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DIY Post: Make a Reusable Practice Booklet

Having just come off a long holiday break, we can attest to the fact that sometimes a little refresher is helpful to keep our kids’ skills sharpened up. This vacation, we decided to make a simple reusable wipe-clean booklet to help our kids practice their multiplication skills while school was out (and any other time they need practice, too!). We thought we’d share our process here so your children and students can benefit from this quick-to-make tool, too. This is perfect for classrooms, too, as the booklets can be cleaned and reused with multiple students and over multiple years. Obviously, you can use this method with nearly any thing that needs practice: letter formation, other math facts, the periodic table—you dream it, you can make it!

Step 1: Print off the pages that you want use in your booklet.

There are all kinds of free worksheets available online, or you can use worksheets you already have, or make your own. The possibilities are endless!

Step 2: Laminate the worksheets.

We prefer pouches for this project, but it’ll work great with regular roll laminators, too—you’ll just need to do a little extra trimming around the pages. Make sure that when you laminate, you leave ample border around the page edges. We like to leave a little extra border on the left side so that when we get to step 4, we’re not introducing areas in which moisture can get to our worksheets.

Step 3: Select a cover.

We really like the poly covers (made from polyethylene plastic). They are tear resistant, waterproof (like the rest of your book pages), and just overall durable. However, on our sample project, we used a simple vinyl cover. Regardless, adding a cover—any cover—to your booklet will add years of longevity to it. 

Step 4: Bind your pages together.

You can use just about any binding method for this booklet, although we favor spiral because this will allow the book to be opened and folded back on itself, and it’s a bit more permanent than comb or wire binding. Comb is also a great option, however, because it allows pages to be added or taken out later as your students’ needs change. We used comb binding for our sample project. If you left yourself a little extra plastic on the left margin, you can punch your holes through that to avoid punching through your paper. This will keep your pages safe from water and marker residue.

Step 5: Let your student loose with some dry erase markers and watch their skills improve!

That’s it! In just a few simple steps, you can make up a great tool to help keep your kids’ knowledge fresh or improve mastery of new concepts. And bonus! Since it’s dry erase, we (almost) guarantee that your kids and students will love practicing with this booklet!

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The Perfect Cover

It’s time to order your binding supplies for your comb binder—you’ve got combs in all the common sizes and colors ready to order, and it’s time to replace your comb inserter, so you’ve got that added to your online cart, but you’re forgetting one thing. Know what it is?

If you said covers, then you’re absolutely correct! We don’t often think of covers as part of our binding supplies, but what’s the good of binding a bunch of papers together without giving them a solid foundation, a protective layer of durability, and a beautiful finish? Without a cover, your document is unfinished. So in this blog post, we’re going to go through the different cover options that are available and give you some useful information about them. In the end, of course, the choice of whether or not to cover your document is yours, but if you’re needing a little help picking out a cover (and you should be picking out a cover!), here it is!

Clear Acetate Covers are completely see through and are one of the most commonly used cover options. They come in different weights, depending on how sturdy your document needs to be, and in different finishes (we offer a traditional smooth gloss finish, a matte clear finish which reduces glare, and a matte suede finish which has a “pebbled” texture on one side and a non-glare finish on the other side. Clear covers are perfect for letting your company’s logo show, or a full-color detailed design, or photos, like you’d find on menus, photo albums, or catalogs. Clear acetate covers are waterproof, tear resistant, and very sturdy, which will add longevity to any project they’re applied to. 

Pros: waterproof, sturdy, and see-through

Cons: work best with projects that already have cover pages and are just needing a bit of sturdiness

 Paper Covers are beautiful, professional-looking heavy-weight paper covers used most commonly for reports and proposals. They typically have a small window so that you can add a title page and view it when the cover is closed, although you can also find completely solid paper covers, as well. The covers are usually textured and may have a light coating on them to add durability. 

Pros: professional-looking, durable, don’t require a full color cover page

Cons: not waterproof, cover page isn’t visible, except through a small window large enough for document title

Vinyl Covers are similar to paper covers in that they’re textured, solid-colored, and are typically used for reports and proposals, as well as other professional applications. Vinyl covers are usually textured and typically come in conservative colors like black and navy. Vinyl covers have a vinyl cover and a heavy paper backing, so they’re durable and tear-resistant, but not waterproof. They work well for items that may see a lot of use, such as employee handbooks.

Pros: professional-looking, durable, don’t require a full color cover page

Cons: Cover page isn’t visible through vinyl

Polyethelene (Poly) Covers, like clear acetate, are waterproof, tear resistant, and extremely durable. They come in several different textures, including a matte finish and a “leather-look-alike” finish. Like the paper and vinyl covers, Poly covers are not clear—they typically come in conservative colors like black or navy, so don’t really work for items that you may want to see a full-color cover page through. The best part about poly covers is that they can easily be wiped clean if they get dusty or dirty, making them perfect for use in schools, businesses, sales presentations, and more.

Pros: professional-looking, durable, don’t require a full-color cover page, waterproof, tear-proof, easily cleaned

Cons: Cover page isn’t visible through vinyl

Thermal Utility Covers are for use with thermal binding machines. They come with a clear transparent 10-mil front cover and a thick linen paper back, and the glue is already inserted into the spine, so you simply insert your finished pages and place them in your thermal binder. Thermal covers require you to purchase the specific spine size that you need, so you either need to keep a variety of sizes on hand, or you need to know your project’s spine thickness before you order. These covers give your project a beautiful finish, especially since their’s no visible binding on the spine. Since these covers have a clear front, you can go ahead and use a full-color cover page with them; they’re great for menus, scrapbooks, school projects, portfolios, and catalogs.

Pros: beautiful finish, clear front cover so cover page can show through, perfect bound spine

Cons: more expensive than other cover methods, requires a thermal binding machine, must order size-specific, and not waterproof due to linen paper backing.

While often overlooked when considering binding materials, covers are a really great addition to your binding project; they give it a put-together, professional finish and lend durability and protection to it that you just can’t get without a cover. So next time you’re stocking up on coils, combs, or wire—remember to stock up on covers, too!

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How to Change or Repair Your Thermal Bound Books

Thermal binding, sometimes called “perfect binding,” is one of the most elegant and professional-looking binding methods available. With a wide range of applications such as reports, portfolios, yearbooks, or even family photo books, and appropriate for use with both soft and hard covers, thermal binding is a great binding method for home, school, office, and professional use. One of the best advantages to thermal bound documents is their longevity—the heat activated adhesive is designed to last for many years to come.

However, that longevity can also be a down-side to thermal binding—when you’ve bound up that expense report for tomorrow’s business meeting only to discover that you somehow left off page 32, what do you do?

Fortunately, in this blog post, we’re going to walk you through both adding and removing pages from perfect bound books, and (bonus!) we’re also going to talk about repairing damaged hard-cover books,* so even if you got that expense report put together perfectly, keep reading!

Adding and Removing Pages In a Thermal Bound Book

So that expense report that you accidentally bound without page 32? Here’s how to fix that:

  1. Get your :thermal binding machine: pulled out again because you’re going to need it again. Now grab your report and whatever pages need to be added (if you’re adding pages). You’re going to use your binding machine to remelt the heat-activated adhesive in your document’s spine and essentially unbind your book.

  2. Now you’re going to need to read your binding machine’s manual at this point. Most machines require a warm-up cycle before actually binding your document; if your machine doesn’t require that, then skip this step. If your machine requires warming, then turn it on and initiate the warm-up cycle now.

  3. Once your machine is warmed and ready to go, place your book spine-down into your thermal binder. Select the correct cycle and temperature for the document that you’re working on and let your machine complete the entire cycle.

  4. Remove your document from the binding machine and open it as wide as you can.
    If you’re trying to remove pages, give a gentle tug on the pages you want to remove. They should slide out fairly easily. If they don’t, you want to reheat your book and try again. Once you get the pages removed, close your book closed again and tap it firmly on a hard service to get make sure your remaining pages are firmly against the adhesive in the spine. Place your book spine-side down back into the thermal binder and run the appropriate cycle again. Tap your pages one more time and let the book cool per your user manual’s directions.
    If you’re trying to add pages, make sure your book is opened to the place your pages need to be inserted. Gather your extra pages and insert them carefully where they go. Flip your book over and tap the pages firmly against a hard surface to align them properly. Place your book spine-side down into your thermal binding machine again and run the appropriate cycle again. Tap your pages one more time and let the book cool per your user manual’s directions.

That’s all you need to do! Now you’ve got page 32 in its proper place; crisis averted! You can show up at that meeting tomorrow looking like the professional that you usually are!

Repairing a Damaged Hard Cover Book*

I don’t know about you, but we have a library-bound copy of The Call of the Wild upstairs on the bookshelves that, quite honestly, have seen better days. Maybe you do, too. If so, keep reading, because we’re going to fix books today! So grab your damaged book and your thermal binding machine, and make sure you pick up a bundle of :glue strips:, too, because you’ll need them!

  1. Get your damaged book ready by carefully removing any extra adhesive that might be lingering on the spine. If the spine isn’t completely separated from the pages, you might want to finish the job using a sharp blade such as an X-acto knife or a razor blade. Make sure you do this delicately—you don’t want to damage the actual structure of the cover or any of the pages.

  2. Get out your thermal binding machine and check your user manual for instructions on whether or not your machine requires warming. If it does (and most do!), go ahead and it get that process started.

  3. While your machine is warming up, grab one of those glue strips you got earlier and lay it down on top of your book’s pages. Grab a pair of scissors and trim the glue strip so that it’s about a half-inch shorter than your pages (you want to make sure you’re measuring from your book’s pages, not your book’s cover, since the cover is typically larger than the actual pages, and you don’t want melted glue dripping out of the spine once it’s melted.

  4. Once your glue strip is trimmed down to size, carefully slip it between the back of the book pages and the book’s spine. Your machine should be warm by now, so go ahead and slip your book spine-down into the thermal binder. Select the appropriate cycle for a hard-bound book and let the cycle run completely. Once the cycle is finished, while the book is still in the binding machine, tap the top edge of the pages to make sure the pages are thoroughly making contact with the glue on the spine.

  5. Since this is a hard-cover book, you’re going to need to re-crimp the spine. If you have a :crimper,” this is the perfect time to use it. Simply remove your book from the thermal binding machine and place it immediately into the crimper and crimp down. If you don’t happen to have a crimper, you can use a flat piece of plastic or metal (a metal straight-edge works great for this!) and press firmly into the divot on the spine where it was previously crimped. Flip the book over and repeat this step in the divot on the back cover. Now let the book cool according to your user manual’s instructions.

And that’s all there is to it. Now your library-bound copy of The Call of the Wild is ready for you to read all over again! If you’re a visual learner, check out Pro-Bind’s video demonstration on the book repair process:

*If your damaged book is rare, valuable, or disintegrating due to age, we recommend that you forego the DIY repairs and take it to a professional, reputable book repair company.

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Don’t Get Your Binding in a Bunch

If you’re needing to bind even a fair amount of projects regularly, you’ll want to purchase your own binding machine to reduce costs. If it’s still early in the game and you’re scratching your head about what type of machine you need, you’ll want to head on over to our handy guide Choosing a Binding Method to help you out with that decision. If, however, you’ve already gotten your binding machine and you’re just needing some tips for getting started, then keep reading.

We’ve divided the information by binding type, so feel free to skip to the Comb Binding, Coil Binding, or Double Loop Wire Binding sections for specific info. But first, here are some general tips that are relevant to all binding methods:

  1. All comb, coil, and double loop wire binding machines have a built-in hole punch designed to correctly align the holes along the margin of your project with the binding materials that machine is designed for. When you’re punching your pages, it’s really important to make sure they’re correctly seated in the punch—pages should be set all the way into the punch as far as they’ll go, and you’ll want to do a visual check to make sure they’re straight so you don’t end up with holes going slantwise and off the page.

  2. While we’re on the subject of punching, keep in mind that each machine has a maximum number of pages it can punch at one time. This information can be found in your user manual and is different to each machine. The maximum punch capacity is based on 20lb uncoated bond, so if you’re punching heavier paper or acetate covers or anything else, you’ll need to adjust how many pages you punch at a time. Also, we strongly advise that you don’t regularly punch the maximum capacity of your machine as this can wear out the die faster, reducing the life of your binding machine.

  3. If you have ever wondered where the cut-outs (they’re called “chips,” by the way) go after you’ve punched your pages, check the “chip” tray—typically, it’s located directly under the paper punch (again, consult your user manual for exactly where this is located on your machine and how to access it). You’ll want to regularly empty this tray or else the chips can get jammed up between the die and cause them not to descend properly.

Comb Binding

Comb binding is the easiest and most economical binding method, using plastic combs with curved teeth that slip through the punched holes on the edge of your document and tuck under the spine to hold the pages securely. Comb binding is great for documents as thin as ¼” through 2″ thick. The spines are perfect for personalizing with a screen printed book title! If you’ve got a comb binding machine, here are some ways to get great results every time:

  1. If your machine has a margin adjuster, you can use it to help center your punches along the margin so you don’t have holes punching off the edges. Your machine may also have disengageable die which allows you to “turn off” some of the die so you can get your holes aligned correctly. If you need to, you can punch on scrap paper until you get things just right.

  2. Along with an adjustable margin setter, your comb binding machine may also have an adjustable depth setting, which allows you to punch holes further away from or closer to the edge of your document. If you’re binding a thicker project, you’ll want to set your depth a little further from the margin of your page to give your document more durability. If you’re binding a thinner project, you’ll want to set your depth a bit closer to the edge of your margin to help your pages turn more smoothly.

  3. If you have trouble knowing what size combs to use for your project, check your binding machine for a sizing tool—many have them. Your user guide will give your information on exactly how to use the tool, but it’ll help you tailor your comb size to your document. Often the comb packaging will also have indications on how much paper that comb size can accommodate, so if your comb binding machine doesn’t have a sizing tool, check your comb packaging. And remember to move to the next size up if your project is nearing the maximum number of pages for the previous comb size.

  4. When you open your comb to slide your pages onto it, take care to open it just wide enough to accommodate your pages. Opening it too widely will give you less “tooth” space to fit your project onto, which will cost you time as you fiddle with things.

  5. Pages go onto both combs and double loop wire face down. You want to make sure you’re only inserting a few pages at a time; trying to slide too many on your comb will cause endless frustration as the teeth curl up between the stack of pages instead of slipping through the holes like they’re supposed to do.

  6. Larger combs often have divots on the two outermost teeth. These are designed to slide into a corresponding slot on the spine that help keep the combs closed even when loaded with pages.

Coil Binding

Coil binding is beautiful, versatile, and durable. Coils come in a rainbow of colors for personalized pizazz. One of the biggest advantages of coil is that coil-bound documents can be opened a full 360º, making it perfect for catalogs, calendars, and textbooks. Coil binding machines come in both electric and manual models, and depending on the model, you may have to purchase the coil inserter separately. If you’re just getting started with your coil binder, here are our best tips:

  1. As with comb binding, if your coil binding machine allows you to adjust the punch depth, then use this feature to give your project optimal durability. Remember to punch further from the paper edge for thicker documents and closer to the paper edge for thinner documents. Also check for a adjustable margin settings so that your holes are centered along the project’s edge. If you aren’t sure about the correct settings, punch a few test sheets until you get it right.

  2. Pitch” refers to how many holes your machine punches per inch. Most machines only come in one pitch, with 4:1 pitch being the most common, followed by 5:1 pitch. While pitch is something that you would’ve considered when first purchasing your coil binding machine, keep in mind the restraints of your machine, remember to punch within your machine’s pitch capabilities. Machines with a 5:1 pitch can handle projects up to 1″ thick, and machines with 4:1 pitch can handle documents up to 2″ thick.

  3. Don’t scrimp on equipment. We know this may sound silly, but there are so many tools out there that can make coil binding faster and easier for you. While a lot of these tools aren’t really optional (like wire crimpers), some of them are. Don’t be afraid to make your job easier with things like an electric inserter or a slantis sleeve

  4. Speaking the slantis sleeve—if you’re binding large documents even semi-regularly, consider purchasing one. The slantis sleeve essentially curves your stack of paper so that your curved coils can be more easily inserted into the holes along the margin (otherwise, you’re inserting curved coils into a straight stack of paper, which is just as difficult as it sounds!).

Double Loop Wire Binding

Double Loop Wire binding is one of the most professional-looking method that’s used most often for reports, booklets, calendars (check out our DIY Project: How to Make a Calendar), catalogs, and promotional materials. If you own a double loop wire binding machine, here are a couple tips to help you get the best results always:

  1. Once again, adjust your margin and depth settings as needed to give your project the best finish. Punch further from the page margin for thicker documents as this adds durability and closer to the margin for thinner documents so your pages turn smoothly. Adjust your side margins or disengage appropriate die to keep your punches centered on the page. And, as we said previously, if you need to test your settings, don’t be afraid to practice on some scrap pages.

  2. Pitch comes into play again with double loop wire binding—you can choose 3:1 pitch or 2:1 pitch (again, remember that pitch refers to how many holes per inch). As with coil binding, your machine will most likely only punch one pitch, so be aware of your double loop wire binding machine’s capabilities before you undertake your project.
  3. If your machine has disengageable die, they’ll come in handy with double loop wire. One of the beautiful things about double loop wire is its versatility. For instance, if you’re pairing a wire calendar hanger with double loop wire, you’ll need to disengage the middle two die as you won’t be using them. Use that feature. As often as necessary.

  4. When you’re inserting your pages onto the wire, flip the back cover over the front cover. After you’ve closed your wire, you can return the back cover to its correct position and your seam will be neatly hidden inside your document.

  5. Keep your wire snips handy. This can be used for shortening your wire if it’s too long, or snipping off sections of wire that are unused (again, remember that wire calendar hanger? You’ll need them for that!).

We hope these tips will get you great results on each of your projects and, in the process, make your binding experience a little faster and a little easier. As always, for best results, remember to consult your individual machine’s user manual for features, settings, maintenance, and guidelines specific to it.

Happy binding!

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DIY Post: Make a Hanging Calendar

A company-branded calendar is a great marketing tool! Hand it out to your customers and clients, and they’ll see your name on every day, every month, every year. It’s also a fantastic yet under-rated piece of swag for employees (pre-mark important days like paydays, company holidays, meetings, deadlines to make sure everyone’s on the same page). In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make your own calendar so you can put your company out front and showcase your brand with very little effort.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Pre-printed calendar pages

  2. ¼” double loop wire

  3. Wire calendar hanger

  4. Half-moon punch

  5. Wire snips

  6. Double loop wire binding machine: (we recommend the Akiles Wire Mac)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Gather up your calendar pages—you’ll need one for each month of the year. Mark the center of the long edge of your pages where your binding will go on the finished project.

  2. Using your half-moon punch, punch out a divot right over the center mark on each page. Make sure you punch the front and back covers, too. This is where your calendar hanger will sit.

  3. If your binding machine has disengageable die, now is the time to use that feature by disengaging the middle two die where your divot was punched. Now slide the long edge of your calendar pages (where the binding will go) into your double loop wire binding machine and punch holes just as you would with any other document.

  4. Collate your pages. Once collated, flip the back cover the front cover (this will hide your seam inside the document, giving it a more professional finish).

  5. Place your wire into the wire holder on your machine per your user manual and slide your pages onto it face down.

  6. Get your wire calendar hanger and slide it into the center of your calendar above the divot that you punched in step 2.

  7. Close your wires using either a separate wire closer or the closer on your binding machine, if it has one.

  8. Grab your wire snips and cut the two wires in the center of your calendar where your half-moon is punched.

  9. Flip your back cover to the back again and pull your wire calendar hanger up.

That’s it.

With just a few simple steps, you can create a beautiful, professional-looking calendar to distribute to your favorite clients, employees, or maybe your family and friends. Now, just stand back and admire your work.

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Get on a Roll with Your Heated Roll Laminator

If you read our previous post, you’re already familiar with how to get great results from your pouch laminator. In this post, we want to give you some tips for getting those same great results from your heated roll laminator.

Heated roll laminators are a bit more expensive at the outset, so they’re typically used by those who regularly laminate large items like posters or signs, or who regularly laminate a lot of items in the same run (think schools, corporate offices, and print shops). The higher initial cost is offset by both the time efficiencies of the heated roll laminator as well as the cost efficiencies of laminating in bulk.

Unlike pouch laminators, heated roll laminators use two large rolls of laminating film mounted on spindles (called mandrels), which are threaded through the laminating machine and over two heated rollers. The documents to be laminated are fed into the nip (the space between the two rolls of film) and over the heated rollers which activate the adhesive and cause the film to bond to the documents. Roll laminators feed finished items out in one continuous sheet, so finished items need to be manually cut apart using scissors, trimmers, or cutters.

Heated roll laminators are a bit more complex to set up and operate than pouch laminators due to the multiple steps involved and the many moving parts; however, if you follow the steps below, you can get great results every time from your machine.

Follow the Rules

(Or, rather, the instructions.) Read the user manual that came with your laminating machine carefully and follow the directions exactly when setting up your heated roll laminator or changing out your film. Your manual will give you precise instructions for threading your machine, adjusting heat and tension, and setting the speed so that you will get optimal results. If you get poor results, the first thing you should do is refer back to your user manual to make sure you’ve got everything set up properly.

Thread Like a Pro

As we stated above, your user manual will tell you exactly how to thread the laminating film through your machine. You want to follow those instructions carefully. Here are some common tips, though, to help you get things started:

1. Don’t let your top or bottom film rolls completely run out while the opposite roll is still running, as this will cause the heated roller to pick up adhesive from the remaining film roll.

2. Turn your machine off and wait for it to cool completely before changing out your film.

3. Load your film so the coarse (or dull) side is facing away from the heated rollers or heat shoes; the coarse side contains the adhesive, and you don’t want that coming in direct contact with your rollers.

4. After loading your film rolls onto the mandrels, make sure they are closed and locked. Also be sure to guide the film properly over the idler bars (again, refer to your user manual for the appropriate way to do this).

5. Use your threading card or a stiff piece of cardboard to guide the first few feet of your film into the nip. Again, refer to your user manual for specific instructions on how to do this. Once your film is completely threaded, you’re ready to heat up your machine and get started!

Don’t Let the Tension Get You

While your laminating machine’s tension is set at the factory and shouldn’t need frequent adjusting, if you’re getting wrinkles on the top or bottom film, stretching, or edge curls, this may indicate the need for tension adjustments. Curls will happen when your top and bottom tensions are uneven; typically, the film will curl in the direction of the tighter tension setting. So, if your film is curling downward, then your bottom tension is set too tight. If your film is curling upward, check your top tension. In general, film tension operates on a “less is more” principle—use just enough tension to keep the film taut, but not so much tension that the heated film stretches out. Again, your laminating machine’s user manual will give you information on how to set your tension correctly so you get consistently perfect results every time.

Turn the Temp Up (or Down)

Your items can get wrinkles or bubbles if the temperature settings aren’t correct for the type of film you’re using in your heated roll laminating machine. If the temperature is too low, you’ll get poor adhesion and the laminating film will separate from your documents; if the temperature is too high, you’ll get waves or ripples, called “heat wrinkles,” as well as possible wrinkles and bubbles. Also make sure your film is cooling properly as it comes off the back of the machine to help prevent heat wrinkles.

Trim Responsibly

When cutting apart and trimming down your laminated items, make sure to leave at least a 1/8” border around each edge—this will allow enough edge for the film to adhere both to itself and to your document, keeping your item clean from dirt, debris, and liquid. It will also help prevent the film from rolling back from and separating from your document, which can happen with an inadequate border. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the cutting and trimming, consider purchasing a zippy cutter, or a trimmer to make the job faster and easier. You may also want to consider rounding the corners of your documents with a corner rounder, both to avoid pointy edges and also to prevent the corners from peeling apart with wear.

Keep It Clean

As you use your heated roll laminator, you may occasionally find that adhesive has built up on your rollers; this will cause the items you’re laminating to get unsightly bumps. To keep your rollers clean, we recommend regularly wiping them off with a mildly abrasive cleaning pad dipped in denatured alcohol or mild soapy water (let them cool completely first). Your can also purchase one of our laminator cleaning kits which has everything you’ll need to keep your rollers clean and clear. Of course, as always, you’ll want to refer to your laminating machine’s user manual for specific instructions related to cleaning your machine’s rollers.

We hope that these suggestions will help you get great results from your heated roll laminator! You can also find answers to frequently asked questions on our roll laminating FAQ page. We want to remind you, once again, to read your machine’s user manual thoroughly and always follow the information it provides—this is the best way to keep your machine operating in tip-top condition for years to come so you get the great results you’re looking for every time!

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Pouch Laminating: Perfect Results Every Time!

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!

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Permanent Paper

Permanent Paper is a white matte polyester paper specifically designed for high heat laser printers and photocopiers. Permanent paper produces excellent image quality that can withstand and last in the harshest environments. It is tear‐resistant, waterproof and heat stable while running just like paper. When strength and toughness are needed, Permanent Paper is your solution. (50 and 100 count)
Please check your owner’s manual for the maximum thickness your copier can handle.
Not for use in inkjet printers!

Performance Features
•Prints like regular paper
•Weatherproof and greaseproof
•Doesn’t shrink or swell in heat or cold
•Solvent, chemical, blood and sweat resistant
•Perfs and punches beautifully
•High resistance to tearing, fading and scuffs
•Can be written on in pen/pencil, even after imaging
•Very high melt point 450° allows for use on wide range of equipment

Outdoor Signage •Menus, Greeting Cards •Instruction manuals•ID Cards, Tags & Badges•Maps & Charts
•Rulers, Bookmarks•Golf Score Cards•Business Cards•Luggage & Plant Tags•Advertising Displays

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3D Printing Filament

3D Filament offers 3 choices:
Standard PLA is our most popular filament and comes in basic color selections. It is economical and reliable and great for quick, inexpensive prototypes. No harsh fumes, no heated bed necessary and 100% bio-based.
Workday PLA is high-temp resistance and has the broadest selection of colors. A beautiful balance of performance, price and capabilities.
Pro PLA has better impact toughness than ABS with high-temp resistance to match. The PLA you need for uncompromising performance in a supremely easy to print material.

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Are you using the right film?

Laminating film is available in School Grade, General Purpose and Premium Grade.  Depending on your application you will need to choose one of these options. Schools most commonly use School Grade or General Purpose film to laminate teaching materials, posters and visuals. If you are looking for more rigidity or your document is going to be frequently handled, you might consider choosing a heavier gauge of film, like General Purpose.  Premium film is used for specialty items with heavy ink coverage. Remember to check your laminator to make sure that it can handle the thickness of film that you choose. A lot of school laminators are only capable of laminating documents with the lighter film weights. 

School Grade film is a Hi-Quality, low cost alternative film, ideal for porous paper stock and will adhere to light to medium ink coverage materials.

General Purpose film bonds well to copies and inkjet papers, works best and adheres to light or medium ink coverage materials.

Premium film is  a quality film that won’t cloud, fog or peel and is composed to offer a thicker feel. Works best on medium to heavy ink coverage materials. 

Always refer to your roll laminator manual for film thickness.