If you’ve been waiting for minutes for a plain sheet to be laminated, then take a look at our spreadsheet before you buy a laminator. We’ve listed the warm-up time and lamination time of multiple machines to give you the perfect overview and work faster in the future . But if you are a cheap fox, then you can safely go to a cheap laminator, because even slow machines produce good results. For example, you can even get an A3 laminator with comparatively little money , which in turn opens up completely new possibilities.
Purchase advice: How to find the right laminator in 2019
- With a laminator you can weld all types of paper documents completely in laminating film to protect and preserve them in the long term. The shrink-wrapped documents are washable and waterproof.
- If you want to buy a laminator, think about how often you need it. Simple laminators are often more cumbersome to use, but cheaper.
- Most machines can handle A4 size laminates up to 230mm lamination width.
You do not want to protect important documents, documents or pictures from yellowing or even being destroyed by moisture. Of course, you can archive many paper documents with simple office supplies, such as file folders. But they are not really protected.
It is better to laminate the documents. There are various laminating machines that can be obtained from specialist retailers of office supplies in various designs and price categories.
Our laminator comparison 2018 shows that there are quite large differences between the different models of different brands and manufacturers such as Olympia, GBC or Leitz. In order to find the best laminator for your purposes, we have summarized the most important purchase criteria in this purchase advice for you.
1. How a laminator works
If you have never heard of lamination, we would first like to explain to you how exactly a laminator works. It is a binder that falls under the category office supplies.
To use the laminator, first place the document between two laminating sheets. These are specially made films for this purpose , which are available in different sizes. You will find commercially laminating films in A4 for normal documents, but also other sizes.
The document lying between the films is now pulled through between two rollers on the laminator. With the help of heat and glue the three layers are connected.
The operation is simple and the result is a shrink-wrapped document , which is not only protected against the aging process. It also becomes sturdier and waterproof, which is why many outdoor announcements are often laminated. You can also use laminators for playing cards, pictures or certificates. Further fields of application are:
- annual passes
- student cards
- pension cards
- business cards
For books laminators are not suitable. Frequently, a laminator is bought immediately with films, as a laminator set. But you will still have to buy more slides over time.
There is also a general distinction between hot lamination and cold lamination. Most cheap laminators use the heat method. In the process, an adhesive is liquefied by the heat, so that documents and foils stick together after the lamination process.
It creates temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees Celsius, which is not optimal for sensitive documents – it can lead to discoloration or fading. Nevertheless, this type of lamination is very popular because of its reliability.
Notes on warranty
They usually have a warranty of two years on laminators . Note, however, that this only applies to its proper use. Should the device be damaged by improper handling, for example lamination of unintended materials, the guarantee expires.
Anyone who wants to protect special documents, but rather resort to a cold laminator, such as the Brother laminator “Cool Laminator”. These devices use an adhesive that is fluid even at lower temperatures. So no heat acts on the documents.
However, the adhesive may self-liquefy or decompose at higher ambient temperatures. In the worst case, the entire lamination dissolves. A small advantage of cold laminators, however, is that they allow one-sided lamination, so that only one side of the document is covered with the protective film.
The perfect compromise is combination devices that offer both types of laminating and are already quite cheap today. An example would be the laminator GBC Fusion 3000L.
Hot lamination is the most common type of lamination , which is why we have listed the advantages and disadvantages here:
- Common and reliable method.
- The lamination process is very simple.
- The documents are then sealed and no longer dissolve.
- The heat can be dangerous for sensitive documents and lead to discoloration.
2. The different techniques are there
A distinction is also made by the technique of different types of laminators. In essence, there are three types:
|Laminator with hot roller technology||
|Laminator with halogen technology||
|Laminator with hotplate technology||
3. Purchase criteria – what it can and what it must
Most individuals rarely use a laminator to occasionally laminate a newly obtained certificate, a children’s certificate, or special photos.
After all, the majority of documents can simply be kept in a file folder. For such rare uses, a cheap laminator is enough.
With only occasional use, you can certainly cut back on points such as speed and manageability rather than if you use the device practically every day. The more often the device is in use, the more important the following purchase criteria are.
3.1. Which laminating formats should the device master?
This point is also important if you rarely use the device, but perhaps want to laminate unusual format. Popular laminators, which are sometimes cheap at discounters, can definitely laminate the DIN A4 format. This corresponds to a normal printer page.
It is important that the foil bag always has to be larger than the laminating width. Of course you can also use a DIN A4 device to weld in smaller formats such as pictures or business cards and then cut them out. Bigger but not. A laminator for A3 is no longer so common, but here are also good models.
Tip: To then cut a laminated document, you can use a paper cutter that allows for precise cuts. There are also combi devices that have a built-in cutting function in addition to the laminating function.
3.2. More film thickness for more safety
You can choose between matt laminating films and glossy ones and you can also choose different thicknesses. However, laminators usually do not accept all film thicknesses , but only a limited range.
So if you want to buy a laminator, you have to think in advance which film thickness you want to use. The rule is: the stronger the film, the better the document is protected , but the more the film costs.
The thickness of the film is given in the unit micrometer (mic). Note that each document is placed between two slides. If the film thickness is 80 mic, you will end up with a thickness of 160 mic, plus the paper thickness . If you have thick paper, that adds up nicely.
Common devices create a film thickness of 125 mic, for example the Olympia laminator A230. But there are also models that allow thicker film, such as the Leitz laminator iLam touch A4 turbo.
3.3. Warm-up time – overestimated argument
Many manufacturers advertise particularly fast warm-up times for their laminators, which sounds logical. After all, the time you have to wait for the device to become operational can quickly add up.
However, laminator tests usually show only minor differences: after three to five minutes, almost all laminators are heated up.
Another point is more important with regard to the temperature: Due to the high temperatures, the device may overheat. Although many models offer overheating protection. But that does not change the fact that some devices have to be turned off after half an hour, so they can cool down again.
This is a problem especially with low-cost laminators. On the other hand, with a higher-quality Fellowes, Leitz or Gehe device, you can laminate without interruption for a long time in one go.
3.4. The laminating speed – for home use is slow
In terms of lamination speed, most laminator tests have more expensive equipment out in front. Again, the question arises, how much speed is necessary at all. Occasional lamination of individual pages does not require a high speed device.
Simple devices create about 300 mm per minute, with the mm value referring to the length of the laminated document. Professional equipment creates 1,000 mm per minute.
Tip: In order to avoid a foil jam, it is good if a device has a return. Then incorrectly inserted slides are detected. However, such devices are more expensive. An alternative are models where you can remove a film jam with a button or lever.
4. Questions and answers about the laminator
4.1. Did Laminators pass the test?
Although these devices are used in many offices and homes , the consumer organization has not yet performed a laminator test . That’s why we can not call you a laminator test winner.
4.2. Which laminating film should you choose?
The film must be at least two to three millimeters larger than the paper size.
But this is already included in the slides that you can buy for certain paper sizes. Whether you choose a matt or glossy foil is largely a matter of taste.
However, you must pay attention to the film thickness permitted by the laminator. In general, a low film thickness is completely sufficient for simple finishing of documents.
75 to 123 mic are enough and are mastered by most common laminators.This film thickness is also sufficient, for example, to protect photos from imprints. If the document is subject to severe mechanical impact at the end, you should choose a larger thickness.
4.3. How to laminate with the laminator
First of all, observe the usual safety rules : Plug the cable of the device into a properly installed socket, paying attention to the device voltage.
Lay the power cord in such a way that you can not trip over it and do not operate the appliance if you have wet hands or are standing on damp ground.
Place the device on a flat, smooth surface so that you can push the leaves in at the front and slide them out of the device without any obstruction. The device should be free.
Use only suitable films. Preheat the device and wait for it to signal operational readiness. In the meantime, you can already place the paper you want to weld in between the two slides. Make sure that the film protrudes on all sides and then insert the transparencies with the paper straight and carefully from the front into the device.
4.4. How to laminate without a laminator?
In principle, this works in the same way as cold lamination. You need corresponding self-adhesive foils for this. The sheet must be placed on it as straight as possible and then put on the cover sheet and press firmly.
However, bubbles can easily form and it takes a decent position skill to get a decent result. Another disadvantage is that such cold laminating is not as durable and robust as the hot lamination.