How to prevent Wrinkles when Laminating

Laminating can be very hard, especially when you face some challenges and lack the know-how to solve them. One of the significant challenges people face during laminating is the wrinkling of the paper or film.

When the film of the laminator wrinkles, it will affect the paper you are laminating. Therefore, to prevent your documents from wrinkling when laminating, you must trace them back to the source.

In this article, I will show you how you can prevent wrinkles when laminating, so you can create smoother and more presentable laminated documents.

What are the causes of Wrinkles, and How do you Solve them When Laminating?

Wrinkles don’t just show up on your laminated papers if something hasn’t gone wrong with the Laminator itself. Before you laminate at all, you need to know if there are no risks of your laminated items getting wrinkled.

First, you should know the causes of wrinkles before learning how to prevent them. You might also need to understand why your already-laminated documents were all wrinkled so that you can avoid such a scenario next time.

The primary reason laminated items get wrinkled is inadequate supply roll tension. When this happens, the film will wrinkle simultaneously, causing the paper to wrinkle.

Every laminator, irrespective of the brand, requires a certain amount of resistance as the supply rolls unwind; this ensures that the film remains flat as it goes into the nib of the laminating rollers.

There are some other specifications depending on the thickness of the film. The thickness will determine how much tension you have to apply to it. For thin films, you only need to use low tension.

However, when it comes to thicker films, you need to apply more tension so it does not get wrinkled. It would help if you had an adequate roll tension to prevent wrinkles on the documents you want to laminate.

Also, you might notice severe wrinkles on both sides of your laminated items if you fail to close and lock your laminating rollers. It would help if you locked your laminating rollers before starting the process.

Leaving the rollers open or unlocked will cause severe wrinkles on both sides of your laminated items. To solve this issue, you have to check the opening/closing controls and ensure they are closed before starting laminating.

Another reason your laminated items might wrinkle is when you exceed the maximum laminating temperature of 40°C. If you are laminating above this temperature and some damp materials are involved in the process, there will surely be wrinkles. Also, ensure that the moisture content of the printed substrates remains at their lowest.

Sometimes, you might notice wrinkles at the bottom of your document but not at the top of the paper. If this happens, check that the bottom idler of your laminator is threaded according to the user manual’s direction.

If you follow the direction, the issue should be resolved. However, if you check the idler and the problem persists, there are some other things you can do to resolve the issue. They include;

  • Ensure the film path where the document also passes through is in the right setting for both the top and bottom webs
  • Next, make sure the film is threaded around the top and bottom idlers
  • Lastly, make sure the machine attains the optimal temperature of 40°C before putting the documents through

What is the Cause of Laminating Bubbles?

A similar issue to wrinkling that you might experience while laminating is the bubbling of the items. Sometimes, both wrinkles and bubbles are caused by the same conditions.

There are also instances when a whole different thing will cause bubbles on your laminated items, but you won’t notice any form of wrinkling. There are various reasons for laminating bubbles, and I will explain them and how to fix them in the subsequent paragraphs.

First is insufficient tension. If there is little or no tension in the laminator rollers, the film will fold or slack as it enters the nib. The low tension will cause bubbles when air is trapped between the film and the image.

You should know that inadequate roll tension will cause bubbles on the laminated items before it even causes wrinkles. So how do you fix this? Let’s find out.

All you have to do is adjust the tension of the feed spool to the standard specifications of the film in use. In essence, for thin films, use a lower tension, and use higher tension for thicker films.

High speed can also be another reason for bubbles on your papers. If you keep pushing in the items to be laminated faster than the laminator’s speed, you will end up finding bubbles on the laminated items.

From this situation, I believe the solution is more than evident. I’ll mention, though, that you have to reduce the rate at which you place the items into the laminator.

In addition, you might notice bubbles when hot spots and inkjet prints come into one picture. It takes a bit of precision when laminating inkjet prints. Inkjet printers dump too much ink onto the papers to make them look visible enough.

Ideally, you allow this ink to take enough time to dry up before laminating. If you are in haste and you try to laminate the print before the ink dries up completely, you might be exposing it to bubbles. I will explain further.

When a laminator is not in use and sits in the same position for a very long time without the rolls turning, the temperature degrees on different parts of the rolls when it gets back in use might be very distinct.

The scenario above is referred to as hot spots. For example, when a laminator runs at 80°C, the point where the rolls sit together might reach a temperature of 97°C.

Exposing a partly dry inkjet print to these hot spots will cause the ink to boil, thereby creating bubbles on the paper. The kind of bubbles caused by the situation can be very severe.

One of the solutions to bubbling caused by heat is not to allow the laminator rolls to sit idle for extended periods. Also, it would help if you worked with a maximum temperature of 40°C when laminating. In addition, ensure you use the appropriate pressure according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Furthermore, bubbles are caused by silvering in the lamination process. Silvering occurs when the items capture tiny air bubbles which might resemble gray or reflective areas in the process.

When these air bubbles are over light areas of the laminated item, you might not notice them, but they become more evident over dark spots. You might wonder about the cause of silvering during lamination; let’s find out.

When the laminating temperature is too low, silvering is most likely. The laminator is not allowed to warm up enough, or if the film temperature is too low to run the process.

Silvering might also occur when you turn on a laminator without turning on the motor; this will keep one side of each laminating roll relatively cool. These areas are known as cool spots.

Cool spots are usually not hot enough to melt the adhesive used in lamination and will cause bubbles on the laminated items. If bands of silvering do not correspond with bands of properly clasped areas, that implies one aspect of the roller was too cool.

Also, bubbles can occur on your laminated items if the adhesive does not bond properly to the paper. The bonding problems can be caused by heat, inadequate pressure, or too much speed.

Pressure is the least emphasized but has a lot of impact on lamination. If the force applied is not enough, it will cause silvering and prevent the adhesive from bonding correctly to the image.

Rounding Off

You should know how you can avoid wrinkles and bubbles when laminating. If you have already-laminated items with wrinkles, there is nothing you can do to solve the issue anymore.

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