Tips for finding the perfect laminating machine and sleevesTips for purchases

Pictures, business cards, signalization sheets, etc. Several documents live longer with a protective laminated cover. However, it is not always easy to find a device and laminating sleeves that completely meet your requirements.

The following tips will definitely help you to make the right choice !

Why should you laminate your documents?

This is a summary of all the reasons that show the usefulness of lamination:

  • It protects your documents against dirt, humidity, tear, etc. They are always in a perfect condition, even after a long use.
  • It reinforces your documents and they have a better resistance, even at frequent use.
  • It secures your information : thanks to its irreversible character, it is not possible to change the content of the documents.
  • It improves the look of your documents by adding relief and gloss. Not even one fold will be visible. It is the perfect way to obtain a stylish effect.

Which documents can be laminated ?

Whether you are at home or at work, there are always several documents that can be laminated:

  • At the office: sales arguments, business cards, badges, manuals, catalogues, instructions, signalization sheets, menus, posters, covers for presentations, plans, etc.
  • At home : pictures, drawings, certificates, luggage labels, recipes, plans, ads, greeting cards, paper for tinkering, etc.

The different laminating types : what is the difference ?

There are two laminating methods:

Warm lamination

A device for lamination consists of different rolls and a heating system (heating rolls, plate or block). When the sleeve slides through the device, the heating system lets the glue melt inside the sleeve. The glue is spread over the whole surface of the document and sticks to it after cooling down. In this way, it is impossible to detach the sleeve from the document.

The temperature of the device varies according to the thickness of the sleeve: the more rigid the sleeve, the higher the necessary temperature. Depending on the different models, you need to adjust the temperature manually, or this happens automatically. Furthermore, there are some models that combine the functions warm and cold lamination.

Most devices for warm lamination require pre-cut sleeves, made to measure of the document. Nevertheless, there exist some professional models that accept rolls, for continuous use.

Cold lamination

A device for cold lamination consists of different rolls that attach the sleeve to the document by adding pressure. Most devices are compatible with plastic rolls in stead of separated sleeves. They are particularly designed for laminating documents that must not be be exposed to high temperatures (e.g. water-based prints or special ink types).

What are the selection criteria for an adequate laminating machine?

First, you need to think of the nature of the documents that you want to laminate. This makes it easier to determine which sizes and thicknesses are necessary.

The size of the documents

A laminating machine for size A3 allows you to laminate documents up to size A3 (29,7 x 42 cm), but also documents with a smaller size (e.g. A4). A laminator for A4 size is compatible with documents in size A4 (21 x 29,7 cm), but also in smaller sizes.

The thickness of the sleeves

It swings between 2 x 75 micron and 2 x 250 micron. The final choice depends on the desired use. If a laminator is compatible with sleeves of 2 x 250 micron, it can also be used for all sleeves with a lower thickness. This rule is not valid the other way around.

The frequency of use

The heating time can be higher than 5 minutes for sporadic use. For a more frequent or intense use, we recommend you to opt for a device with a heating time between 1 and 3 minutes.

The volume of documents for lamination

If the volume is rather low (less than 10 documents), the lamination speed may turn around 60 seconds for an A4 document. For a particularly higher volume (more than 10 documents), we advise you to opt for a device of which the speed for an A4 document equals to 25 seconds.

Useful tip : you will sometimes hear a sound signal when the sleeve hasn’t been inserted correctly. In this case, you need to push on the reverse switch, in order to pull out the sleeve.

How do you pick out the right laminating sleeves?

It is important to find a product that is compatible with your laminator, for an optimal result. First, you need to verify if your device accepts rolls or sleeves, than you check out if it is a model for warm or cold lamination. Unfortunately, this not enough. There are some other criteria with a large influence :

The size of the documents for lamination

Documents come in several sizes : credit card (5,4 x 8,6 cm), business card (5,9 x 8,3 and 6 x 9 cm), magnetic card (6,5 x 9,5 cm), luggage label, A7 (7,4 x 10,5 cm), A6 (10,5 x 14,8 cm), A5 (14,8 x 21 cm), A4 (21 x 29,7 cm), A3 (29,7 x 42 cm) and A2 (42 x 59,4 cm).

The use

If you want to be sure your document doesn’t deteriorate, it is important to adapt the thickness of your sleeve to its desired use.

Its use will also determine if it is preferred to choose for sleeves with a glossy or a frosted finish.

Most sleeves are glossy and can be applied for a lot of affairs.

Despite the previous statement, it is a good idea to consider the application of frosted sleeves, when you want to use them in sunny or brightly illuminated environments. Frosted sleeves are non-reflecting, which makes it easier to read the content. Finger prints are neither visible on this type of finish. Moreover, it is possible to right on them with a felt-tip pen and they are washable. This type of sleeve is very popular for laminating menu cards and pictures.

The type of laminator

Obviously, you first need to verify the characteristics of your device before you buy a certain type of sleeves. These characteristics will determine if the sleeves are compatible or not.

When your laminator is designed for sleeves with maximum size in A4, it will as well be compatible with smaller sizes.

When your laminator is designed for sleeves with a maximum thickness of 2 x 250 micron, you can use it also for less thicker sleeves. On the other hand, if you use a thicker sleeve in the laminator, there is a chance it gets stuck, your document is damaged and the sleeve isn’t glued perfectly to the document.

The specific characteristics

  • Perforated sleeves: if you want to put your laminated documents in a lever arch file, you better choose for sleeves with perforation.
  • Self-adhesive sleeves : if you want to hang up your documents on a wall or attach them to a support (folder, box, palette), you better opt for sleeves with a self-adhesive back. These sleeves can be sticked on every smooth surface (walls, windows, doors, showcases, etc.).
  • Express sleeves : for an extra gain of time, you can choose for sleeves whose longer side must be entered first into the laminator (and not the more common, shorter side). This type of sleeves is only available in size A4. Your document will be laminated 40% faster than with a regular sleeve.
  • Sleeves with arrows : an arrow is indicated on some sleeves, in order to show the direction in which the sleeve must be inserted into the laminator. This arrow disappears when the sleeve passes through the device.

Useful tip: there also exist sleeves for manual lamination. You don’t need any device for this procedure.

Frequently asked questions

In which direction do I need to insert the sleeve into the laminator ?

It is important to insert the sleeve into the machine via the side that will be welded. An arrow is indicated on some sleeves, in order to show the direction in which the sleeve must be entered. This arrow disappears when the sleeve passes through the device.

Is a laminated document protected from the sun?

Laminating sleeves react as a kind a filter and absorb a part of the UV radiation. Hereby, the damaging effect of the sun will be partially reduced and slown down. A complete exclusion, though, is not possible.

Can you cut the laminating sleeves?

There is no objection for this, but you must wait until the document is laminated and has cooled down. It is also necessary to leave a plastic border around the document.

Is it possible to detach the sleeve once your document is laminated?

No, this is impossible. Lamination is always definite.