Even with the relentless pace of office innovation, there is no better way to protect a printed document or image than a laminating machine. Whether in an office or a classroom, when you need to protect a page or give it a high-quality finish, lamination is your tool of choice.

Lamination will not only protect a printed page or document, but it also adds value with a scratch-resistant surface. The laminating machine can enhance the color of a printed image. It can add a rigid surface and protect against unsightly creases and folds. Finally, as many have discovered, even with added UV protection in inks, nothing can protect an image as well as a laminating machine.

At this point, the question for many office managers and teachers is whether to purchase a cold laminator or a hot laminator. Both machines offer advantages and disadvantages. We’ll look at both machines. You’ll have the critical facts, so you can make the best choice for your needs.

What is a Laminating Machine?

A laminating machine adds a plastic coating to a paper document, card, or image. This is typically accomplished by fusing the plastic over the paper using an adhesive or heat.

You have several options when purchasing and using a laminating machine. You can use a thicker plastic. This provides a thicker layer of protection and a more rigid surface. You can also select a thinner plastic for a lower cost laminate that is easier to handle and use.

The size of the machine is another option. The standard, document-sized laminators can be used on a desktop. When needed, there are larger, industrial-sized laminators can be used for everything from posters, banners, maps, and more.

Cold Laminators versus Hot Laminators

There are options for how the plastic is applied to the document or paper by the laminating machine. This is the primary difference between a cold laminator and a hot laminator.

Cold Laminators

A cold laminator will use pressure and an adhesive to secure the document between sheets of plastic. The pressure exerted on the rollers in the laminating machine is all that is required to finish the job.

Many users prefer cold laminators over a hot laminator. They find the process delivers superior quality without the fuss of using the heating elements in the hot laminator. There are advantages to the cold laminator:

  • There’s less set-up time and less maintenance with a cold laminator. These are simple, inexpensive machines that are generally easy-to-use. Many are manual and will require a user to operate.
  • The pressure from the rollers of a cold laminator will remove the unsightly bubbles that sometimes occur with a laminate.
  • The colors and quality of the printed document are typically better when you use a cold laminator. The heat of a hot laminator can cause colors to bleed or degrade.
  • You have the option of laminating only one side of a graphic, making cold laminators the best option for decals and adhesive decorations.

Hot Laminators

A hot laminator will use heat to melt or activate an adhesive material. This secures the plastic around the document.

This provides more durable protection and typically a faster laminate job. Advantages and items to consider regarding the hot laminator include:

  • You have additional applications for the laminating machine. This includes different materials like vinyl and a variety of heat settings.
  • The materials used in a hot laminator generally cost much less than the materials used in a cold laminator.
  • Some colors, inks, and materials can be damaged in the high heat generated by a hot laminator. You can purchase special plastic laminates to help protect your documents from the heat.
  • Using a hot laminator can be a skill that is difficult to master. It can take time and experience to deliver consistent results. The heating element can be extremely hot and dangerous to users who aren’t careful.

A Final Word on School Laminating Machines

With teachers struggling against a limited budget, it is important to make the right choice when purchasing a new laminating machine. You’ll need to consider not only how the machine will be used, but also the space and the users.

Start by considering the space you have set aside for the machine. Some industrial laminators are extremely heavy and will require additional electrical requirements. If you have only room on a desktop or a limited space, this will limit your choice of machines.

Next, consider the size of the documents you will be protecting. If you need to laminate banners or large posters, then you will need a larger machine. It may seem simple but determining the range of sizes you may encounter will help ensure you are minimizing costs and maximizing use.

Contact Advanced Imaging Supply for answers about laminating machines. Let our experts help you find the right machine for your needs.