A laminator (or laminating machine) is a device used to seal documents with a protective layer of plastic film on both sides. However, some laminators do not necessarily use plastic film to protect documents. Regardless of the machine you choose, the purpose of the plastic film is to strengthen, protect, and prolong the life of the document in question.
On the question of how a laminator works, the answer will depend on the type of machine in question. That’s because different types of laminators use different methods in the lamination process. It could be liquid lamination, high-temperature lamination, low-temperature lamination, thermal lamination, or pressure-sensitive lamination. Different types of documents can be laminated, including identification cards, credit cards, and photographs. After lamination, the documents are protected from fading, wrinkling, creasing, staining, and exposure to moisture.
The following are three of the most common ways in which laminators work.
How Does a Porch Laminator Work?
This type of laminator uses lamination pouches, which have one of their sides sealed. On the inside of the pouch is a film, which is activated by heat to stick on documents as they are run through the device. One of the sides of the board holds a substrate and an adhesive that is activated by heat to enable bonding between the substrate and the document.
The board can be sourced from different manufacturers, which means you aren’t tied down to a particular product. As it goes through heated rollers, the lamination pouch would be carrying the substrate, laminate, and print. The pressure is applied to the items until they seamlessly bond together.
You can buy a pouch laminator for home or office use. The pouches are usually measured in terms of their thickness (which is in micrometers). Most machines use pouches of thickness between 80 and 250 micrometers. As such, high-quality machines would make use of thicker pouches.
However, to buy thicker pouches, you should be prepared to pay much more than their thinner counterparts. It is important to ensure that the pouch you buy can fit into the machine. You may want to buy a machine with a carrier to prevent adhesive leakage and sticky rollers. That’s important when it comes to extending the life of the laminator.
How Does A Heated Roll Laminator Work?
Using heated rollers, a heated roll laminator melts the glue on the lamination film to laminate a document. After melting the glue, the machine applies the lamination film onto a substrate, usually a card or paper.
A heat roller laminator is great for embellishing or protecting documents from possible damage. Depending on the size, these laminators can be used at home or in the office.
To laminate documents, a heated roll laminator requires two rolls of film. Thus, a roll is placed on top and another one under the document to be laminated. As the machine begins to work, the film rolls onto mandrels (or specialized metal bars) and then allowed to feed through the machine. Due to the effect of heat, the laminating films would stick together in all the places in which they come into contact.
The thickness of lamination films ranges between 1.5 mils and 10 mils (1mil = 1/1000 inches). In terms of width, the largest films will range between 25 to 27 inches. These are used in industrial laminators, which undertake high quantities of work. They are used to laminate postcards, cards, posters, magazine covers, and book covers.
How Do Cold Roll Laminators Work?
Like the other types of laminators, these particular devices also use adhesive-coated plastic film to protect documents from damage. The films have glossy backing that does not stick to the glue. Removing this backing exposes the glue so that it can get stuck on the item being laminated.
Since the glue is ready to stick, it doesn’t require a machine that produces heat. It is also cost-effective and great for items that are likely to be damaged by heat. In most cases, the film is made from PVC, even though there exist other types of materials.
Cold laminators are great when it comes to protecting documents produced by inkjet printers. That’s because the paper used in these printers is lighter and can be damaged by laminators that rely on heat. Cold laminators are the cheapest to use.
At the very simplest, they could be nothing more than simple machines with two rollers. However, there exist bigger machines with electric motors. It is possible to adjust the roller pressure to get the results you are looking for. The machines can be used to protect documents or for various industrial applications. For example, coating stainless steel and sheet glass with protective films.
As you can see, a laminator may work in different ways depending on what it was designed to do. For that reason, you should bear in mind the purpose of a particular machine before buying it.