Anyone shopping for a pouch laminator will quickly discover the overwhelming amount of options. If you are a novice, the amount of choices may be daunting, so we have created this guide to help establish your needs and determine which pouch laminator will work best for you.
How often will you be using your pouch laminator?
This is an important question because every pouch laminator is designed to handle a different volume of lamination applications. There are three distinct categories of use:
- Occasional, Infrequent, or Light Use: This is defined as a few times per month or less.
- Moderate or Medium Use: This is defined as several times a week, but not daily.
- Frequent or Heavy-Duty Use: This is defined as everyday, high-volume use.
If you are a hobbyist or own a small office and only need to laminate documents on an occasional basis then we recommend a Personal Pouch Laminator. These machines cost less because they are designed specifically for lower volumes of use but will still provide great quality and options. For moderate use, a Personal Pouch Laminator may be able to handle your projects or choose a general office pouch laminator that states it is designed for moderate volumes of documents. Anything more than moderate or occasional projects calls for a heavy-duty, professional pouch laminating machine.
What size documents will you be laminating?
We cannot stress enough how important it is to answer this question before you buy a pouch laminator, because they are only able to laminate up to specific widths depending on the width of their throat, and cannot be adjusted to accommodate sizes beyond their capabilities. Once again, this category can be divided into three categories for simplicity, but your personal range may extend into all three.
- Small-Sized Documents Up To 4” Wide: ID cards, business cards, luggage tags, photos up to 4”x6”, index cards, and other documents.
- Small and Medium-Sized Documents Up To 13” Wide: This includes all the above mentioned documents, as well as letter and legal-size papers, larger menus, and photos up to 8”x10”.
- Small, Medium, and Large-Sized Documents Up To 44” Wide: This will cover you for almost any size document you can imagine up to tabloid and poster-size, large menus and photos, or documents for a mounting board.
If your laminating jobs will be strictly limited to smaller documents, such as index cards, ID cards, name badges, and luggage tags, then we recommend a small personal pouch laminator with a minimum throat width of 4.5”, like the Fellowes EXL 45-3. For small and medium-sized documents you can use personal pouch laminators with wider throats, as well as commercial grade pouch laminators designed for moderate volumes. For very wide documents like posters, tabloid-size papers, or large menus the only type of pouch laminators designed to accommodate these widths are wide format pouch laminating machines.
How will you use the documents after they are laminated?
This question pertains directly to the thickness of laminating pouches that a laminator can accommodate. Every pouch laminator uses pouches to laminate your documents; you slide the document into the pouch and insert it into the machine. The thickness of the pouch dictates the flexibility and durability of the overall laminated document. Follow the guidelines below to choose the right pouch laminator:
- Flexible Documents and Minimal Handling: Choose a pouch laminator that can accommodate laminating pouches up to 5-mil thick.
- Rigid Documents and Extensive Handling: Choose a pouch laminator that can accommodate laminating pouches up to 10-mil thick.
- Documents That Can Stand Upright: Pick a pouch laminator that laminate (with or without a mounting board) up to a thickness of 1/8”.
You will find that many machines can laminate a good range of pouch thicknesses, like the PL4A 3.75” Pouch Laminator that can accommodate laminating pouches up to 10-mil thick and is designed for heavy-duty use.
What other features should I look for in a pouch laminator?
After you cover the basics of what your pouch laminator definitely needs to have to cover your range of applications, there are also other features that can really enhance your projects and make your pouch laminator even easier to use.
- Reverse Function: This feature allows you to easily clear pouch jams or remove them for realignment.
- Variable Speed/Temperature Controls: If you can adjust your speed or temperature, you have more control for varying pouch thicknesses and laminating materials. Machines that have variable temperatures will often offer a cold setting, which allows you to use self-sealing pouches for your heat-sensitive materials.
- Silicon Rollers: The more recently designed pouch laminators are equipped with silicon rollers. This is a benefit because these machines do not usually require a pouch carrier, and your laminating pouches are less likely to get stuck in the rollers.
- Independent Heat and Motor Switches: If you buy a heavy-duty pouch laminator for high-volumes of applications, independent heat and motor switches can save you a lot of time. They allow you to leave the laminator on for long periods of time, in-between applications, without taxing the motor or wearing down the rollers.
These features are not a must in a good quality pouch laminator, but they can make your laminating projects run a lot smoother and can be found in all types of pouch laminators for every range of applications. For example, the SircleLam HQ-230 9” Pouch Laminator is designed to laminate small, low-volume projects, but it offers temperature options, including a cold setting, and a reverse mode.
Overall, the most important suggestion we can make before you purchase a pouch laminator is to seriously consider what your needs are. Also take into consideration your budget, warranty options, and the size of the laminating machine to find one that is ideal for your situation. After determining the answers to the above questions and shopping around, feel free to call one of our World Class Customer Care Representatives with any questions at 1-800-399-2564.