What Is A Laminator And Why Do You Need One

What Is A Laminator And Why Do You Need One

A laminator is a machine which is used to laminate many different kinds of items. Lamination is a process in which an item is coated in a substance which makes it more rigid and more resistant to damage and adverse conditions.

Laminators can function in many different ways, but they all serve the same basic function. Laminating and better preserving anything from documents to photos to cards. You can even use a laminator for school projects and work, making it a very versatile machine depending on your needs.

Why Laminate?

There are many reasons why you should laminate your paper and other documents. One of the main reasons is that it greatly increases the durability of your items. Paper is a pretty weak material that can easily be damaged. If you would like to ensure that something remains undamaged, lamination is the best move.

The first thing that lamination protects your documents from is damage over time. Since paper must be preserved to ensure that it does not fade and crack over time, lamination is an excellent way to increase the lifespan of your documents.

Laminator used on a magazine.

Beyond simple lifespan, lamination also has several other advantages. One of these advantages is increased resistance to the elements. If you are a little bit on the clumsy side, perhaps laminating your documents will prolong their lifespan by protecting them from accidental spillage.

Lamination will also protect a document that is meant to be posted up in a public space. If you have an announcement for an office or school, you can expect it to be exposed to many people, and paper tends to lose its integrity when many people touch it. Lamination is a way to ensure that your paper will stay in one piece even if it is used heavily.

Another related point to paper being placed in a public space is that lamination will increase the weather resistance of your paper. If it is to be exposed to the elements, wind and rain will quickly wear down your announcement, so you must ensure that it is laminated if you want it to last longer than a few days.

One of the best reasons for using a laminator is that it greatly reduces the likelihood of rips. A laminated piece of paper will be almost impossible to rip. The closest thing to ripping a laminated paper that's possible is if you take a pair of scissors to it, so you do not have to worry about the durability of your laminated items.

How To Use A Laminator

Depending on the type of laminator you own, this process may vary, but most laminators function in a broadly similar manner. This will be a step-by-step guide to using your laminator.

Turn on your laminator and let it warm up. The warmup time may vary between 1 to 10 minutes, depending on the efficiency of your laminator's heating components.

You must now select the thickness of your document. If you are using a pouch model, the thickness generally varies from 3 to 7 mils, which can vary further on my specialized models.

Once your laminator has finished warming up, you will likely see an indicator, such as a green light or an auditory cue that it is ready to laminate.

Man using a laminator.

Depending on the type of laminator you are using, you may have to place your item inside the lamination pouch. Once inside, seal the pouch and your item should be ready to laminate.

Feed the item or the pouch into your laminator and then wait for the lamination process to be complete. Most laminator function at a speed around 1 foot per minute, but higher quality products may double that speed.

It helps to keep an eye on your document as it laminates just in case it gets jammed. Certain laminator models feature a jam release button or lever to ensure that your item does not get stuck in the machine. After clearing the jam, either reposition it or try again with another copy of the document.

Take care once your document comes out of the laminator as it may be hot depending on the process of your machine.

Once your item has gone completely through your laminator, the next step typically depends on your model of machine. Most machines will require you to stop the lamination process and then cut the document out, either with scissors or with an automated mechanism built into the machine.

Depending on the quality of your laminator, you may have to cut away excess film from the edges of your document to get a smoothly laminated item.

Types Of Laminators

There are many subtypes of laminators. The kind that you will need will depend on your preferences and your budget. It is important to try and get a laminator that does the most for the least amount of money.

Roll Laminators

Roll laminators function on a larger scale than other forms of laminators. They are typically used for industrial applications such as lamination of a large number of items. Generally, these laminators will be used by schools and offices, due to the need for a larger lamination capacity.

Roll laminator.

There are also smaller scale roll laminators, though they are less common than other types due to the convenience of using other types of laminators for smaller scale jobs. A roll laminator function by using rolls of lamination film and applying the film to the document by putting it through these rolls.

Pouch Laminators

Pouch laminators are the most common form of home laminator thanks to their low price and their relatively simple method of operation. A pouch laminator typically makes use of a method to exert pressure on your document combined with heat to attach the lamination film to your item.

Pouch laminators do not always use heat to apply the lamination material, however. Some pouch laminators make use of self-adhesive pouches to ensure that the film sticks through pressure alone.

While these are useful, most pouch laminators still make use of heat in the lamination process since it is far more convenient and it results in a less complex product. A less complex product will necessarily be more affordable. This is why pouch laminators are ideal if you are working on a budget.

Pouch laminator.

Pouch laminators are also simple to use compared to other types of laminator, so they are a good choice for customers who are new to home lamination.

Cold Laminators

There are many advantages to cold lamination, the primary reason to opt for a cold laminator is because you want to laminate items which are sensitive to heat. This can include photographs and other official documents which are made of heat sensitive paper.

Since the inside of laminators can get rather hot, the process of lamination can result in ink running and the paper becoming damaged. Unfortunately, since cold lamination is more difficult than hot lamination, a cold laminator will necessarily be more difficult to build and design than a hot laminator.

The higher complexity involved in building a cold laminator results in increased buying price and makes them less common. Finding a cold laminator which fits your needs and budget will likely be more difficult than finding a typical heat based pouch laminator.

The choice between a cold laminator and a hot laminator depends entirely on the items you hope to laminate, so your choice should be based on that aspect.

Dual-Function Laminators

There are also laminators that give you the choice between hot and cold functionality. Due to the added complexity of laminators which function in such a manner, they are typically more expensive than other options.

The advantage to these laminators is that they are capable of laminating any item you please in the most efficient manner possible. Since heat laminators are typically faster and more reliable than the process of cold lamination, it is advantageous to have the choice.

Laminators of this type are typically a subcategory of pouch laminators, but they occupy a middle ground between that type and cold laminators. While they are more expensive, they are an excellent choice for those with a large budget for their laminators.


There are many specifications that are important to laminators. We will give a short rundown of some of the more crucial characteristics in this section.

Laminating Speed

One of the more critical aspects of a laminator is the amount of time that it takes to laminate your inserted document. This depends on several aspects of the laminator, but no characteristic is more crucial to your laminator's usage time than the speed at which it laminates.

The laminating speed is typically expressed in either inches per minute or feet per minute, and a typical mid-range model will work somewhere in the range of 0.7 to 1.5 feet per minute. The speed will vary based on the quality of your laminator's mechanism.

Warmup Time

The next aspect which is related to the speed at which you may laminate is the amount of time it takes your laminator to warm up. This is typically only applicable to hot laminators, but you may find that cold laminators take a few moments to be ready to function as well.

Once again, warmup time will only be a deciding factor if you often find that time is crucial when laminating. You will typically want a faster laminator if you are working at a school or an office, where things can be a little more time sensitive than they would be at home or in another situation.


The maximum width of a document that can be used in your laminator is another aspect that you should pay close attention to.

This is important because your laminator will be unusable with any document which is larger than the maximum usable width of your laminator.

Wide laminator.

Width is one of the characteristics which adds a very large amount of versatility to your product. Since you will be able to use it with far more documents and items, it will be far more useful to you if you envision yourself laminating a large number of documents.

Jam Release

A laminator which features a jam release lever is very convenient if you want to be able to easily clear out jammed documents without having to power down your laminator. This ensures that you are able to either replace the document or start the process over again, depending on the damage sustained by your document and pouch.


If you want to make sure that your laminator will consume the minimum amount of energy, you should opt for a model which features an auto-shutoff function. This ensures that your laminator shuts down after a predetermined period of inactivity. Depending on the model, the time it takes for your laminator to shut down can range from 15 minutes to an hour.

This is also a safety feature, as a hot laminator left unattended can become a fire hazard and a safety hazard in case there are overly curious children in the home. This will also improve the lifespan of your laminator as it will last far longer if it is not left on for a long period of time.

This feature is generally found in higher quality models of laminator, but this is not always the case. Auto-shutoff functions are becoming more and more common as manufacturers realize the importance of additional safety functions.


There are many manufacturers to choose from when it comes to a laminator. Many of these companies manufacture similar products with small differences between them. Your choice will often depend on which design options you prefer. No matter which brand you buy from, you’ll get a good laminator.


The ubiquitous manufacturer of Scotch Tape also makes laminators. More specifically, their parent company 3M is involved in manufacturing many products related to laminates, adhesives, abrasives and many other goods. Due to the broad similarities between lamination pouches and adhesives, their laminators are sold under the same brand as their famous tape.

Since Scotch is an established company, you can be sure that your laminator will be of high quality. While Scotch manufactures effective products, they also make very affordable models of laminators. If you are trying to find a laminator for home use that won't break the bank, you will very likely prefer a Scotch brand product.

The best part about Scotch laminators is that they tend to feature the most affordable products without sacrificing anything in terms of features or build quality. There's nothing worse than finding a good deal on a product to find that it is actually made of low quality components that will break in a few days. Thankfully, this is not the case with Scotch brand models.

Scotch laminator.
Royal Sovereign Photo and Document Laminator.

Royal Sovereign

Royal Sovereign International is a company from the USA that specializes in many types of products. From air conditioners to coin sorters to laminators, you will find that Royal Sovereign dabbles in all sorts of products. This, however, does not mean that their laminators are not of high quality.

Royal Sovereign focuses on manufacturing pouch laminators instead of other types. However, they manufacture both hot pouch laminators and cold pouch laminators, allowing you to find a product which is applicable for many different types of documents.

Royal Sovereign tends to focus on user accessibility over other aspects when making their laminators. This makes Royal Sovereign products ideal for those who are new to using laminators. If you are worried about messing up your lamination job on your first attempt, you will find that these laminators are perfect for your needs.

While Royal Sovereign focuses on user accessibility, this does not necessarily mean that they neglect other aspects of their products. In fact, Royal Sovereign is known to make reliable and durable models of laminator that will function regardless of conditions. When it comes to user accessibility and reliability, Royal Sovereign is an excellent choice of manufacturer.


Fellowes Brands is one of the longer lasting manufacturers of office equipment such as laminators and paper shredders. If you prefer to purchase a laminator from a company that specializes in that specific subcategory of products, they will be a good choice.

You can rest assured that a company like Fellowes manufactures high-quality laminators since that is one of their main focuses in terms of products. Fellowes has been around since 1917, so they must be doing something right after all of this time. For high-quality office goods, there are few better options.

Fellowes typically focuses on the safety aspect of their laminators. If you have children or pets in your home and you would like to minimize the risk of burns and fires, a Fellowes product may be the ideal choice for you.

While Fellowes products may focus highly on safety, this in no way means that they trade off user friendliness and convenience. Their products are still rather easy to use, even for beginners.

Fellowes Laminator Saturn3i 125 front view.
GBC laminator.


GBC is another manufacturer which specializes in the production of office supplies and binding equipment. The acronym GBC stands for General Binding Corporation, which is fitting, considering their specialties are both binding and lamination.

This means that you needn't worry about the quality of your laminator as they have been producing such products for quite some time.

This company has been in operation since 1947, so they are certainly experienced when it comes to manufacturing office supplies. Their main focus is typically on efficiency and speed. You will find that GBC laminators are some of the most efficient products you will find in this category.

Their speed and efficiency make for an excellent product when it comes to an office laminator that will typically be used by a larger number of people.

Purple Cows

Purple Cows is a British company which specializes in stationery and office supplies. Do not let the silly name fool you, Purple Cows is an excellent manufacturer of laminators, printers and other machines which are very useful in an office setting.

Purple Cows laminators tend to focus on a combination of affordability and user friendliness. This makes them ideal for first-time buyers of laminators. Even if you are already accustomed to using a laminator, however, they are still very effective products.

Most Purple Cows products also include additional features, such as jam releases and auto shutdown functionality. These ensure that these products are both safe and efficient without hampering functionality in any way.

Purple Cows Hot And Cold Laminator Review

Maintenance And Cleaning

Most types of laminators are quite simple to clean. If you are trying to clean a roll laminator, you will have to remove the roll of film, heat up the machine and run the roller on the lowest speed. Once the machine is warmed up and rolling, you can start to clean off any substance that remains inside the machine with a laminator cleaner.

In the case of cold laminators, it is even easier, you must simply disassemble the machine, and clean it. Cold laminators typically have less gunk and dirt inside of them than other types of laminator, but it is still a good idea to clean them somewhat regularly.


As you can see, there is more than one would expect to laminators. They are in reality fascinating pieces of equipment that can be very useful in several applications, regardless of whether you are working in an office or at school. They are also effective for home use, since lamination can be useful at home as well.

Purple laminator used on paper.

Now that we have given a general overview of laminators, their history, and their features, we will move on to our buying guide. In our buying guide, we will take a closer look at individual products which come highly recommended in this category.

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