Everything I Know About Laminating, Pt 1

by Misty K.

Great stuff, laminating. Makes anything water resistant, dry erase, fade resistant, moderately chew proof…

You’ll find three types in our stores-

First up is 1.5 millimeter, the standard. Prefect for just about anything. Bulletin board sets? 1.5 mil. Shopping list or menu for your fridge? 1.5 mil. Printouts you’ll be using outside? 1.5 mil. Line signs? You get the idea.

3 millimeter. Twice as thick. When you are wanting a tight seal on thicker objects (file folder games; I’m looking at you). Photo collages. Got a lot of layers? 3 mil. Or  when want things to last practically foreeeeevver.

We also have a pouch laminator. This one’s special. Unlike the standard, you’re limited to the sizes of pouches on hand. But the plastic is hard, and much thicker. Also, some are magnets! Ask about this for bookmarks, id cards and so on.

Laminating in progess

I’d like to point out how even and nice those sheets are lined up. It’s worth it, trust me.

Things to do-

Prep you stuff first, if possible. Punch it out, make sure everything is glued down tight. If you’ve got time, run you hand over it and see if any of it peels up.

Dry paint (and glue). Please. Please. Fully dried adhesive is more likely to stay put. Also note that you can use things like a hairdryer or even a low oven to speed this up. Most paper will ignite somewhere between 400-500f but can scorch lower. (The machine gets _hot_ which is why things can burn if they wander out of the plastic “safe zone”.)

Spare us the glitter if you can. It gets everywhere. We’re serous. It shows up days later, even if we clean out the machine. Seal it with something first. Give it a good hard shake before you bag it to bring in. (Outside means less glitter on your carpets, FYI.)

Do ask before you laminate the first time with us. Each machine as idiosyncrasies. The two I’m used to are prime examples: one pulls strongly to the right and has occasional bubbling issues on the top side, the other simply stops sealing after forty feet. Neither one likes it’s buttons pressed in the middle. Or just skip the hassle entirely with drop off service. Call for current rates.

Running quite a few things though at once? Try and line things up with the lines on the plate. It’s not critical, but if all your bits are in line, cutting out your will be so much easier. Especially if you’re just doing square sheets!

I recommend stopping a few seconds after the first set goes under the rollers. This will ensure your pieces have a good seal, and you can take as much time as needed to set up your next set of items. More time, yes, but less wasted plastic! Don’t stop in the middle of something, if you can at all avoid it, though. It causes a line, and in some cases, even burn.

Laminating happens here...

See those vertical lines? Use them to make your cutting out easier.

Some things not to do-

Please, please, please be careful with what you want to run though the laminating machine.

No, we cannot run macaroni or button art though. Ditto zippers, Lego bricks, wood cutouts, resin items, chains, jewelry findings, keys, beads, magnets, sticker gems…Look, just because it was in scrapbook section doesn’t mean it will laminate well. Also, cotton swabs, pipe cleaners (chenille stems), foam board or puzzles.

Pom-poms will be crushed into sad lumps. The bigger ones might not seal. Puffy stickers and the thin foam cutouts are the same, but foam is not so noticeable. (That being said, a flattened puffy sticker or less fluffy foam cutout isn’t as depressing as a mashed pom-pom. )

Something to think about- Would I be willing to step on this barefoot? If yes, and no thicker than a piece of a standard cardboard* box, it should be OK. Otherwise, glue it on after laminating. If I step on it barefoot would it be crushed and ruined? Same thing, don’t send it though. Attach afterwards, hot glue or sticky tabs are usually best for this.

When in doubt, ask! We’re here to help!

Some types of ink or paper may not react well to the heat. Fax paper, most bar code labels and chart paper turn black. Some home printers will have color changes, either becoming darker or fading. (I haven’t been able to pin down if this is a brand or ink or type of printer in yet. We welcome your input!) When in doubt, run a test piece though. Or try giving a quick trip under a warm iron.

Yes, we can do tissue paper! Do set the speed up, to reduce the chance of burning. This is tricky, and do so at your own risk. Pockets and envelopes are also doable. Just run a razor blade over the opening to make it usable. Takes a steady hand though, be warned!

*Three mil for something that thick! Otherwise you’ll get a bad seal.


Part two is progress. Check back another time for troubleshooting and other things. Good a hot tip or good story to share? Tell us in the comments!

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