The 10 Best Laminators
10. Swingline 5100L
- optimizes speed based on thickness
- automatically reverses if it jams
- some units burn out quickly
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
9. TruLam TL-320B
- four silicone rollers
- good value for the price
- doesn't always produce desired heat
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
8. Black and Decker LAM95
- built-in punch for rounding corners
- integrated cord storage
- prone to crimping
|Brand||Black and Decker Office|
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
7. Purple Cows 3016c
- no need to adjust heat settings
- works with third party pouches
- difficult to remove jammed material
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
6. Scotch TL901SC
- ships with two thermal pouches
- one-year limited warranty
- not suitable for high volume use
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
5. Xyron EZLaminator 624672
- pouch-free drop-in cartridge design
- includes 15 feet of material
- cold seal is a bit weak
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
4. Amazon Basics PL9-US
- warms up in four minutes
- release lever for easy jam clearing
- impressively quiet
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
3. Scotch Pro Thermal
- easy for all ages to operate
- indicator light signals readiness
- feeding tray folds down for storage
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
2. Blusmart OL288
- available in black or white
- built-in trimmer and corner rounder
- can create perforated and wavy edges
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
1. Fellowes Saturn3i 125
- allows for pausing to re-center
- beeps when it's hot enough
- backed by a two-year warranty
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
Protecting Memories And Information
Paper is considered a fragile item, depending on how thick it is. It can rip, tear, burn and scratch easily. Imagine that you've just brought home a few years' worth of precious family photos developed from the film in your camera. You set them on the table and accidentally spill water all over the surface of the table, which soaks right into the photos. Unfortunately, the photographs will never look the same again. Wouldn't it be nice to have a device that could protect these and other vulnerable paper products from accidents like this? Whether the intention is to preserve memories, protect documents, or make them attractive for advertising, a laminator will be needed to get the job done.
Lamination refers to a technique through which a composite material is produced in layers for improved strength, appearance, durability, or insulation. The product of this technique is referred to as a laminate, which is created as a result of heat, pressure, and adhesives. Laminate materials will vary depending on the object. When laminating a poster, for example, sheets of clear plastic film can be used on either side of the poster to increase its strength and protect it from damage. Materials like glass, used to construct car windshields, are also laminated with a heavy plastic film sandwiched between two layers of glass. This protects the driver from shattering in the event of an accident. Our primary focus is on paper laminators.
Laminator machines are either hot or cold and leverage differently-sized pouches made from plastic film with special adhesives for binding to the materials placed inside them. Hot laminators are the most common with heated plates or rollers through which the pouches are fed. These pouches are sealed on one side and feature heat-activated adhesives that bond to the materials being laminated as they are fed through the machine. The pouches are sometimes stored in a protective card stock that prevents direct contact with the hot rollers inside the machine. By contrast, a cold laminator is ideal for materials that may be more sensitive or prone to damage by heat. Cold pouch laminators leverage the pressure from their rollers to activate the adhesive inside the pouch. This can even be accomplished without electricity using a turn-style crank to feed the pouch and material through the machine.
Laminators And Legacy
Although the process of lamination for insulating existed as early as the mid-1800s, paper laminators became more popular by the 1930s for archival purposes to strengthen fragile documents. Among the first organizations to embrace this process were the United States National Archives and Library of Congress due to their size and large budgets. The process involved de-acidifying a document, layering it between tissue and thin sheets of plastic, and fusing those elements together in a heated press.
Those businesses lacking the resources, money, and equipment to laminate their documents often turned to these large organizations for their needs. The process was eventually considered a panacea (or major solution) to all prior issues related to the fragility of paper with respect to archiving and preservation.
Along with the continued development of the lamination process throughout the twentieth century came a series of inventors for refining the technology. American chemist William Barrow developed both an effective means of de-acidifying paper as well as the first practical roller-type laminator in which brittle documents were laminated between tissue and cellulose acetate film. Barrow was considered one of the most important contributors to the achievement of permanence and durability with archival materials still used today.
Choosing A Laminator Wisely
What are some of the most practical applications for a laminator? For a business or office setting, it prepares a variety of materials, including business cards, signs, and posters. The lamination process can make a poster advertisement stick out and draw attention from customers or colleagues. It also makes the material appear more professional than it would look by itself coming from a conventional color laser printer.
Lamination is ideal for archiving information, both for security and posterity. It's a given to laminate photos or identification cards for preservation, but the process also lends itself well to maps and continuing education material for teaching purposes. Laminating a map, for example, means that it can be used over and over by many students without being lost or damaged. The text is also easy to read.
When choosing a laminator, one must determine its application and the volume of work that may need to be fed through the machine. Different types of office settings and documents will require a variety of needs, so the machine must be able to support them. For example, if one's business laminates many large posters or documents for presentations, then a large consideration should be the size of the rollers or plates used, the thickness of the machine, and the sensitivity of the documents requiring this technology.
If you're dealing with a lot of delicate content that is intended for archiving, then a cold laminator may be a good choice so there is no risk of damaging the materials. By contrast, if your intention is to laminate a lot of small materials quickly and constantly, then a hot laminator will do the trick.
The best laminators feature interactive user displays for easy adjustments and audible alerts to let you know a job is complete.
One must also ensure the laminator's rollers and motor are durable enough to run materials through the throat of the unit without jamming, which is particularly important for busy office and school environments requiring constant use of the device.