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At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Laminators
Do you want to keep them in good shape for a long time?
Well, if you’re looking to keep your documents safe and in good condition for long, the answer lies in laminating them.
Read on to find the best laminating machine that suits your needs.
Need a quick decision? Here's my top 5 Laminating machine picks:
What Is A Laminating Machine? Why Do you Need It?
A laminating machine, is an appliance used to fuse two plastic pieces with a substrate like fabric or paper in between them.
By covering it with a flexible plastic material, the machine helps keep papers from wear and tear, water, and wrinkle development.
A laminator can be huge and stationary or small and portable. The range of size depends mostly in output requirements.
Here’s why you need one:
Here are some of the items that people often laminate:
Let’s now look at our laminator reviews. We’ll focus on small laminating machines for small- to medium-scale laminating.
OUR BEST LAMINAting MACHINE REVIEWS 2021
1. AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator
You know why this AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator machine deserves the top spot? Well, because it has so much to offer. For starters, this pouch laminator is pretty versatile, easy, and whether you’re looking for a home machine or a fine laminator for office use, it will work perfectly for you.
If you’re targeting ease of use rather than size or output, you will find this machine perfect because the guidelines contained in the manual are easy to read and understand. Furthermore, the machine features a simple, 2-roller feeding system.
Another aspect that is connected with the ease of use is the indicator light that helps you know when the machine is sufficiently warm so you can start laminating.
If you’re in a hurry, this little AmazonBasics machine will be very helpful.
In four minutes, you can start laminating and after that take less than a minute to laminate each paper.
And again, the machine features two separate heat settings, one for 3-mil-thick laminating films and another for 5-mil films. That way, you get to select the heat setting that suits your laminating films and save time if you’re working with 3-mil films.
This is a small size pouch laminator with limited output, and we only recommend it for small-scale laminating at home or in a small organization.
2. Scotch Thermal Laminator
The function of a jam release lever is to stop the process when there’s jamming, and this can be very helpful for saving the machine’ components as well as time. You will be glad to see that the Scotch Thermal Laminator has this handy feature.
What we loved most about the machine is that it is easy, lightweight and portable, a great size and it does what it’s meant to do perfectly. But, you have to realize that the compact design and portable nature mean that the output is somewhat compromised.
That means you can only laminate items that are up to nine inches wide, and you can only a few dozen papers per day.
If you’re looking for a laminator for business use, this product will be unsuitable. But, if you need a great laminator for home use or small scale use at your business, the Scotch Thermal Laminator will be a great selection.
It is also very easy to use, as it features ergonomically designed controls, and there’s also the convenience offered by the jam-release lever.
When it comes to speed, the machine is also great, as it takes just 7 minutes to heat up. Moreover, it laminates more than 11 inches per minute, which means you can do a 9-inch wide paper in less than a minute.
3. Swingline Lamination Starter Kit
Are you only getting started with laminating?
How about you get the Swingline Lamination Starter Kit, which comes with 15 pouches, a mini hole punch, and a 9-inch trimmer alongside a sleek pouch laminator?
If you’re on a budget and looking for an economical way to start, this kit is the best option for you.
This laminator features a single power setting, which, of course, simplifies the use, but what makes the operation really easy is the jam release lever and that indicator light.
The warm up takes only four minutes, which is pretty quick. And you don’t have to count the minutes or keep a stopwatch; when the machine is adequately hot, the indicator light turns on to notify you it is time to start laminating.
Some substrates are sensitive to heat and if you have to laminate such, then you have to do cold lamination. If you’re using this little laminator, you have nothing to worry about as it supports cold laminating and you only have to flip a switch.
We recommend this machine for small scale use at home or in your office. Remember, it can only handle a width of up to 9 inches.
4. Blusmart OL288 Laminator
Jam release buttons are great for preventing papers from getting stuck in the machine. But when you come across a laminating appliance with an ABS button in addition to the jam release button, that’s much better.
The ABS button comes in handy when there are papers stuck in the machine, and you’re looking for a quick way of removing them before they damage the internal parts. You just hit the button, and the stuck items are removed.
Sometimes, you will need to laminate items that are sensitive to heat, and in that case, you got to have a quality machine that can laminate both hot and cold, like this Blusmart laminator.
The preheating time needed for this machine is only a little, ranging from 3 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the laminating material, which makes it just as easy to use quickly as the others in this list.
This laminator is perfect for laminating documents on a small scale at home or work. You can laminate items with the size of a business card to the size of an A4 paper.
A cool feature is the intelligent temperature control, which ensures the machine doesn’t get exceedingly hot. The working temperature ranges between 122 °F to around 131 °F, which is fairly safe.
5. Fellowes Saturn3i Laminator
Looking for the best laminator machine with regards to speed?
In that case, we’d encourage you to go for the Fellowes Saturn3i Laminator which warms up in just one minute and laminates quality documents in just a few seconds. It's one of the fastest and most simple products available.
This machine accepts papers with a width of up to 12.5 inches.
And you know what we loved most about it? The quality that it offers. If you want to give your documents the best protection, this laminator would be a pretty good choice.
Do you love free items? When you get this machine, you also get free laminating pouches (ten of them!).
The machine accepts different pouch thicknesses. You can use it to laminate 5-mil-thick pouches as well as 3-mil-thick pouches.
It also has a unique auto shut off technology. After a period of inactivity, the machine turns off on its own. This feature is also very useful for conserving electricity.
6. Scotch PRO Thermal Laminator
This quality laminating machine comes with a 2-roller system and you know what that means?
Okay, let’s assume you want to laminate old photographs or something else that is sensitive to heat. If you use a normal hot laminator, the item you’re laminating will get damaged, so you got to use cold.
Now, rather than buying a cold laminator, you can get a 2-roller system laminator, like this Scotch Pro machine, that is able to switch between hot and cold lamination.
Speed is another benefit associated with the appliance. It heats in just 5 minutes and laminates every item at a fast rate of 15 inches per minute.
And now that it accepts a maximum pouch width of around 9 inches, that means it laminates each item in a matter of seconds.
7. Marigold LM401 Thermal Laminator
If you need a nice, portable laminator for home or small-scale professional use, you will find the Marigold LM401 Thermal Laminator one of the best options. It’s a super-slim, lightweight machine that you can carry around without a problem.
Something else you will love about this small laminating machine is the sturdy, quality heating system, which makes certain that the results are great every time.
Some laminators come with too many controls that make the operation rather confusing, but this machine is different. For once, the design is perfectly streamlined, making access to the features really easy. You’ll find it easy to use even if you’re a beginner.
If you’re looking for utmost convenience, you might find the carrier-free aspect of this machine useful. And of course, it further simplifies the operation.
But, we have to inform you that carrier-free machines are generally not as durable as those with carriers because the carrier is meant for protecting the rollers from the adhesive on the laminating film.
Got an eye for elegance, then this is the laminator for you. It features a polished-white, ultra-slim design that displays a professional touch.
As with many other machines, in just about 3 to 4 minutes, the machine is sufficiently warm and ready to laminate.
8. Fellowes Jupiter 2 Laminator
With the Fellowes Jupiter 2 Laminator, you get to tap into the power of the InstaHeat Technology. This is a fine innovation that ensures there’s no waiting when you want to laminate. In just 60 seconds, the machine is warm enough and ready to laminate.
The machine removes the need for manual adjustment for different pouch thicknesses. When you put your pouches in there for lamination, the appliance’s AutoSense Technology kicks in and makes an automatic adjustment for a perfect job.
You can use pouches of any thickness without having to adjust the settings manually.
When you’re targeting small-scale to medium output, you need a robust laminating machine like this Fellowes laminator. With it, you can laminate hundreds of items per day and achieve clean, professional results for all of them.
As you will learn later, the more the rollers, the better the results. While most other small laminators have up to two rollers, this one has 6 of them, meaning the finish is of exceptional quality every time. That’s why we maintain that this is the best laminator for foiling.
Talking of the speed, nothing does it faster than the Jupiter 2. First, we mentioned it warms up in 60 minutes, but additionally, the laminating speed is 30 inches per minute, which is quite high. This makes it one of the best laminators available.
9. Zoomyo Z9-5 laminator
Want to save power when laminating your items? You will be glad to know that the Zoomyo Z9-5 laminator saves up to 25 percent power compared to most other laminators, thanks to its Eco-PTC-Technology.
This machine allows you to laminate items both hot and cold. You can use it to laminate items that are up to 5 mils (when doing hot laminating) or 10 mils (when doing cold laminating).
It is perfect for frequent lamination at home or in a small office that has small-scale to medium-scale laminating requirements. It’s ideal for laminating ID badges, menus, price lists, photos, charts, and other documents.
The rollers are coated with silicone, and this ensures the seal applied to your projects is smooth and uniform. If you want results that are truly professional, you won’t go wrong with this machine.
With the Z9-5, there are no worries about jams, as the ABS jam release feature helps you remove the stuck documents quickly.
Everything from the design to the results is remarkable, and the weight is also perfect for portability.
10. 3M Laminator Kit
The thing we found most interesting about the 3M Laminator Kit is that it comes with many different laminating pouch sizes to fit all the needs of someone doing small-scale laminating.
For instance, there are 20 pouches for 2.25 by 3.75 inch pouches and 20 pouches for 9 by 11 inch pouches.
What’s more, these pouches are not just compatible with this laminating machine; they work well with almost any thermal pouch laminator out there.
Measuring about 16 by 8 by 5 inches, the machine is small enough to fit a tight working space and now that it has a small weight of only about 4 pounds, carrying the machine around is a piece of cake.
This laminator is, without doubt, an excellent choice for you if you’re looking for a good portable option.
Ideally, the appliance is meant for home use or light commercial use. That’s because it accepts substrates with a maximum width of 9 inches and a maximum thickness of 5 mils.
While that might be a little inadequate for heavy commercial use, it’s perfect for small-scale lamination at home or in the office.
Being manufactured from sturdy materials, the machine is quite durable, lasting many years with the right maintenance as described later on in this article.
Things to Consider Before Buying A laminator machine
Laminating machines are available in all sizes and shapes and picking out the model that fits you best can be a little challenging. So, therefore, we have outlined a few factors you should consider when shopping for a laminator to make sure you go for the great one.
Considering your budget is still an essential aspect when it comes to narrowing down your options.
Depending on the size of the machine and the functionalities, laminators range in cost of around 50 to 1000 US dollars.
If you’re looking to laminate regular-sized papers at your home or workplace, a laminator going for around 50 to 400 dollars should be sufficient.
Keep in mind that cold laminators are generally more expensive that hot lamination machines.
What is to be laminated
If the materials you’ll be laminating are sensitive to temperatures, then you might want to go for a cold laminating machine.
Again, if you’ll be laminating photographs most of the time, then a laminating machine with a minimum of four rollers will be suitable.
Remember, the higher the number of rollers, the better the results.
Size of your substrates
Come closer, this is important. You see, if you get a pouch laminator, you can only laminate substrates (paper or fabric) with a maximum width of 14 inches. That means you won’t be able to laminate things like banners, posters and big maps.
So, don’t just think about your laminating needs now, think of your needs down the road.
We’d advise you to go for a roll laminator, as it enables you to laminate items that are between 12 and 70 inches wide.
Different laminators have different outputs. In general, pouch laminating machines can only laminate small to medium volumes of substrates. By small volumes, we mean a few dozen items, and by medium, we mean a few hundred items a day.
Roll laminators, on the other hand, are suitable when you want to laminate many substrates; they’re ideal for medium to high volumes of output. With a roll laminator, you can laminate several thousand items a day.
The thicker the laminating film, the better the protection. But then again, the thicker the film, the less the flexibility and the harder it is to fold the laminated paper.
Film thickness is an essential consideration especially because different laminators work with different thickness.
Pouch laminators often work with films with a thickness of up to 10 mils while roll laminators work with thinner films of around 1.5 to 3 mils.
Will kids use it?
Laminators are generally meant for use by adults. A pouch laminator, however, can be used by kids under supervision by an adult. That’s because its hot components aren’t exposed, unlike those of the roll laminator.
If space is an issue to you, then you’re better off with a pouch laminator. Roll laminators consume more space and may be unsuitable where space is limited.
Will the documents be mounted on foamboard?
If the pictures, maps or posters are going to be mounted on foamboard, it’d be better to use a roll laminator.
How To Use A LAMINATOR
Every laminator is more or less the same to use, but you should still consult the instruction manual or website of the one which you choose to buy. The video below will cover some basics though.
Types of lamination machine
If you’re looking for a laminator but are confused about what type to get or about the differences between the various types available, this section should be helpful.
Here’s a rundown of the main types of laminators.
A pouch laminator is relatively smaller, and it’s a more portable laminator.
This sort of laminator uses a definite size of plastic line with adhesive to encase a substrate. The plastics are known as pouches, and that’s where the laminator gets its name.
So, what you have to do is take the substrate you’d like to laminate and put it in the pouch before placing the pouch in the protective covering, or carrier, and running it through the laminator.
The machine heats up the adhesive, and the plastics adhere together, encasing the substrate.
Pouches have a thickness of up to 10 mils, and the thicker the pouch, the sturdier the final product. As pouches are thicker than the laminating film used with roll laminators, pouch laminators are better at offering protection to the document.
Pouch laminators can do both hot and cold laminating, depending on the model.
Also called film laminators, roll laminators are commonly found in schools and other bigger organizations, as they’re mostly meant for professional or commercial use.
But, that’s not to say roll laminators are not meant for individual or home use; you can benefit a lot from the functionalities offered by a good roll laminator.
A roll laminator uses huge film rolls to laminate substrates of a wide size range, normally from around 12 to around 70 inches in width. And when the machine is done laminating, it also trims the document.
The substrate is normally placed on a plastic sheet with adhesive. The top roller holds the laminate’s top layer in position, and when the switch is flipped, the substrate gets pressed in between the two layers of film.
The heaters spread heat over the film, and the glue adheres permanently round the document.
If you’re looking for a machine that is totally kid-safe, then you might want to consider getting a cold laminator.
This kind of laminator doesn’t use heat to bind the laminating film. Instead, it uses a combination of pressure and adhesive to laminate your documents.
One great advantage of the cold laminators is that they ensure water tightness and amazingly, they’re the only type of laminators able to pull that off.
Again, unlike the hot laminators (pouch and roll), they don’t need a power source. So, the next time you hold an outdoor festival and you need to laminate documents, the correct laminating machine to use will be a cold laminator.
Of course, cold laminators compromise rigidity a bit but they’re also safe for use as no heat is employed; that’s why we said that they’re ideal for kids.
These are the laminators that don’t use carriers. While they may seem like a good upgrade, we’d advise staying off of these for this reason – the carrier helps to ensure that the glue on the laminating film doesn’t collect on the rollers.
This function helps save the machine from failure and thus improves its longevity. Taking away the carriers equals reducing the machine’s longevity.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why do I need to laminate documents?
To preserve them. The laminating film offers the documents protection against moisture and general wear. The primary purpose of laminating papers is to boost their longevity, and that’s something we all want.
3. How long does the laminating process take?
To laminate paper efficiently, allow the machine to heat up for about ten minutes. After that, 30 seconds should be enough to laminate each paper.
4. Is it possible to fold the laminated document?
Yes, it’s possible. Folding it with the hands might be a little challenging especially if the laminating material is thick or hard but with a scoring machine, folding the laminated document will be fairly easy.
5. Is it possible to cut the laminated paper?
Yes, but the difficultly of cutting differs with the thickness of sturdiness of the laminating material. The thicker the laminating material, the harder it is to cut the laminated paper. If you want to cut laminated paper, you’d better use a sharp and firm cutting implement like a pair of sharp scissors.
6. Can I laminate old photographs?
One factor to keep in mind is that the heat can ruin old photographs, particularly if an inkjet printer was used to print them. Therefore, if you want to laminate old photographs, you’d better use a cold laminator or a pouch laminator with a cold setting.
There you have it – a review of the top 15 laminator machines plus their features. We hope you have selected one or two that fit you but if you haven’t, go through the review again, carefully scrutinizing the features to know exactly what works for you. The buying guide should help you know what to look for.
We have done our best to pick and review the finest laminating machines that will work excellently for you and stay useful for a long time.
But remember, the length of the laminator’s life depends a lot on how you maintain it, so be sure to clean the rollers periodically and observe the other maintenance measures we talked about.
We hope you found this post useful and that you will share it with your friends. Thanks in advance.