Laminating is an effective way of protecting paper and other items from damage, thereby extending their lifespans. However, it can be very challenging to laminate, even if it sounds elementary and straightforward.
You don’t necessarily need to go to a school to learn how to laminate using a laminator, but you should have some idea about it and some of the challenges you are most likely to encounter as you laminate.
The truth is, there are so many problems associated with using laminators. Most of these problems, however, are faults that come from the operator; this is why you need basic knowledge on how to use a laminator.
A few challenges that you might face while using a laminator are wrinkling of the paper, burning of paper, bubbling of paper, etc. Amongst all the problems people face with laminating, laminator bubbles are the most common because even the slightest mistake can result in it.
When air bubbles get trapped in your laminate, it compromises its appearance, giving you an undesired result. In this article, I will show you how you can fix laminator bubbles and get rid of them for good next time you come across them.
However, they say prevention is obviously better than cure. You might want to know the reasons why you keep seeing air bubbles on your laminated items over and over again. In the subsequent subheading, I will describe some causes for air bubbles when laminating and how to prevent them next time.
Causes of Laminator Bubbles and Solutions
Bubbling issues are very common when it comes to laminate. When you notice bubbles in your laminated items, you should know that they come from the film itself. There are so many reasons for bubbles on laminator films.
Some of these reasons include insufficient tension on the supply roll, applying too much heat on a wet print, adhesive not bonding correctly to the media, and feeding the leading edge of the print too quickly into the laminator, to mention a few.
These reasons look more severe than they have been summarized. I will go into detail in subsequent paragraphs. Fortunately, they all have solutions and can be resolved by the operator without the help of a professional.
The first reason could be insufficient tension on the supply roll. Honestly, this is the most common reason for laminator bubbles. For every ten cases of laminator, over five of them are usually linked to insufficient tension.
When there is insufficient air tension, it will cause bubbles when air is trapped between the image and the film. This is usually because the film wasn’t taut or had no resistance as it entered the nib of the laminator.
To fix this problem, you must adjust the tension of the feed spool to the proper specification of the film you are using. Basically, the thinner the film, the lesser the tension and vice versa. If you are usually little roll tension for a thicker film, you are most likely to experience bubbles and then wrinkles.
The second cause of laminator bubbles is feeding the laminator too quickly. Usually, you are meant to put the paper into the nib one at a time, but pushing it faster than the speed of the laminator will cause bubbles and wrinkles. The solution to this is quite apparent.
Another cause is the heat issue in the form of hot spots. Hot spots are typical when laminating inkjet prints. It is no news that Inkjet printers dump a lot of ink onto the prints. Laminating an inkjet print that has not dried correctly will cause hot spots. I will explain in the next paragraph.
The problem is worsened when you allow your laminators to sit idle for long periods without the rolls turning or moving. When you turn on such laminators, there will be varying degrees of temperature on different parts of the heat rollers. These areas are known as hot spots.
For example, if you are running a laminator at 80°C, the point where rolls sit together might be at a temperature of 90°C; the latter becomes the hot spot. When a moist inkjet print comes in contact with this hotspot, it will cause the ink to boil and create bubbles.
The solution to this is also very obvious. You should not allow your laminators to stay idle for too long before turning them on, and also avoid putting moist inkjet prints in your laminator.
Another major cause of laminator bubbles is silvering. Silvering occurs when the laminator captures tiny bubbles of air. It appears like a gray or reflective area on the paper you want to laminate and might not be seen over light regions of the image. They are, however, noticeable on dark or black spots.
Silvering happens when you laminate at a temperature that is lower than usual. You must use the optimal laminating temperature to achieve desired results. It might happen when you don’t give the laminator enough time to warm up or when the film temperature drops relatively low.
When a large machine is warmed up without the motor, one side of each laminating roll remains relatively
cool. When lamination begins, a pattern of repeated silvering can be seen each time the cool side
of a roller is applied to the lamination.
These are known as cool spots. They are basically areas that are not hot enough to melt the adhesive.
If you notice silvering bands alternating with bands of properly adhered areas, this means that a part of your roller was too cool. This is likely to happen with the accumulation of debris or low temperate on a section of the roller. It could also be that the roller is damaged.
Bubbles will also occur if the adhesive does not bond properly to the image. Most times, it will look like a sheen on the image. The primary causes are inadequate heat, insufficient or uneven pressure, or high speed.
How To Fix Laminator Bubbles
Let’s assume the bubbles are now on your laminate; how do you fix them? While you prepare and work against it, it is also essential to learn how to fix it. Fortunately, setting it is very simple to do.
To solve this problem, heat a larger area of the laminate; to ensure it is more significant than just the bubbles area. In essence, you are heating the bubbled area as well as the area surrounding it.
When this heat is applied, the laminate will slip, thereby adjusting its dimension. After heating, use a 3-inch J-roller to rebond the contact adhesive, rolling until the adhesive is cool and has regained its strength again.