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Featuers To Look For In A Pouch Laminator

Posted by: James on January 18th, 2013

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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What is Mil Thickness and Which is Best to Use?

Posted by: James on December 14th, 2012

Lamination Film Mil ThicknessIf you’re shopping for lamination film (found here), you undoubtedly have come across the term mil thickness. It is a critical part of the lamination film selection process. If you’re new to lamination, or simply want some clarification, I will explain exactly what a mil is and how many mils you should have in your film.

A mil is a measurement of thickness, much like gauge and microns is used to measure the thickness of other products. A mil is exactly a thousandth of an inch (0.001″). This measurement method is used in the United States to measure the thickness of lamination film, CR-80 cards, plastic and other material. A mil is equal to 100 gauge film or 25.4 microns.

The lamination process typically involves two layers of film (both pouch and roll lamination). In pouch lamination there is a pouch that consists of a folder with a top and bottom layer. The item being laminated goes in between the layers. Roll lamination uses two rolls of film, one on the top and another on the bottom. The mil thickness of the film only refers to one layer. This means a photo, paper, poster or other object laminated using 5-mil film consists of two 5-mil layers (top & bottom), which together add up to 10 mils of total film.

Lamination FilmSo which mil thickness should you use? A lot of it depends on what you are laminating and your own personal preference. The higher the mil number, the thicker the film is going to be. Lamination film typically comes in 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses. Here is what you would use each thickness for.

1.5 Mil Film – This is the thinnest lamination film available. It is designed solely to provide a protective layer and a nice finish, but doesn’t provide much additional support.

3 Mil Film – This is very popular with schools that need to laminate posters, signs, banners and student projects. It is still affordable, but provides enough protection for most school needs.

5 Mil Film – This is probably the most popular film we offer. It is affordable, provides good protection and still adds some rigidity and support. Most pouch and roll laminators can be used with 5 mil film.

Laminating Pouches7 Mil Film – This is probably the least common film used. It is generally used for its supportive properties and is a good option if you want a lot of rigidity, but perhaps don’t need it as thick as 10 mil.

10 Mil film – This film is purchased for its protective and solid supportive capabilities. This film is thick enough to provide paper, posters, banners and signs with optimal support. Objects laminated with 10 mil film don’t bend and can hold up through many conditions that would damage or destroy other mil thicknesses.

At Office Zone, we stock just about all of the lamination film we offer. This means we are able to provide you with a great price and fast shipping. If you need help determining the film your laminator can handle, or if you have general questions about lamination film, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. You can find our entire selection of lamination film and machines here.

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Top 10 Best Pouch Laminators 2011

Posted by: James on September 15th, 2011

Pouch LaminatorIf you’re in the market for a pouch laminating machine, you may be a bit confused by the wide selection. Some sites out there feature dozens to even hundreds of different models. I can tell you from personal experience that you need to get a high-quality pouch laminator. Having used pouch laminators and laminating pouches for over 10 years, I have a pretty good idea on what works and doesn’t work. Here are a few tips.

Purchasing a bad laminator can lead to some dramatically bad results. It can also lead to ruined documents and valuable material such as photos. Bad laminators can create cloudy splotches, ripples and bubbles. Many of these artifacts cannot be removed, even with multiple passes. It is horribly frustrating and can result in one bad day.

Even if you don’t take my advice on laminator models in this article, please at least try to find a pouch laminator with at least 4 rollers. That’s right. Four rollers is the magic number for a good pouch laminator. Some higher-end laminators feature 6, 8 and even 10 rollers. Stay away from 2 roller laminators unless you’re simply shopping around for a paper weight.

There are many brands out there, but I have personally had excellent luck with Intelli-Lam, Fellowes (some models), Akiles, Tamerica and Banner American. Now to the list.

Top 10 Best Pouch Laminators 2011 (Sorted by Price – Lowest to Highest)

  1. Intelli-Lam IL300 – This is the least expensive of the recommended pouch laminators. It features four rollers, can handle 10-mil thick film and is perfect for laminating signs, business cars, ID cards and much more. This laminator is a great value for the price.
  2. Tamerica TCC-230 – Tamerica (aka Tahsin) laminators have a great reputation with our customers. The TCC-230 is a feature-rich laminator and has an incredibly quick warm-up time.
  3. Intelli-Lam IL400 – The IL400 is one of the best deals available online for a 13″ pouch laminator. It features four rollers, the ability to handle 10 mil thick film and is extremely fast.
  4. Tamerica TCC-330 – The TCC-330 is a time-tested classic that has a proven track record for being reliable and producing high-quality results.
  5. Akiles iLam 240 – While relatively new, this 9″ laminator has quickly become a favorite. Akiles has a great reputation for producing high-quality equipment that lasts for years.
  6. Akiles iLam 340 – This laminator is perfect for the no-nonsense operator. This 13″ wide pouch laminator is extremely easy to set up and produces top-quality results.
  7. Banner American PL135-4 – The PL135-4 has been around for more than a decade and used to be one of the most affordable 4-roller laminators. This laminator is solid, time tested and you won’t be disappointed.
  8. Tamerica C-Lam – This laminator is cool to the touch, easy to operate and produces some of the most professional results of any laminator listed here. A total of 6 rollers produce crisp results.
  9. Banner American PL12A – This classic is by far the most popular commercial pouch laminator available. It utilizes 4 rollers and is designed for daily use.
  10. Akiles Pro-Lam 320 – The Akiles Pro-Lam line of laminators are fast, effective, easy to use and can handle just about any pouch laminating film out there. A total of 4 rollers quickly and evenly distribute heat.

So there you have it! My list of the top 10 pouch laminators for 2011. These laminators have proven themselves time after time and I’m confident you will be impressed as well.

We have been selling laminators for years, so if you have any questions, please feel free to call one of Office Zone’s laminating experts at 1-800-543-5454. You can find Office Zone’s entire list of pouch laminators here.

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Best Laminating Film for Your Roll or Pouch Laminator

Posted by: James on August 29th, 2011

Pouch LaminatorsLaminators are underappreciated, and in my opinion, under used. They are used to protect, coat and preserve photos, maps, posters, business cards and more. Using the right laminating film can dramatically impact the end result. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people ask me which mil thickness is best. I will try to help answer some of the most common questions I get regarding film.

Not all laminating film is the same. To begin with, laminating film is measured in mils (thousandths of an inch). The higher the mil thickness number, the thicker the film. Laminating film is typically available in 1.5, 3, 5, 7, and 10 mil thicknesses.

Before reading on, familiarize yourself with your laminator’s capabilities. I personally recommend reading through your owner’s manual. While most laminators can handle 1.5 or 3-mil film, not all can handle 5, 7 or 10. Ten mil is probably the least common as far as compatibility is concerned. Each of these thicknesses have different uses.

1.5 Mil Laminating Film – This film thickness is used primarily to lightly protect the surface of a document. It has little to no stability. It is primarily used to add a glossy coating to posters and maps. It can also help bring out colors. This film thickness is also popular for single-sided lamination purposes.

3 Mil Laminating Film – This film thickness has a little bit of stability, but is still mostly used for coating documents or to add a glossy appearance. It can help bring out colors and is often used for coating business cards, photos and posters.

5 Mil Laminating Film – This film is probably the most popular used today. This is due to its universal capabilities and reasonable price. It provides medium stability while still protecting and preserving. This film is used for signs, banners, posters, photos and other material.

7 Mil Laminating Film – This film is often used, rather than 10-mil film, because it is less expensive than 10-mil film while still providing almost as much stability as 10-mil film. This is used to add stability, protection, bring out color and more for posters, presentations, signs, restaurant menus and other documents.

10 Mil Laminating Film
– This is the thickest “common” laminating film available. It still coats, protects and enhances color, but is primarily used for its rigidity. Double-sided lamination (pouches or 2 rolls of film) uses a sheet of film for the top and a sheet of film for the bottom of a document. When using 10-mil film, the top and bottom combined equal 20 mils. This thickness is just 10 mils shy of a credit card thickness (30 mils).

In my experience, I have to say that the 3 and 5 mil film thicknesses are probably the most popular. When a person speaks with me, having no idea what they should use, I typically recommend a 5-mil film simply because of its universal qualities.

Office Zone offers laminating film for both pouch and roll laminators. You can find our pouch laminating film here and our roll laminating film here. Most of Office Zone’s film has a glossy finish to it, which is what 90% of our customers use.

If you are in the market for a laminator, you can find our pouch laminators here and our roll laminators here. If you are still having trouble tracking down a film, or simply need a few answers to some questions, please post your question here as a “comment” or call one of our Laminating Specialists at 1-800-543-5454.

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Fellowes Jupiter JL-125 Pouch Laminator Review

Posted by: James on June 1st, 2011

Fellowes Jupiter JL-125 Pouch LaminatorHave you been searching far and wide for the right pouch laminator? If so, I’m sure you’ve encountered a giant selection. If you’re looking for a mid-volume machine for your church, office, or home, a great model to consider is the Jupiter JL-125 pouch laminator from Fellowes. This review will help you decide if it’s the right machine for you.

Whether or not you’re familiar with Fellowes, chances are you have owned or do own a product of theirs. Selling an extremely wide range of products from shredders, laminators, and binding machines to mouse pads, storage boxes, and various other equipment, Fellowes has been around the block. Out of all of these machines, I’d say their laminators is one area in which their quality comes out.

The Fellowes Jupiter JL-125 pouch laminator sports an impressive 12.5″ throat size, making it easy to laminator anything from business cards to 11″ X 17″ size paper. It also accommodates up to 7 mil thickness, which is usually more than enough for the majority of your laminating needs.

One of the great things about this model is the sleek, modern design. It fits well in any office setting and screams, “Use me, I’m awesome looking!” Well, it may actually only whisper that, to be honest.

What sets this apart from other similar models is the variable temperature control. This makes it very easy to get the right setting of heat if you’re laminating a variety of materials. Sometimes your product will not come out just right if you don’t have the correct setting for what you’re laminating. This is easily eliminated with the JL-125 model.

Another great feature that puts this model above the rest is the optional cold setting. This is used for pressure sensitive material, as well as self-adhesive pouches.

A couple other things I like about this machine is the 2 year warranty. This is considerably longer than most pouch laminators. It also has 4 rollers instead of your typical 2 roller models. Extra rollers means fewer jams and a better lamination. A reverse feature comes in handy in case you do get that rare jam. Warm-up time on this model is also extremely quick, only taking about 4 minutes. I’ve been around machines that take over 10 minutes!

Have you had it with never finding carriers for your laminator when you need it? The JL-125 does not requires carriers at all! This is my favorite feature with this machine, probably because I’ve gone around the office looking for that one lost carrier I know exists but can’t be found.

The last thing I’ll mention that is excellent with this model is the HeatGuard Technology. This feature keeps the heat inside the laminator and leaves the outside cool to the touch. No more worrying about accidentally burning yourself.

Overall, the Fellowes Jupiter JL-125 pouch laminator is an easy choice. You can find the Fellowes Jupiter JL-125 pouch laminator here. If you need to purchase one, or if you have any questions about them, contact Office Zone at 800-543-5454 or place an order via our secure shopping cart.

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What’s the Best Laminator for you? Roll or Pouch?

Posted by: Morgan on March 9th, 2011

Roll LaminatorThe best type of laminator ultimately depends on how much you want to laminate. Both roll and pouch laminators have many similarities. For example, both types of machines can process a wide range of film thicknesses. Both can preserve and protect documents and photographs for decades on end.There are some significant differences between these two types of laminators, however.

Pouch Laminators are ideal for people who typically only laminate a few items in a day. If you plan to do a high-volume laminating project, a pouch laminator can only laminate one item at a time. You typically save significant time when using a roll laminator.

Pouch laminator film requires more of an investment when compared to roll film. Several pouch laminator models work best when you use a protective carrier. A carrier ensures optimum performance and longevity. You do not need to use a carrier with a roll laminator.

Roll Laminators are best for anyone who plans to laminate in large quantities. Most of our customers who choose a roll laminator include schools (from elementary to universities), government offices and business. Roll laminators are fully capable of laminating more than one item at a time. This can translate into significant time and supply savings.

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Need Laminator and Film to Make IDs

Posted by: Morgan on March 4th, 2011

Pouch LaminatorQuestion

Hi I’m printing some cards on an ink jet printer and would like to purchase the material I can put over the sheets to have some IDs made. Which product on your site should I be looking at? Is there some kind of lamination I place on the paper and heat to make it like an ID? I don’t have an ID printer.  Please advice, thanks!

Omar G.

Answer

We recommend a pouch laminator and large lamination pouches. The size of film you will need is 9″ x 11 1/2″. Office Zone offers the largest selection of pouch lamination film available online, including an extensive selection of large lamination pouches. Our quality lamination film is made from the best materials, and is compatible with most hot pouch laminators (just as long as the selected laminator can process the specified film mil thickness).

Once you have your pouch laminator and film ready, all you need to do is insert the sheet into the lamination pouch and run it through the machine. You can then trim your ID cards down to size with a rotary paper trimmer.

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Need to Laminate Photos Back to Back

Posted by: Morgan on March 11th, 2010

Question:

I need to laminate 2 photos together, back to back. What type of glue or double side tape would you recommend? I need to cut the photos along the edge.

Wayne M.

Answer:

You can actually laminate photos back to back without the aid of glue or tape. A nice thing about lamination pouches is the inside of the pouch is Tahsin TCC 6000 Photo Pouch Laminatorsomewhat tacky. That’s because the film has the glue on the inside of the pouch. This makes it easy to place an item inside before laminating and not worrying if will move during the laminating process.

We recommend the Tahsin TCC 6000 Photo Pouch Laminator for your application. This is a continuous use, heavy-duty model designed especially for laminating photos. It encapsulates photos and digital images without all of those annoying resulting bubbles, often found in the film after it’s passed through the machine. The advanced hot roller system in the TCC 6000, and the adjustable speed controls, ensure quality and trouble-free operation. The TCC 6000 also includes a handy reverse function for backing out mis-feeds and jammed items.

You mentioned that you wanted to trim the photos. You can find a wide selection of rotary paper trimmers and cutters on our site.