When you want to keep your menus clean, your posters reusable, your charts wipe-cleanable, and your documents durable, you laminate! If you’re like us, you’ll put your pouch laminator through its paces—you want it to last a long, loooong time, and you want to get the best possible results, every. single. time. Follow the tips below to keep your laminator running smoothly and your documents looking and feeling great!
Turn the heat down (or up)
Is your menu coming out of the laminator all wrinkled up? Are there bubbles? Curled up corners? If so, you most likely have the temperature turned up too high for the pouches you’re working with. The user manual that came with your laminating machine will give you great information on the correct settings you need for the materials you’re working with so your documents come out flat, smooth, and perfect!
On the other hand, if you run your wipe-off checklist through your pouch laminator and the pouch is cloudy, making it hard to see your list, then you probably need to turn your machine temperature up. Again, refer to your user manual for optimal temperatures needed to make your item come out crystal clear.
Keep it clean
Eventually, your pouch laminator will need to be cleaned; as you feed the pouches through, occasionally some of the film will adhere to the heated rollers, which can gum up your machine and cause your documents to come out with bumps and chunks. Your laminator’s user manual will have information about how and how often to clean your particular machine, but in general, you have a couple of cleaning options. You can run a sheet of 80# stock through the machine while it’s still hot to pull the gunk off the rollers. However, for best results, we recommend using a mildly abrasive cleaning pad (we like the 3M White Scotch Bride pad). Pour a little denatured alcohol on the pad or use a mild detergent to wipe the debris and melted film off the rollers. We also sell a pouch laminator cleaning kit if that’s more your style—again, refer to your user manual for cleaning tips specific to your laminating machine.
Size it right
Not everything you’re laminating is the exact same size, which makes it really important that you select pouches that are sized appropriately for your paper. The rule of thumb is to leave a 1/8” buffer on each side so the adhesive adheres well to itself and bonds to the paper properly. This will keep moisture and dirt clear of the paper you’re protecting, and will help prevent damage.
“Mils” and why they matter
Just as not everything you’re laminating is going to be the same size, it’s also not going to be the same thickness, nor will it all be used the same way. In order to keep your document looking clean and new for years, you want to use the right pouch thickness. Laminating pouches are measured in “mils” which is one-thousandth of an inch. Most commonly, pouches are sold in thicknesses of 3, 5, 7, and 10 mils, with 3 mil pouches being the thinnest and most flexible and 10 mil pouches being the thickest and most rigid. In order to determine which thickness of laminating pouch to use, ask yourself two things:
1. What am I going to do with my item once it’s laminated? Will it need to be folded or flexible? Will it be handled frequently? Will it only be used incidentally? For items that will be handled frequently (think menus), you’ll most likely want to use something on the thicker end of the scale: 7 mil or 10 mil. For something that will be used just incidentally, or that might need to be folded or scored, 3 mil or 5 mil might be more appropriate.
2. How thick is the item that I’m laminating? Generally, you would use a pouch that is roughly the same weight as the item that you’re laminating. So, for newspaper or regular 20lb bond paper, you’d use a 3 mil pouch. For 24lb bond paper, you’d use a 5 mil pouch. If you’re laminating card stock, you’d want to use a 7 mil pouch, while 10 mil would be appropriate for poster board.
Keep in mind, as we discussed above, that the temperature of your laminating machine may need to be adjusted depending on what pouch weight you’re using.
We hope this information will help you get perfect, polished results with your pouch laminator!