also capable of higher rates and laminate a wide range of materials.
The laminator cost can go higher than $1000, up to several thousand dollars. Higher priced laminators include the industrial types. These are normally fully-automated installations that use large film rolls and fit wide-format, heavy duty applications.
A laminator machine is a versatile device that you can use to seal many different materials and items such as photos, maps, and even large ad signs. Laminating machines are also manufactured in a broad range of sizes and types. Because each laminator is meant to meet specific needs, we recommend that you, as a buyer, understand what every type can or cannot do- more about that in the next section!