How To Use A Laminator

Laminating is the perfect way to protect and preserve paper, whether it’s an important document or something that has a precious memory attached to it.

If you have a laminating machine, there’s every chance you’ve faced the occasional issue. Additionally, if you are new to laminating, there may be questions you need to answer to have full confidence in using the laminator.

This article is here to help you and give you the courage to laminate and do it well.

Ten Simple Rules For Laminating

  1. Don’t assume you’re an expert and know what you are doing. All laminators are different. Read the instructions and user manuals before using a laminator you are unfamiliar with.
  2. Don’t put an empty lamination pouch into the laminator.
  3. Always be with the laminator while it is laminating.
  4. Ensure the laminator is turned off when not in use.
  5. Only laminate items that are made from paper.
  6. The presealed edge of the lamination pouch enters the laminator first.
  7. If a document cannot be replaced, test the laminator first with a similar, unimportant document to ensure no issues.
  8. Ensure you use the correct heat setting to match the lamination pouches thickness. Laminators that are too hot damage documents.
  9. There should be a 2 to 3-millimeter overlap between document and pouch. Any less, and the document may not be sealed properly. This measurement applies to all edges.
  10.  Should a document jam, turn the laminator off. Use the release lever to free both the document and the pouch.

Step-By-Step Guide To Using A Laminator With Pouches

STEP 1: FINDING THE RIGHT POUCH

Pouches come with varied quality, also having different sizes and thicknesses. The factors have an impact on the settings you use during lamination, so it is important to have some idea about them.

  • Size

Pouch size is important. First, ensure that the pouch being purchased is small enough to fit in the laminator’s mouth but also big enough to leave a 2-3mm gap around all the edges of your paper.

Try not to use pouches that are much bigger than the item being laminated. This is just a waste of the plastic. You can find pouches of all sizes available in the shops and online.

  • Thickness

Ensure you have checked your laminator’s user guide so that you know both the thinnest and thickest pouch size the machine can deal with.

Most standard laminators can deal with thicknesses between 3 to 5 millimeters. Anything outside these measurements may cause an issue for the laminator.

  • Surface

You can choose between glossy and matte surfaces for your pouches. This shouldn’t make a difference to how your laminator operates and is more a point of personal preference.

Generally, glossy pouches are used for laminating photographs, and matte pouches are used for documents.

STEP 2: PUTTING THE PAPER INTO THE POUCH

This is relatively simple, especially if putting just one item in the pouch.

If using just one item, place it in the pouch, ensuring there is a 2-3mm pouch overlap on every side of the document.

You can put multiple items in a pouch if there is enough space. Trim each item first, and then spread them evenly inside the pouch. Make sure there is a 2-3mm gap between the edge of the pouch and the edge of any item. The gap between each item within the pouch should be between 4-6 mm to allow space for proper sealing and then cutting to take place.

You should not, under any circumstances, trim the pouch before laminating.

STEP 3: POWER UP THE LAMINATOR

Find the power button and switch the laminator on. Once it is on, adjust the setting according to the thickness of your laminating pouch. This may be done by preset buttons if you have a fancy laminator or via a dial if you have a more standard machine.

STEP 4: WAIT

Let the laminator heat up. The time this takes will vary from model to model, and the greater the temperature required, the longer your wait will be.

Once the laminator is at the heat you need, you will be notified by a light (usually green) turning on on the laminator. Alternatively, if your laminator comes with a screen, you’ll see the notification there.

STEP 5: INSERT YOUR FILLED POUCH

With the laminator hot, you insert the pouch sealed side first. This will be pulled inside the laminator. Your job is to hold the pouch steady as it slowly passes through the laminator and out the other side.

Once out, the pouch should be fully sealed.

STEP 6: TRIMMING

If your laminate requires trimming, don’t do this immediately. Allow it to cool a bit first.

Once cool, you can trim; but ensure you are using a pair of good quality, sharp scissors.

Step-By-Step Guide To Using A Roll Laminating Machine

Roll laminators are usually used in professional settings, where there is a lot of laminating to be done in a day. If you have this type of machine, then these are the steps you need to take.

STEP 1: CHECK INSIDE

This type of laminator uses heat rollers and a plastic roll inserted into the machine before any lamination occurs.

The rollers heated rollers press the laminate film onto the item requiring lamination. Therefore, you need to check that these are ready and also that it is safe for the film to be put in.

STEP 2: INSTALL THE LAMINATE ROLLS

You will need two cartridges that contain the plastic film. One acts as the top cover, and the other acts as the bottom over.

These cartridges will be installed one at a time using the same process with each.

To install the cartridges, you will place them onto a metal pole, which is reinserted and rolls as the machine works.

STEP 3: FILM THREADING

With the cartridges installed, you are almost ready to laminate. You will see some silicone rollers. Film from both cartridges needs to be pushed through them and then joined together using the adjustment lever.

STEP 4: TURN ON THE MACHINE

If the machine is automatic, insert the item to be laminated, push the on button, and the machine will do the rest.

A manual machine will require you to insert the item and then twist the handle to make the item pass through the machine.

Solutions To Common Lamination Problems

1. POUCH JAMS

Important: When a pouch is jammed, do not try to force it through. This could cause damage to the machine’s gears.

Instead, turn the machine off. Once the machine is off, use the release leaver and gently pull the trapped pouch out.

Once the pouch is out, run some white cardboard through the machine. This will absorb anything that got stuck on the rollers. Do this 2 to 3 times.

2. LAMINATION WAVES

When the lamination looks like it has created waves, this is because the machine’s temperature was too hot.

Ensure you check the setting is correct for the thickness of pouch you are using.

You may need to turn the temperature down and wait for the indicator light to tell you the laminator is ready to use again.

3. DOCUMENT CURLS

Never leave your laminated document in the machine once the lamination is finished. The machine is still hot, and this extra time getting heat will cause the laminated document to curl.

Once the lamination is done, remove the item immediately, and place it on a flat surface to let it cool.

4. CLOUDY LAMINATION AND BUBBLES

Cloudy lamination and bubbles are a sure sign that the laminator was not hot enough when you passed the document and pouch through the machine.

Check the thickness of the pouch matches up with the temperature you are using.

If you are laminating thicker, heavier documents, you may need to change to a thinner laminating pouch to get effective protection.

Should you experience this problem, you can try increasing the heat of the laminator and putting the pouch through the machine again.

5. CLEANING THE MACHINE

It would be best if you cleaned your laminator after every session of laminating.

This can be done by running white cardboard through the machine 2 to 3 times to pick up any dirt and debris on the rollers.

CONCLUSION

Laminating machines may seem scary and look like anything can go wrong at any second, but there’s really no need to panic.

Follow some simple rules for laminating, and you shouldn’t face any problems.

If you do get into a bit of trouble, most likely with a pouch jam, then remember not to force things through the machine. That will just break it.

Use this ‘How to’ guide to get you through all your laminating, and you can’t go wrong.

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