Pouch LaminatorsAt Office Zone, we sell several different models of pouch laminators (found here). Some are designed for entry level use where others are ideal for commercial-level applications. So how do you know what kind of laminator you need and what features should you look for in a good laminator? I have over a decade of experience using laminators and would like to share a few features I would look for if I were shopping for a pouch laminator.

Keep in mind, these aren’t all going to be features you need in a laminator. If you need a laminator simply for home crafts and projects, many of these features won’t be necessary. If you are a business, however, and need to laminate a lot of stuff, many of these features will be critical.

  • Ample Width – One of the most important things to consider when buying a laminator is the maximum laminating width. I will just say you don’t want to get close to the maximum capacity on your laminator. I have spoken with many people who purchased an 11″ laminator to be used with an 11″ pouch. While technically (and on paper) it is possible, you are going to have so little clearance on the sides that you will have to feed the pouch in perfectly to avoid jamming issues. Be sure you have at least ¼” clearance on each side of the pouch.
  • Mil Capabilities – I like having the ability to laminate film up to 10 mils thick. If you are a business, you probably will too. If you’re a home user, something up to 5 mils will probably be sufficient. Just be sure you are aware of the mil thickness capabilities of the laminator before you purchase it. A laminator with a 5 mil capacity won’t be able to properly heat up and seal a 10 mil pouch.
  • Reverse Capabilities – I love having a reverse switch on my laminator. If you see the pouch is beginning to veer off course, it is very nice to be able to throw that laminator into reverse and back the pouch out before a catastrophic jam occurs. Without that reverse switch, you will end up having to shut the laminator off and open it up to remove the poorly fed pouch.
  • Independent Motor & Heat – If you use your laminator a lot, and want to prevent premature motor wear, you really need to have separate switches for the motor and the heat. This way you can keep the laminator warmed up and ready to go, but without the motor running. Many laminators hook up the heat and motor to the same switch.
  • Adjustable Temperature – Having the ability to adjust the temperature gives you the ability to use a wide variety of pouches and glue types. This flexibility is especially nice for people laminating temperature sensitive items or using low-melt film. It also helps you to dial in the best settings for the mil thickness you are using. Remember, not all brands of film are made equal.
  • Temperature Shielding – Laminators get hot, very hot. They literally house heating elements that reach temperatures you might find on an oven range. For that reason, be sure you get a laminator that properly shields you from the heat. Most manufacturers do a good job of this, but you don’t want a laminator that is hot to the touch at peak temperature.
  • Carrier Capabilities – I will be honest, I don’t care if the laminator says it does not need carriers. I use a carrier anyway unless the manufacturer specifically states you should not. Carriers prolong the life of your laminator, period. For that reason, I don’t personally care if the laminator does or does not require a carrier. I would almost prefer that it does require it.

I hope these comments and suggestions help you in your pursuit of a high-quality laminator. If you are in search of a good brand, I can say that I am very impressed with Laminators Specialties (formerly Banner American) and Akiles. Tamerica and Intelli-Lam also make some nice higher-end laminators. Please give us a call at 1-800-543-5454 with any questions. We would love to help you out. If you have some additional feedback or advice regarding shopping for a pouch laminator, please leave it here in a comment. I would love to hear from you.

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