Posted by: James on July 26th, 2011
If you laminate photos, business cards, signs and other material, you’re going to need a reliable and durable laminating machine. One key quality you will want in your laminator is a well-built metal design. Few laminators in the $100 offer this feature. One laminator that provides excellent build quality along with a great price is the Intelli-Lam IL300 pouch laminating machine. This is my review.
To begin with, I have personally used a variety of different Intelli-Lam pouch laminators, which includes the IL300. Few laminators, including Akiles, Banner American, Fellowes an GBC come close to offering the amount of features you get with Intelli-Lam for the price. Intelli-Zone, the manufacturer of Intelli-Lam, also makes Intelli-Bind, Intelli-Fold and Intelli-Shred office machines.
Upon first glance, the IL300 looks like a solid piece of equipment. Looks aren’t everything though, so I decided to pick it up and get a feel for the machine. The IL300 has some heft to it. This is due in part to the fact that a good portion of the materials used in the IL300′s construction are metal. Even the housing is metal. It reminded me a lot of the Akiles ProLam series of laminators.
Another important feature you want in a good office laminator is multiple rollers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Intelli-Lam IL300 has 4 rollers. These rollers help evenly distribute pressure and heat for excellent results. Have you ever had to re-feed a pouch through a laminator because you didn’t get good results the first time? This is not the case with the IL300. Results look great the first time.
Using the laminator is easy. Simply plug it in and turn it on. It about 10 minutes or so the laminator is completely warmed up and ready to go. A green indicator light will let you know when it is ready to be used.
An adjustable temperature dial makes it easy for even the biggest laminating enthusiast to get great results. Unlike most laminators in the $100 range (the IL300 at the time of this article is $102), the IL300 can be used with film as thick as 10 mils!
In case you’re not familiar with laminating pouches, they come in 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses. A mil is a thousandth of an inch (0.001″). The higher the mil thickness, the thicker the pouch. Most $100 laminators cannot handle anything thicker than 5 mils.
Another huge plus on the IL300 is the reverse switch. In the even that you feed a pouch in crooked, or a jam occurs, you can flip the motor into reverse and back the pouch back out. If for any reason the reverse motor cannot release the jam, four screws can easily be removed on the cover to allow easy access to the inner components.
One concern I have heard from customers is that the power light is on all the time. There is no need to be alarmed. When the laminator is plugged in, an LED does light up, but the heat and motor are off. It is essentially in standby mode until you flip the laminator switch to “on.”
The motor in the IL300 is so quiet barely even notice it is on. This is ideal for office laminating situations. A person can easily use this laminator on their desk without annoying fellow employees.
This laminator is affordable enough for home use, yet durable enough for office use. I see no reason why you cannot use this laminator all day long. It is a solid piece of machinery and I had a great experience using it.
You can find the Intelli-Lam IL300 pouch laminating machine here and our entire selection of pouch laminators here.
Posted by: James on July 7th, 2011
If you own, run or use a pouch laminating machine on a regular basis, you’re probably well aware of the fact that these machines require film to run properly. This film is often referred to as laminating sheets or pouches (found here). So which type of laminating pouch should you use with your machine? I will cover some basic questions that should set you on the right path.
To begin with, laminating sheets come in a variety of different shapes and thicknesses. The thickness of a pouch is referred to as a mil. A mil is a thousandth of an inch or 0.001″. The higher the mil, the thicker the pouch. The thicker the pouch, the more stability and rigidity the pouch has.
Before you settle on any given mil thickness of pouch, be sure you are familiar with your pouch laminator’s limitations. Most pouch laminators can handle 3 and 5 mil pouches. Seven and 10 mil pouches are thicker and thus require a laminator capable of handling the additional glue and material. I would estimate about 35% of pouch laminators can handle a 10 mil pouch.
Which mil thickness is most popular? I get this question all the time. People want something that looks good, works with their laminator and gets the “results” they are looking for. I have found in my own personal experience that a 5 mil pouch is the most popular thickness available.
A 5 mil thickness is universally accepted by most laminators, can still be used to coat and protect photos, documents, cards and more. A 5 mil pouch has a nice blend of flexibility while maintaining enough stability not to be “floppy.”
While laminating sheets and pouches are available in several different finishes, a clear glossy finish is by far the most popular style of pouch available. The glossy finish reflects light and has a slick texture and feel to it. Over 90% of available pouches are glossy.
At Office Zone we offer 3,5, 7 and 10 mil pouches in a variety of sizes. These sizes are as follows:
Standard-Size Glossy Laminating Pouches (found here)
- 2 1/4″ x 3 3/4″ (Business Card)
- 2 1/8″ x 3 3/8″ (Credit Card)
- 2 3/8″ x 3 5/8″ (Driver’s License)
- 2 5/16″ x 3 1/4″ (IBM)
- 2 1/2″ x 3 7/8″ (Key Card)
- 2 5/8″ x 3 7/8″ (Military)
- 2 1/2″ x 3 5/8″ (School Card)
- 2 15/16″ x 4 1/8″ (Jumbo)
- 2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ (Luggage Tag w/o Slot)
- 2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ (Luggage Tag w/ Slot)
- 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ (Index Card)
- 3 15/16″ x 5 11/16″ (Circulation Card)
- 3 9/16″ x 5 5/16″ (Post Card)
- 3 15/16″ x 6 7/8″ (Extra Circulation)
- 4″ x 6″
Large-Size Glossy Laminating Pouches (found here)
- 6″ x 9″ Laminating Sheets
- 9″ x 11 ½” Laminating Sheets
- 9″ x 14 ½” Laminating Sheets
- 12″ x 18″ Laminating Sheets
When picking a size of pouch, be sure your laminator can properly accommodate the size. I have seen people purchase a 12″ pouch for their 12″ laminator. Because there is so little room for error, jams are frequent. When a pouch is fed into a laminator, any deviance in the alignment, even by 1/16″ of an inch, will result in increased deviation as the lamination film makes its way through the machine.
If for any reason a jam does occur, don’t try to fish the laminating film out using scissors, a knife or other sharp objects. This can result in damaged silicon rollers which will affect our laminating results. If you have a serious jam, please feel free to contact our Service Department at 1-800-543-5454 x129 for advice on fixing the problem.
You can find our entire selection of laminating sheets and pouches here and our wide selection of pouch laminators here. Good luck and happy laminating!