Which Laminating Film Do I Use?
Laminating film comes in three broad categories as well as a whole range of finishes. The type of document you want to laminate, and the machine you have available will both help determine which film you should use.
The most popular laminating film UK buyers choose is hot laminating film, also known as standard, thermal or premium film. The hot lamination process uses heat to melt the film directly on to the surface of the document. Depending on the machine, the temperature can reach from 230° to 270°F. As the melted film cools, it forms a strong and permanent bond, ensuring excellent long term protection. Hot lamination is ideal for posters, banners, menus and legal documents, to name just a few items. But there are other types of laminating film available, and it is worth exploring your options to be sure you are getting the best possible results.
Pressure sensitive film, also known as cold lamination film, is self-adhesive. Instead of using heat to form a bond, it uses pressure to bring the self-adhesive layer into contact with the surface of the document. This film is therefore suitable for laminating heat-sensitive materials such as ink jet prints, artwork, photographs, vinyl signs, banners and POS displays. A surface that might be degraded by heat should nevertheless be capable of coping with cold lamination.
The third category of laminating film is low melt film. Like hot laminating film, low melt film uses heat to form a bond. But as its name suggests, it has a lower melting point than hot laminating film, working at temperatures ranging from 180° to 230°F. This makes it acceptable for some types of document that cannot withstand the high temperatures of hot laminating film. Low melt film is often used for laminating offset prints, digital prints and commercial artwork.
Cast and Calendar Films
As well as dividing laminating films into broad categories, they can also be categorised by the way they are made.
Cast films offer the highest quality, least shrinkage, and greatest durability. They are therefore more expensive to buy. Cast films are suitable for irregular surfaces that require stretching and the film fitting to contours.
Calendar films are cheaper to produce, thicker and stiffer, with better resistance to abrasion, but don’t quite match cast films for ultimate quality.
Categorising Laminating Films by Finish
Although available in a wide range of finishes, the most popular laminating film UK users choose is probably the Gloss finish, followed by Matte and Lustre.
● Gloss finish is shiny and gives the laminated document fine detail, a smooth touch and bright colours.
● Matte finish is textured, making it good for hiding smudges and fingerprints. It diffuses light, which means that in harsh lighting conditions it prevents glare marring the the document.
● Luster combines the advantages of both gloss and matte, giving a bright, vibrant image while at the same time preventing glare and going a long way to reduce fingerprints and smudges.
Other finishes include sandtex, an anti-graffiti surface for using outdoors, soft touch, and even biodegradable laminating film.
Thickness, width and core size of the laminating film
The film’s thickness, core size and width are some of the important factors you should consider before making a purchase.
● Thickness: Film thicknesses range from 1.2mm to 10mm. Not all laminating machines will accept all films, so be sure to choose a thickness that is compatible with your laminator.
● Width: Film come in differents widths. Be sure the film you are buying is suitable for your machine.
● Core size: Core size is the diameter of the core around which the film is wrapped. Check your laminator’s specifications, and ensure that the film you want to buy is suitable. Core sizes are expressed as a number such as 1, 2.25, 3, etc.
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