There are several things that one must consider before purchasing a laminator; these include the price of the laminator, the size, brand, and most importantly, the film thickness. In fact, the film thickness should be considered first before buying a laminating machine.
If the paper you will be feeding into a laminating machine is thicker than the entrance of the machine, you should not go for it. The documents will be unable to pass through the heat rollers if they are thicker than the film at the entry. This is why you should always consider the film thickness when purchasing laminators.
Laminating films come in different thicknesses depending on several factors. These thicknesses range from thin and flexible to thick and rigid. They are usually measured in “mil,” which is the total measurement of plastic and adhesive within one layer of the laminating film; it is one-thousandth of an inch.
Before laminating in a machine, you must first of all select the laminating film of the document you will be feeding it. It is only after you have selected this that you can begin to laminate. If you jump into laminating without selecting the laminating film first, you will end up wasting your resources.
That being said, let’s see the various laminating film thicknesses and some of their typical applications. With that, you can decide which one is good for you or your business.
Thicknesses Of Laminating Films
There are seven various thicknesses of Laminating films, each with unique features and applications. Let’s find out what they are. Note that they will be expressed both in Mil and Microns.
- 1.5 Mil (38.1 microns): The 1.5 mil film thickness is quite prevalent in schools and other small establishments dealing with a lot of paper; This is mainly because it provides the most economical laminating solution for everyone. With this thickness, you are getting a large amount of film at a relatively low price.
- 1.7 Mil (43.2 microns): This kind of film thickness is offered in professional-grade films. If you are laminating a material that you want to remain flexible, like map books, you should use the 1.7 Mil film thickness.
- 3 Mil (76.2 microns): Just like the 1.5 Mil film thickness, the 3 Mil film thickness is extremely popular mainly because it offers adequate protection for flexible objects that are not handled frequently, like classroom posters.
- 5 Mil (127 microns): Have you ever held a restaurant menu? This thickness is just like that of a restaurant menu. It provides sturdy bases for printed materials and helps them withstand moderate usage. Such items can be folded and scored if needed.
- 7 Mil (177.8 microns): Need more strength and toughness on your item? The 7 mil film provides more rigidity than the previous 5 mil film. It is pretty popular when it comes to laminating large-sized documents like prayer cards.
- 10 Mil (254 microns): Documents laminated with the 10 Mil film are usually very rigid, and their toughness is compared to that of a credit card, ensuring they are not easily bent or damaged. The 10 Mil film is one of the most durable for laminating and can withstand frequent handling. It is perfect for laminating projects like luggage tags and identification cards.
- 15 Mil (381 microns): The thickest of them all, which is the 15 Mil laminating film. It is sometimes used for a textured, pressure-sensitive laminating film. To show you how thick it can be, it can be used to protect graphics laminating to flooring for special events.
How To Know What Thickness Is Best For You
From the film thickness mentioned above, it can still be hard to tell which one is suitable for you. There are some factors that will determine the one that you should go for. Basically, most laminating pouches come in 3, 5, 7, and 10 mil thicknesses, so you might not have any business with other films besides these.
To know the mil thickness of your laminating pouch, you must check its side where it is body written. However, the total thickness of the laminating pouch is twice as thick as the thickness listed on its side since the pouch comes with two layers. That means, if the specified film thickness of your laminating pouch is 3 mil, the total thickness would be 6 mil.
To determine which thickness is the most appropriate for your application, you should ask yourself these questions below;
How Frequently Will the item be handled?
Depending on how often you will be handling the item, the film thickness you will apply might vary. Basically, items that are handled less frequently or for temporary use are laminated with lower film thicknesses, while those that are handled more regularly are laminated with greater thickness.
Does The Item need to be flexible or stiff?
This will also depend on how well you aim to use the item you are laminating. If you want the item to be flexible, you should not use great film thickness; a 1.5 mil thickness might even be enough for it.
However, if you are looking forward to making the item stiff and resistant to bending, you should use a thicker laminating film like the 7 mil film.
What thickness Can Your Machine handle?
Note that it is not all laminators that can handle the full range of available film thicknesses. You should first check your laminating machine specifications before choosing any film thickness to use with it. This brings us back to the topic.
What Material Thickness Can A GBC Laminator handle?
GBC Laminators fall under home-use pouch laminators, like the entry-level models. They also include Scotch Laminators and can handle material thicknesses of 3 mil and 5 mil. Of course, they can handle a lower thickness like the 1.5 mil, but anything above the 5 mil won’t go through a GBC or Scotch Laminator.
Roll laminators used in schools make use of 1.5 and 3 mil laminating film. They can’t laminate anything thicker than that. If you need to work with something more significant than the specified thickness, you will need a bigger laminator.
What Is The Thickest Laminating Sheet?
As I mentioned earlier, the greatest film thickness is the 10 mil thickness. They are the thickest ones available and can offer adequate protection for documents that will require frequent handling.