Which Type of Laminating Film Do You Need?
An Outline From Filmsource Inc.
When you’re searching for laminating film, it’s important to consider both the type of project you’re working on and the type of laminator you already own. Different laminating machines have different requirements and using the wrong laminating supplies can destroy both your project and your machine!
You have a lot of options when it comes to laminating film (and therefore laminators). Depending on your needs—Glossy or matte finish? Which mil thickness? How much do you need to laminate?—you may need a different type of film.
In order to avoid any disasters, we’re breaking down different types of laminating film and when you should use them.
Thermal, Hot Laminating Film
Thermal laminators, also known as heat shoe or hot roll laminators, are standard office equipment. These laminators use thermal laminating film, which utilizes a heat-activated adhesive to secure your projects, leaving a crystal clear finish. This is the standard laminating film that you’re likely used to. (If you have a pouch laminator, you can still use thermal laminating pouches to help you with those smaller projects.) Hot laminators are available in a wide range of sizes, allowing you to laminate anything from business cards to wide-format posters.
Uses for Thermal Laminating Film
The uses for thermal laminating film are incredibly varied simply because so many projects can handle the high temperatures used with hot roll laminators. Consider using thermal laminating film for projects such as…
- Documents (letter-size and bigger)
- ID cards and business cards
- Banner and display graphics (not all banner materials are compatible with thermal films – please contact us to see if yours is)
- Restaurant menus
- Legal documents
Low Melt Laminating Film
Low melt laminating film is a solid, middle-ground choice between thermal laminating and cold laminating. Low melt film is still a form of thermal laminating, but it has a lower melting point and is comprised of two adhesive types instead of one. The lower melting point makes this type of laminating film great for digital prints, commercial artwork, and some ink jet media.
Cold Pressure-Sensitive Roll Laminating Film
Cold roll laminators (also known as pressure-sensitive laminators) are designed to work with laminating roll film made of pressure-sensitive adhesive. These laminators are ideal for any project that has temperature-sensitive inks. Cold laminators and laminating film roll are available in a wide range of sizes.
Uses for Cold Pressure-Sensitive Laminating Film
Because pressure-sensitive laminators don’t use thermal lamination, they’re perfect for anything that could get distorted, melt, or has a coating, like…
- Glossy photo media
- Digital and ink jet prints
- Banners and signs
- Outdoor graphics that require UV protection
What to Consider in Laminating Film
While laminating film is one of the most important office supplies for many companies, you might not know exactly what to look for. It’s not just temperature you need to consider about laminating film. The finish, thickness, and roll length are all key components in choosing a laminating film.
Believe it or not, there are a few different available finishes in laminating film.
Matte laminating film has no glare and is fingerprint-resistant, but keep in mind it does have somewhat of a grainy texture. This type of film is ideal for posters, artwork, and displays. Standard, glossy laminating film, on the other hand, is shiny and gives off sharper detail, brighter colors. It’s a cost-effective choice for menus, ID cards, reports, and more.
For a choice that’s right in between, add a satin or luster film to your laminating wish list. Images and text look sharp but the glare issue is non-existent!
The thickness of lamination film is measured in mils; one mil is equal to 1/1000ths of an inch- meaning it’s extremely thin. While all lamination films are quite thin, different mil thicknesses have different applications.
For instance, a 1.5 mil film (equal to .0015″) is extremely thin and is ideal for items printed on heavy cardstock, like business cards. It’s the most affordable laminating film.
A 10 mil film, on the other hand, is extremely rigid and hard to bend. It’s usually used for ID badges, reference sheets, and menus that do not need to fold. Be sure to round the edges of your final piece if using roll film, as this laminate can actually be quite sharp!
There is a variety of mil thicknesses between those two, but keep in mind that the higher the mil count, the more sturdy (and therefore less bendable) your final document will be.
Width, Coresize, and Length
These three factors apply mostly to the type of laminator that you own. Many laminators have the ability to handle varying widths and core sizes of lamination film, so the most important thing is to be sure the film roll you buy can work with your laminator.
As for length, most films have common standard lengths. For the rolls that come in more options, be sure not to buy too long of a roll: it may be too big to fit in your machine!
If you want to start laminating but aren’t sure where to start or which laminating machine or film to buy, get in touch with the experts at Filmsource. We’ll give our recommendations specific to your product and even walk you through how to use them!
Contact the Experts