Lamination is simply the process of enveloping a document between two layers of plastic film and sealing its edges in order to provide a level of protection against outside influences that may cause damage. Photos, posters, letters, certificates and cards are all examples of documents that commonly utilize such a technique, and the items can either be produced professionally or with special laminating products that are used in the home. Of the different types of laminators that are available, those which use the process of thermal (or heat) lamination are actually layers of film which are constructed of a polyester base and resin. During the heating process, the resin layer melts and is then spread across the surface of the print through the means of pressure. Once spread, the adhesive begins to cool, hardening as it goes, in order to form a permanent bond between the film and the print. There are several types of laminating machines, each using different kinds of laminators. The easiest of these will allow you to feed the document into a laminating machine, where it comes into contact with the adhesive, which are then pressed together by rollers or - in some cases - an oversized plate. Using the Proper Laminator + Depending upon the material of the print to be protected, certain laminators must be used in order to complete the job correctly. That being the case, it's important to match the correct type of laminator with the particular material that's being used. In other words, prints of paper, wood or fabric are going to require different types of laminators. + Due to the steps that are necessary to successfully laminate a print, it's important to know the size of the document. Since lamination pouches are used during part of the process, you'll need to ensure that these are a proper fit before the technique can be successfully completed. + The frequency in which you use the lamination machine and the size of the jobs should be considered, as well. If you plan to use it on a daily basis, or for large lamination jobs, then it's best to invest in a heavy duty laminating machine. For particularly large jobs, you might be better off obtaining an industrial machine. + Thickness is an important consideration, as well, since prints that are of a thicker nature will need to utilize a spring-loaded roller in order to be fed through the machine properly. The advantage to this type of tool is that it will automatically adjust to the thickness of the material that's being introduced. + Machines that are equipped with a stand-by mode and a readiness indicator are best for those times when you're planning to use them throughout the day, such as in an office environment. Hot Lamination Different jobs will require specific types of laminators - either hot or cold - depending upon the material and desired effect. + For documents that are up to 20" in width, pouch laminators are used. Photographs, ID tags and other jobs that are of similar size would do best using this approach. + You'll need to use a roll laminator if you're planning to process prints that are between 20" and 60" wide and 1" in thickness. + Dry mounting is the most expensive of the three types, and is performed by using a tissue adhesive as well as precise heat and pressure regulations, in addition to the necessary time that it takes to apply a substrate to the product. Specialized machinery needs to be used in order to perform this technique, and is often used in professional print shops. Cold Lamination Tape lamination uses a cold version of adhering a protective plastic film to the print. By inserting a pre-wound, rolled cartridge of laminated film into the machine and introducing the document, both the adhesives and the print are pulled into the machine with two rollers after pushing a button or using a hand crank. These types are often used in the home environment, office, photo-finishing labs and sign shops. Various Types of Finishes There are five basic finishes that can be applied to a laminated product. Depending upon the type of effect that you wish to produce will determine the best finish for the job. + Standard Clear - produces a glossy finish + Satin - reduces glare without frosting + Matte - applies a slightly frosted finish + Crystal - produces a granular texture + Scratch Resistant - hard finish for extra protection With the right tools, you can produce a variety of high quality products that are suitable for framing, posting or inserting into a binding that houses keepsakes. Laminated documents are also more professionally protected when prepared for packaging, in the event that documents must be transported through mailing or shipping services.
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