A Comprehensive Guide To Laminating

What Is Lamination?

Lamination is a process that seals a material with a very thin layer of plastic film. It is commonly used to protect and preserve ID cards, name badges, letters, certificates, photos, posters, graphics, menus, licenses, banners, artwork, decorations, and much more.

There are variations within lamination:

  • General lamination: requires a document to be fed into the laminator to contact the film adhesive, then a set of rollers or a large plate presses the film onto the document: the laminating film and the document are bonded. This is the most popular type of lamination used.
  • Encapsulation: a similar process to general lamination that uses a much thicker plastic film. This film extends beyond the edges of the material on both sides of the substrate. Encapsulation is used to laminate signs, licenses, posters, and other types of documents.
  • Over-laminating: the process of mounting a laminated document to a substrate: stiff foam board, wood, or a metal backing that is overlaid with a laminating film. This type of lamination is most popular for large-format graphics.

Lamination is a process that professionally prepares and preserves documents and materials for presentations, displays, and everyday use. There are many advantages and benefits to lamination: it gives documents a professional, smooth finish that protects the surface from fingerprints, scratches, and spills; it prevents heavy or dark inks from bleeding or rubbing off; it greatly enhances the color and contrast of photos and graphics, preserves sentimental and important documents for many years, and gives items additional strength and rigidity to endure excessive handling, water, outdoor conditions, and shipping.

How To Choose The Right Laminator

There are distinct types of laminating machines and each one provides different methods to adhere film to documents and materials. The types of laminators are discussed in detail under the heading “What Are The Types Of Laminators?” The best thing you can do before you shop for a laminator is to determine the present and future laminating needs of your business, organization, or school. The following questions will guide you in figuring out what your needs are, so you know exactly what type of laminator to shop for.

1. What is the volume of materials you will be laminating on a daily basis?

This is an important question because laminating machines operate at various speeds and are built to handle different volumes of materials. Consider how many items you laminate per hour, day, or month and take into account if this will increase or decrease in the future. The main categories are 1) low volume: you use your laminator on a monthly/weekly basis but not daily; 2) medium volume: you use your laminator on a weekly/daily basis but not continuously; 3) heavy volume: you use your laminator on a daily basis for frequent, continuous applications.

2. What is the width and size range of documents you will be laminating?

Laminators are designed with different throat widths to accommodate varying documents and different thicknesses of lamination film and pouches. For example, some pouch laminators can only laminate up to 4” and others can laminate up to 20” wide, while roll laminators have various throat widths from 9” all the way up to 60”.

Lamination film is available in various widths and thickness. If you want your documents to remain pliable and easily moveable, choose a thinner film; on the other hand, a thicker film will create a rigid document that is difficult to bend. Each laminator is designed to accommodate certain types of film and pouches, so determine the range of documents and materials you will be laminating before you shop.

3. What kind of materials will you be laminating?

This is important to determine because many laminating machines are built to work best with certain materials or substrates. For example, if you intend on laminating a lot of photos, you will want to choose a laminator that is photo capable. Some pouch and roll laminators are designed to work best with photographs, while others are designed to give you the ultimate versatility and work well with many types of materials and documents. Some machines can only laminate materials as thick as standard paper, while others can laminate documents up to ½” thick. If you laminate a lot of posters, banners, and larger documents, a roll laminator may work best for you, and if you need to laminate ID cards, name badges, licensees, and other smaller documents a pouch laminator may be ideal.

4. Will you need a machine that is capable of encapsulation or mounting, as well as

If you are going to be mounting, make sure the laminator you purchase is mounting capable and can accept thicker materials. Other features to look for are spring-loaded rollers, which automatically adjust to the item’s thickness while still applying consistent pressure. If you want to employ double-sided lamination, or encapsulation, make sure that the laminator is capable of this. Some laminators can do everything, while other laminating machines are capable of only one type of lamination. Read carefully about the machines you like before you purchase one to ensure they fit your needs.

5. How much space is available for the laminator?

Every environment will have a certain space designated for their laminator, and every machine will require a minimum amount of space to work properly and safely: pay attention to these details while you are shopping for your laminator. Do you need a laminator that can be easily moved? If so, choose a roll laminator with casters or purchase a lamination cart, or choose a pouch laminator with a carrying handle. Overall, pouch laminators are smaller and easier to move, while roll laminators tend to be larger; however, each type of laminator comes with options to increase their mobility.

6. What is the environment in which the laminator will be used?

If you are purchasing a laminator for heavy-volume applications in an office, factory, or shop, a stand-by mode will allow you to leave it running all day, without turning it off and on, so you can run applications at any time. You can also look for safety features if you need a school laminator, a ready indicators for larger settings to notify the operator when the machine is ready, and choose a desktop model if you have very little space to store the laminator.

What Are The Types Of Laminators?

Pouch Laminators: Pouch laminators are the most popular type of laminator used today because they are easy to transport, easy to use, and offer high-quality lamination for an array of documents: ID cards, name badges, photos, certificates, presentations, licenses, reports, and much more. They are compact, tabletop machines that can accommodate documents up to 20” wide (depending on the specific model), and vary in features, which affect the overall lamination process, ease-of-use, and the size/type of documents they can laminate.

Pouch laminators use pre-cut lamination pouches, which are usually sealed on one side and have a heat-activated film that coats the inside and eventually sticks to the document in the lamination process. Manufacturers build their pouch laminators with 2, 4, or 6 rollers. The rollers evenly and consistently distribute heat and pressure on the lamination film, so the more rollers a pouch laminator has, the better the overall lamination quality is and the higher the production capability.

Overall, pouch laminators are the least expensive type of laminator available, with the price averaging less than $100; however, some manufacturers have designed heavy-duty pouch laminators to meet the needs of many businesses that do cost more.

Roll Laminators:

Roll laminators are used to laminate larger documents; they are available with throat widths up to 60” wide and some models can accommodate items up to 1” thick. You can purchase a roll laminator for a specific event, medium-volume use in an office environment, or for commercial applications that require continuous use for high-volume applications. Because they are so versatile, roll laminators are designed with advanced-process control features: variable speed, variable temperature, reverse function, retractable slitters, cooling systems, pressure adjustments, automatic shut-off mechanisms, and a host of other features to meet the multiple and varying needs of every business.

How does a roll laminator operate? They use two large rolls of film; one roll is usually mounted above the second roll. The top roll laminates the top of your document and the bottom roll laminates the bottom of the document. Simply feed your document into the laminator on a feed tray; here it meets the “nip”, where the film is pressed into the document with the first set of rollers, then passes to the second set of rollers, which finish the document. The adhesive in the film has already been activated by a heating method built into the machines: heat shoes or heated rollers, so the overall process is simple and quick.

Compared to pouch laminators, roll laminators are more expensive. The average starting price range is around $1,200, and you can purchase heavy-duty, wide-format commercial roll laminators for upwards of $20,000. There are literally machines for every budget and laminating need. Educational institutes and print/copy shops use roll laminators for large documents and they are popular in factories, businesses, graphic shops, and other businesses with high-volume needs.

Foliant Laminators:

Foliant laminators have been popular laminators with book publishers and copy shops and until recently, this type of lamination has been unavailable to most businesses due to cost. Foliant laminators allow you to laminate a single-side of a document or material, and they provide the high-quality results found in other types of laminating machines. This type of laminator is ideal for a range of documents: book covers, magazine covers, brochures, and more.

Foliant laminators accommodate thin gauge films (1 to 2-mil) and give every document a professional finish with chrome-coated rollers that are regulated by an exact thermal control. Every foliant laminator is equipped with a loading conveyor belt for easy manual feeding, and they can be connected to separators, that automatically separate laminated sheets and prepare them for bulk stacking and cutting.

Dry-Mount Press Laminators:

To apply a substrate to a document during the lamination process, dry mount laminators employ a tissue adhesive, calculated heat, pressure settings, as well as periods of time. First, determine the temperature for the specific application and set it. Second, the tissue adhesive is placed between your document and the substrate, and then you place it in the press. The document, substrate, and tissue adhesive are pressed for a set length of time; as the adhesive heats up, it is forced into the document and the substrate: bonding them. If one period of time does not create a permanent, strong bond you can easily press the document again, without damaging any of the materials.

Dry mount laminators are ideal for laminating fabric, wood, and thick paper. The average price range is around $5,000.

Cold Lamination Versus Hot Lamination: Which Is Right For You?

There are several roll laminators that are designed for cold lamination only, such as the GBC Arctic wide-format roll laminators, and this type of lamination can be ideal for many applications, but most laminators provide variable temperature settings, including a cold setting, so it is important to understand the benefits and appropriate uses for cold lamination and hot lamination and what is best for your business or organization.

Cold lamination requires no heat and is used for heat-sensitive documents that can be damaged by heat, such as wax-based ink, vinyl media, and inkjet printers that use inks that melt in contact with heat. Cold roll film uses pressure-sensitive adhesives to create a bond between the lamination film and your document. Cold lamination is the choice for any application that has the potential to be destroyed by the high temperatures employed in hot lamination.

Hot lamination will give you the ultimate durability, permanent protection and preservation, as well as the highest-quality lamination results with amazing image clarity. This is the best method of lamination for documents and materials that will not be damaged by heat.

How To Properly Care For Your Laminator

There are several simple things you can do to ensure your laminator operates at peak performance and lasts for years with minimal maintenance.

First, pay careful attention when you load new film into your roll laminator. The number one cause of maintenance repairs for roll laminators is loading the film incorrectly. If you load lamination film backwards, the lamination adhesive melts and coats the rollers and other parts of the machine with the hot adhesive. This accumulation can build up over time and cause multiple issues with your laminator. If the film is wrapped around the rollers, or inserted backwards, clean the rollers before using the machine for any other applications.

Secondly, it is important to occasionally clean the rollers on your laminator. Even the most carefully maneuvered applications result in some adhesive deposit on the rollers, usually where the lamination film edge is positioned, so it is imperative to clean the heat rollers occasionally. This is a simple process; however, you must never use a knife, blade, or any other sharp object that could easily damage your rollers. The adhesive may be extremely hard and difficult to remove from the rollers, so rotate the rollers slowly and clean them regularly for the best results. The expert recommendation is to clean the rollers at least 2-4 times a year, depending on your usage.

There are additional things you can do/not do to prevent problems:
  • Do not laminate metallic or glittered items because the glitter can easily get stuck in the rollers and damage the laminator, and never laminate heavily-textured materials or items: coins or wood, as these types of objects will likely break your machine.
  • Let your machine warm up completely before use.
  • Always load your lamination film so the adhesive faces away from the rollers.
  • Let finished laminated materials cool before removing them from the machine.
  • Make sure you use films that are appropriate for the ratings of your laminator.
  • Do not leave your laminator on for long periods of time, unless it is designed with a stand-by mode.
  • Do not take your laminator apart; this will void your warranty.

By following the above guidelines and recommendations, you will ensure that your laminating machine lasts a long time and always operates at maximum efficiency with minimal maintenance.

Laminating Pouches: The Basics

Laminating pouches are laminating material that is constructed into a pocket to hold the document or item you want to laminate. A hot laminator is used to seal the pouch and create a permanent bond between the layers. Pouches are available in a variety of thicknesses and sizes.


The thickness and/or weight of lamination film is expressed in mils. Lamination pouches are available in 3, 5, 7, or 10-mil thick. The higher the number, the thicker the film is and the more rigid the final laminated document will be.


Laminating pouches are also available in various sizes, so choose a size that is appropriate for the item you are laminating. Pouches are made to match documents exactly; removing the need to trim the document after it is laminated. They are available in the following sizes:
  • (2-1/8” x 3-3/8”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for credit cards.
  • (2-5/16” x 3-1/4”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for data IBM.
  • (2-1/4” x 3-3/4”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for business cards.
  • (2-3/8” x 3-5/8”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for driver’s licenses.
  • (2-1/2” x 3-7/8”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for key cards.
  • (2-1/2” x 4-1/4”): available in 3, 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for luggage tags with/without slots or loops.
  • (2-5/8” x 3-7/8”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for military badges and ID tags with slots, slots and clips, or no slots.
  • (3” x 4-3/8”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for jumbo materials with/without a slot-short side.
  • (3-1/2” x 5-1/2”): available in 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for index cards and file cards.
  • (3” x 5”): available in 7-mil; designed for file cards.
  • (6” x 9”): available in 3 and 5-mil; designed for photos.
  • (9” x 11-1/2”): available in 3, 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for letter-sized documents.
  • (9” x 14-1/2”): available in 3, 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for legal-sized documents.
  • (11-1/4” x 17-1/4”): available in 3, 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for menu-sized documents.
  • (12” x 18”): available in 3, 5, 7, and 10-mil; designed for menu-sized documents.

Pouch Laminating Film

Pouch laminating film is available in several types, and you must know the application before choosing the lamination film to ensure you make the right choice.
  • Standard Clear Film: this is the most popular choice for lamination applications; it is imported and costs less than U.S manufactured select film.
  • Select Film: this is a U.S manufactured, high-quality film that usually costs more than standard clear film.
  • Matte Film Pouches: a multi-purpose, non-reflective, mildly granular finish that makes colors more vibrant and reduces glare. These pouches accept pencil, pen, marker, and reduce smudging, which makes them ideal for indoor and/or outdoor lamination applications.
  • Pressure-Sensitive Pouches: these pouches are designed with a sticky back that can be peeled off and stuck to a surface after it has passed through a laminator.
  • UV/UL Pouches: these pouches are designed for outdoor use and are able to filter out UV/UL rays that can cause fading in the laminated documents.

Laminating Film: The Basics

Laminating film is available in different widths and thicknesses, and like laminating pouches the thicker the film is, the more durable a document will be.

The application determines the film size, and sizes range from (2.25” x 3.75”) all the way to 1,000’ long rolls. The thickness (mil) will determine the protection level and rigidity. Items that are handled regularly and need a lot of protection require a high mil value, while large graphics, art, and other materials that need clarity and are handled less often need a lower mil.

Core Thickness

The core is a hole that runs through the lamination film, and roll laminators are designed to use lamination film with varying core thicknesses. The majority of laminators that have a throat width of 12”to 27” use lamination film with a 1” core, and wide-format roll laminators use lamination film with a core from 2-1/4” to 3”. Check the information on the laminators while you are shopping, or read the manual for your laminator to determine what size core you should use.

Hot Laminating Film

Thermal laminating film, also known as heat-activated film, is constructed of one layer of a polyester base film and one layer of an adhesive resin: both are bonded together. During lamination, the adhesive resin is melted and bonds with the document. Once this resin is liquefied, it spreads across the surface of the document and then pressure is applied to adhere it with the surface of the document: creating a permanent bond.

Hot laminators use two main types of lamination film:
  • Standard Film: used for everyday lamination applications for documents without a heavy ink lay-down.
  • Low-Melt Film: a special film that requires lower heat temperatures to adhere to a document. It is used for materials that are sensitive to high temperatures: photos and heavy ink documents.

Choosing Hot Lamination Film

To select the right lamination film for an application, determine how the finished product will be used. Differences in lamination film are made by the film’s thickness and its melt temperature; read below to determine the appropriate applications for each hot laminating film category:
  • 1.5-mil film: This film should be used when you need to protect items for a short period of time, with less concern about wrinkles, curling, or waviness. It is an inexpensive film that is ideal for such projects as sports-team rosters, parade signs, and other items that are used for short periods of time. 1.5-mil film requires higher temperatures (300ºF-310ºF), it has a low thermal mass, which allows it to quickly lose heat to the document during the lamination process and make the overall laminated document less durable and more likely to de-laminate in a short period of time.
  • 3.0-mil film: This film will give your documents excellent long-term protection and resists wrinkling, curling, and waving.
  • 5 and 10-mil film: These are the thickest films available and should be used when you need the greatest protection and rigidity. They work well with presentation materials, teaching aids, and items that are handled everyday.

Hot lamination film is available in a variety of finishes:
  • Matte: a multi-purpose, non-reflective, mildly granular finish that makes colors more vibrant. This finish is ideal for pencil, marker, and pen and has a temperature range of 210ºF-275ºF.
  • Satin: gives your laminated documents less glare and a soft sheen.
  • Luster: reduces glare while producing a sparkling sheen on laminated documents.
  • Gloss: ideal for documents with bright colors, adds radiance and definition to images.
  • Clear: an everyday film for roll laminators that adheres to most ink lay-downs. It is mostly used in educational institutes and copy shops because of its versatility. Gives laminated documents a glass-like finish and has a temperature range of 210ºF-275ºF.
  • UV Roll Film: A clear film with the benefits of UV protection. Your laminated prints will last up to 5x longer with UV film, and it has a temperature range of 185ºF-195ºF.

Cold Laminating Film

The lamination film for cold roll or pouch laminators is also called pressure-sensitive film, which refers to the sticky side of the film that adheres to the document when the film comes into contact with it. Cold lamination film is available in a variety of styles, widths, and thicknesses. Like hot lamination film, the thicker the film, the more rigidity and durability the finished document will have.
Cold lamination film is available in several styles to suit an array of applications:
  • Double-Sided/Dual-Laminating: used to laminate your entire document, on both sides, for the ultimate protection.
  • Single-Sided: used to laminate only one side of document, like the front of a book cover.
  • Magnetic: used to laminate one side of your document with a laminating film and the other side with a magnetic backing.
  • Transfer Adhesive: used to laminate both sides of your document, while simultaneously applying an adhesive backing with a peel-away liner that reveals the adhesive. This type of lamination allows you to stick the laminated document to a variety of surfaces: glass, wood, plastic, and more.
  • Over-Laminate: a laminating film that is cut out and laid over the material. It is commonly used for floor graphics, wall art, storefront signs, and games.
Cold lamination films are available in a variety of finishes:
  • Matte: a multi-purpose, non-reflective, mildly granular finish that makes colors more vibrant. This finish is ideal for pencil, marker, and pen and has a temperature range of 210ºF-275ºF.
  • Satin: gives your laminated documents less glare and a soft sheen.
  • Luster: reduces glare while producing a sparkling sheen on laminated documents.
  • Gloss: ideal for documents with bright colors, adds radiance and definition to images.

Dry Mounting Tissue

This tissue is a heat-activated, permanent tissue that is formulated for easier bonding of porous paper and smooth materials. It allows air to easily pass though it, which makes it great for mounting posters and similar documents. It is not recommended for resin-coated photos.

Common Laminating Accessories

There are several types of accessories that are commonly used in lamination applications, which are designed to increase project efficiency and work hand-in-hand with your laminated documents.

Foam Mounting Boards- Foam mounting boards are a 3/16” piece of white foam board that is coated with a heat-activated adhesive. They can be ordered in special sizes, finishes, colors, or with a self-adhesive backing. Make sure to use these boards with laminators that are designed to work with a mounting board.

GBC SelfSeal Laminating Pouches- These innovative pouches allow you to laminate a document anywhere, without a laminator. You simply peel back the pouch and reseal it, without worry of air bubbles or wrinkles. They are available in a variety of sizes to laminate: photos, letters, ID cards, luggage tags, and other documents.

Laminator Cleaning Supplies- Laminator cleaning supplies are essential for keeping your machine clean and running at peak performance by reducing adhesive build-up and maintenance. You can purchase a cleaning kit that includes everything you need, or simply replenish the foam cleaner.

Laminating Film- Laminating film is essential to preserve and protect documents and is used in all types of business, educational, and marketing settings. It is composed of polyester and adhesives to give your applications a smooth and clear lamination. Please read the above section: “Laminating Film: The Basics” to ensure you purchase the right size and finish for your projects.

Laminating Pouches- Laminating pouches are pre-cut, pre-sized, and available in a variety of sizes to allow you to easily laminate all types of commonly used documents. To ensure you select the correct size and thickness please read the above section: “Laminating Pouches: The Basics” before purchasing supplies.

Laminating Pouch Boards- Laminating pouch boards are a 3/16” foam mounting board coated with a low-temperature, heat-activated adhesive, as well as a sheet of laminate attached to the leading edge of the board. You should only use these types of pouches in a laminator that is designed to laminate a pouch board. They can be purchased in special sizes, finishes, colors, as well as with a self-adhesive backing.

Laminating Pouch Accessories:
  • Chains, Loops, Straps, Clips, and Chains- These accessories allow you to easily conceal, access, and swipe ID cards when needed. They are available in many lengths, styles, and colors to attach to a variety of ID cards and badges.
  • Badge Reels- Retractable badge reels are a very popular choice for displaying and carrying ID cards. They allow you to easily scan your ID card, while keeping it out of the way.
  • Slot Punches- Slot punches allow you to punch slot holes in laminated pouches, paper, PVC cards, photo ID cards, and other types of materials so you can easily use a lanyard or badge reel.

Laminating Pouch Carriers-
Pouch carriers protect your laminator by preventing wrap-arounds and adhesive oozing onto your rollers. They are made from a coated stock paper that prevents your pouches from sticking to the carrier and are available in a variety of sizes that can be cut for a custom fit.

Definitions Of Laminating Terms

Adjustable Temperature Control:
A laminator feature that includes a built-in adjustable thermostat that allows you to use a greater range of film thicknesses and lamination materials. Each model with this feature will have an adjustable dial thermostat that allows you to choose a temperature that will give each application the exact heat setting it needs.

A laminating mishap, in which the laminating film sticks to itself and becomes difficult to unwind.

A piece of folded cardboard that has a non-stick coating on the glossy side that protects the laminator by catching excess or leaking adhesive that has oozed out of the pouch during the lamination process. A carrier helps increase the life and performance of your laminator and can keep the heat consistent and uniform during your lamination applications.

Clear Roll Film:
A lamination film ideal for everyday use that adheres to most ink lay downs, and is popular with educational institutes and copy shops because of its versatility. Gives documents a glass-like finish and has a temperature range of 210ºF-275ºF.

A lamination defect that results from a lack of sufficient heat during the lamination process.

Cold Lamination:
A lamination process that requires no heat and uses pouches with a sticky coating inside that adheres to the materials being laminated.

Cooling Fans: Usually located at the back of the laminator and transfer heat from the laminated document and vent it into the surrounding air, quickly cooling the documents, which results in a curl-free, flat application.

Cooling Plates: Usually located at the rear of a laminator to absorb heat off a laminated document as it exits a machine, releasing it into the surrounding air. This process creates curl-free, flat documents.

Cooling Tray: A flat surface placed at the exit of a laminator, that allows documents to cool evenly, resulting in curl-free, flat applications.

Core Thickness: A hole that runs through the middle of the lamination films. Each laminator manual will state what size core film to use.

De-lamination: Can occur when the lamination film separates from the material, or when the base film separates from the adhesive.

Dry Mounting: A thermal lamination process, which uses a heat-activated dry-mount tissue to adhere to the back of an image to foam board, mount board, or another surface. This adhesion may take place with a press or a specific type of laminator. Dry mounting is commonly used for art and photos.

Emboss: A process that impresses an image onto a product or document to achieve a raised surface.

Encapsulation: A lamination process, either by pouch or roll lamination, which completely encases a document in laminating film. Usually a border exists around the top and bottom of the materials where the film layers are bonded.

Finish: The surface appearance of a lamination film.

Glossy: A shiny film finish ideal for documents with bright colors, adds radiance and definition to images.

Handgrip Slot Punch: A small device designed to punch small holes in laminated documents.

Hand/Desk Slot Punch: A small device with a built-in guide for accuracy designed to punch small holes in multiple items.

Heat Plates: A heating device used in laminators that uses high-wattage, silicone-bonded heaters for quick warm up and uniform heat distribution.

Heat Shoes: Solid, aluminum, extruded shoes that heat up to the operating temperature set on the laminator to melt the adhesive on the film as it is drawn across the shoes.
  • Heavyweight Heat Shoes- Heat shoes that are designed to wrap around the front rollers and provide a larger heating surface, which increases the shoes efficiency to provide a uniform heat for a professional lamination application.

Heated Rollers:
A heated roller system in which the roller is heated internally, then the heat is transferred to the document.

Hot Lamination: A lamination process that uses heat to activate the lamination film, causing it to adhere to the material being laminated.

Items inserted into a lamination pouch. They need to be several mm smaller than the outside dimension of a pouch to ensure encapsulation is successful.

A process that uses a plastic film to bond to a substrate using heat and/or pressure for protection, preservation, and a professional appearance.

Matte Film: A lamination film that has a slightly granular frosted texture that reduces glare and easily accepts pencil, pen, marker, and reduce smudging, which makes it ideal for indoor and outdoor applications.

Melt Temperature:
A range, or a specific temperature, at which a thermal film or adhesive is best applied.

Mil: The thickness of lamination film; thousandths of one inch.

Nip: A line where two rollers press together.

“Orange Peel”: A lamination defect as a result of too much heat being applied during the lamination process.

Over-laminating: The lamination process of mounting a laminated item to a substrate that is overlaid with film.

Polyester: The base, or outer protective layer of many thermal lamination and PSA films that does not melt during the lamination process.

Polyethylene: An adhesive used most frequently in thermal films. During thermal lamination, this adhesive melts and then cools to become a flexible solid.

Pouch: A pocket that has two flat layers of film, pre-sealed on one end, with heat-activated adhesive coated inside, which hold documents for lamination. Also available in a cold film, which has a pressure-sensitive adhesive on the inside and requires no heat.

Pouch Laminator: A compact laminator designed to accommodate ID cards size pouches and A3 or A4 pouches.

Preset Temperature Control:
A preset, non-adjustable temperature setting that usually allows a laminator to accommodate one or two film weights.

Pressure Adjustment: Allows you to adjust the pressure applied by the rollers to accommodate different thicknesses and types of materials that require different pressures.
  • Lever-Lock Adjustment- Pre-set for specific thickness intervals; rotate the lever to the corresponding mark, and it locks into place, adjusting the pressure accordingly.
  • Pneumatic Adjustment- Relies on compressed air pressure to adjust the roller heights to accommodate thin or thick substrates up to 1” thick.
  • Ratchet Adjustment- Manually spread the heat shoes and rollers to pre-set stops.

Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive (PSA) Film:
Lamination film that requires no heat, or low temperatures. This film will adhere to most substrates and is ideal for over-laminating and mounting applications.

Pressure-Sensitive Pouches: Pouches with a sticky backing that can be peeled off and stuck to a surface after passing through a laminator; requires no heat.

Resin: A general term for polymer, polyester, or BOPP that constitutes the heat-activated adhesive used in many thermal films.

Reverse Function: A feature on laminators that allow the operator to quickly reverse or remove film wrap-arounds and misfeeds.

Rollers: Provides the pressure to your laminate, making this part of a machine the largest contributor to the finish quality in a pouch laminator. High quality rollers are a combination of metal and an external rubber coating, which gives applications a greater pressure and smoother finish. Newer models have a silicone coating, which reduces adhesive build up.

Roll Laminator: A laminator that uses film on a roll.

Silvering: Air pockets trapped between a laminated document and the adhesives on the film.

Slitters: Trimmers used to cut one or both sides of document as it is being laminated.

Spring-Loaded Rollers: High-pressure springs used to force the rollers flat for a perfect edge seal on thin documents. If you use a document mounting board, the springs allow the rollers to automatically adjust the document, while maintaining maximum pressure.

Squeeze-Out: Melted adhesive that is forced out of the edges of the lamination by high temperatures.

Streaks: White lines in laminating film caused by trapped air between the film, substrate, and adhesive layers of the film; this occurs during the extrusion of the adhesive on the film.

Substrate: Under-layer; refers to the document or material to be laminated, the mounting board or foam, or the material to which an adhesive is coated (polypropylene, polyester).

Textured Laminate: A pattern introduced onto a film laminate by specially engraved rollers: leather, linen, canvas, or sparkler.

UV/UL Pouches: Pouches designed for outdoor projects; they filter out harmful UV/UL sunrays that contribute to fading.

Variable Speed Control: Allows the operator to increase the speed for less heat, or decrease the speed for more heat. Eliminates the need for an operator to manually adjust the temperature when changing film weights.