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Get on a Roll with Your Heated Roll Laminator

If you read our previous post, you’re already familiar with how to get great results from your pouch laminator. In this post, we want to give you some tips for getting those same great results from your heated roll laminator.

Heated roll laminators are a bit more expensive at the outset, so they’re typically used by those who regularly laminate large items like posters or signs, or who regularly laminate a lot of items in the same run (think schools, corporate offices, and print shops). The higher initial cost is offset by both the time efficiencies of the heated roll laminator as well as the cost efficiencies of laminating in bulk.

Unlike pouch laminators, heated roll laminators use two large rolls of laminating film mounted on spindles (called mandrels), which are threaded through the laminating machine and over two heated rollers. The documents to be laminated are fed into the nip (the space between the two rolls of film) and over the heated rollers which activate the adhesive and cause the film to bond to the documents. Roll laminators feed finished items out in one continuous sheet, so finished items need to be manually cut apart using scissors, trimmers, or cutters.

Heated roll laminators are a bit more complex to set up and operate than pouch laminators due to the multiple steps involved and the many moving parts; however, if you follow the steps below, you can get great results every time from your machine.

Follow the Rules

(Or, rather, the instructions.) Read the user manual that came with your laminating machine carefully and follow the directions exactly when setting up your heated roll laminator or changing out your film. Your manual will give you precise instructions for threading your machine, adjusting heat and tension, and setting the speed so that you will get optimal results. If you get poor results, the first thing you should do is refer back to your user manual to make sure you’ve got everything set up properly.

Thread Like a Pro

As we stated above, your user manual will tell you exactly how to thread the laminating film through your machine. You want to follow those instructions carefully. Here are some common tips, though, to help you get things started:

1. Don’t let your top or bottom film rolls completely run out while the opposite roll is still running, as this will cause the heated roller to pick up adhesive from the remaining film roll.

2. Turn your machine off and wait for it to cool completely before changing out your film.

3. Load your film so the coarse (or dull) side is facing away from the heated rollers or heat shoes; the coarse side contains the adhesive, and you don’t want that coming in direct contact with your rollers.

4. After loading your film rolls onto the mandrels, make sure they are closed and locked. Also be sure to guide the film properly over the idler bars (again, refer to your user manual for the appropriate way to do this).

5. Use your threading card or a stiff piece of cardboard to guide the first few feet of your film into the nip. Again, refer to your user manual for specific instructions on how to do this. Once your film is completely threaded, you’re ready to heat up your machine and get started!

Don’t Let the Tension Get You

While your laminating machine’s tension is set at the factory and shouldn’t need frequent adjusting, if you’re getting wrinkles on the top or bottom film, stretching, or edge curls, this may indicate the need for tension adjustments. Curls will happen when your top and bottom tensions are uneven; typically, the film will curl in the direction of the tighter tension setting. So, if your film is curling downward, then your bottom tension is set too tight. If your film is curling upward, check your top tension. In general, film tension operates on a “less is more” principle—use just enough tension to keep the film taut, but not so much tension that the heated film stretches out. Again, your laminating machine’s user manual will give you information on how to set your tension correctly so you get consistently perfect results every time.

Turn the Temp Up (or Down)

Your items can get wrinkles or bubbles if the temperature settings aren’t correct for the type of film you’re using in your heated roll laminating machine. If the temperature is too low, you’ll get poor adhesion and the laminating film will separate from your documents; if the temperature is too high, you’ll get waves or ripples, called “heat wrinkles,” as well as possible wrinkles and bubbles. Also make sure your film is cooling properly as it comes off the back of the machine to help prevent heat wrinkles.

Trim Responsibly

When cutting apart and trimming down your laminated items, make sure to leave at least a 1/8” border around each edge—this will allow enough edge for the film to adhere both to itself and to your document, keeping your item clean from dirt, debris, and liquid. It will also help prevent the film from rolling back from and separating from your document, which can happen with an inadequate border. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the cutting and trimming, consider purchasing a zippy cutter, or a trimmer to make the job faster and easier. You may also want to consider rounding the corners of your documents with a corner rounder, both to avoid pointy edges and also to prevent the corners from peeling apart with wear.

Keep It Clean

As you use your heated roll laminator, you may occasionally find that adhesive has built up on your rollers; this will cause the items you’re laminating to get unsightly bumps. To keep your rollers clean, we recommend regularly wiping them off with a mildly abrasive cleaning pad dipped in denatured alcohol or mild soapy water (let them cool completely first). Your can also purchase one of our laminator cleaning kits which has everything you’ll need to keep your rollers clean and clear. Of course, as always, you’ll want to refer to your laminating machine’s user manual for specific instructions related to cleaning your machine’s rollers.

We hope that these suggestions will help you get great results from your heated roll laminator! You can also find answers to frequently asked questions on our roll laminating FAQ page. We want to remind you, once again, to read your machine’s user manual thoroughly and always follow the information it provides—this is the best way to keep your machine operating in tip-top condition for years to come so you get the great results you’re looking for every time!

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Pouch Laminating: Perfect Results Every Time!

When you want to keep your menus clean, your posters reusable, your charts wipe-cleanable, and your documents durable, you laminate! If you’re like us, you’ll put your pouch laminator through its paces—you want it to last a long, loooong time, and you want to get the best possible results, every. single. time. Follow the tips below to keep your laminator running smoothly and your documents looking and feeling great!

Turn the heat down (or up)

Is your menu coming out of the laminator all wrinkled up? Are there bubbles? Curled up corners? If so, you most likely have the temperature turned up too high for the pouches you’re working with. The user manual that came with your laminating machine will give you great information on the correct settings you need for the materials you’re working with so your documents come out flat, smooth, and perfect!

On the other hand, if you run your wipe-off checklist through your pouch laminator and the pouch is cloudy, making it hard to see your list, then you probably need to turn your machine temperature up. Again, refer to your user manual for optimal temperatures needed to make your item come out crystal clear.

Keep it clean

Eventually, your pouch laminator will need to be cleaned; as you feed the pouches through, occasionally some of the film will adhere to the heated rollers, which can gum up your machine and cause your documents to come out with bumps and chunks. Your laminator’s user manual will have information about how and how often to clean your particular machine, but in general, you have a couple of cleaning options. You can run a sheet of 80# stock through the machine while it’s still hot to pull the gunk off the rollers. However, for best results, we recommend using a mildly abrasive cleaning pad (we like the 3M White Scotch Bride pad). Pour a little denatured alcohol on the pad or use a mild detergent to wipe the debris and melted film off the rollers. We also sell a pouch laminator cleaning kit if that’s more your style—again, refer to your user manual for cleaning tips specific to your laminating machine. 

Size it right

Not everything you’re laminating is the exact same size, which makes it really important that you select pouches that are sized appropriately for your paper. The rule of thumb is to leave a 1/8” buffer on each side so the adhesive adheres well to itself and bonds to the paper properly. This will keep moisture and dirt clear of the paper you’re protecting, and will help prevent damage.

“Mils” and why they matter

Just as not everything you’re laminating is going to be the same size, it’s also not going to be the same thickness, nor will it all be used the same way. In order to keep your document looking clean and new for years, you want to use the right pouch thickness. Laminating pouches are measured in “mils” which is one-thousandth of an inch. Most commonly, pouches are sold in thicknesses of 3, 5, 7, and 10 mils, with 3 mil pouches being the thinnest and most flexible and 10 mil pouches being the thickest and most rigid. In order to determine which thickness of laminating pouch to use, ask yourself two things:

1. What am I going to do with my item once it’s laminated? Will it need to be folded or flexible? Will it be handled frequently? Will it only be used incidentally? For items that will be handled frequently (think menus), you’ll most likely want to use something on the thicker end of the scale: 7 mil or 10 mil. For something that will be used just incidentally, or that might need to be folded or scored, 3 mil or 5 mil might be more appropriate.

2. How thick is the item that I’m laminating? Generally, you would use a pouch that is roughly the same weight as the item that you’re laminating. So, for newspaper or regular 20lb bond paper, you’d use a 3 mil pouch. For 24lb bond paper, you’d use a 5 mil pouch. If you’re laminating card stock, you’d want to use a 7 mil pouch, while 10 mil would be appropriate for poster board. 

Keep in mind, as we discussed above, that the temperature of your laminating machine may need to be adjusted depending on what pouch weight you’re using. 

We hope this information will help you get perfect, polished results with your pouch laminator!

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Permanent Paper

Permanent Paper is a white matte polyester paper specifically designed for high heat laser printers and photocopiers. Permanent paper produces excellent image quality that can withstand and last in the harshest environments. It is tear‐resistant, waterproof and heat stable while running just like paper. When strength and toughness are needed, Permanent Paper is your solution. (50 and 100 count)
Please check your owner’s manual for the maximum thickness your copier can handle.
Not for use in inkjet printers!

Performance Features
•Prints like regular paper
•Weatherproof and greaseproof
•Doesn’t shrink or swell in heat or cold
•Solvent, chemical, blood and sweat resistant
•Perfs and punches beautifully
•High resistance to tearing, fading and scuffs
•Can be written on in pen/pencil, even after imaging
•Very high melt point 450° allows for use on wide range of equipment

Outdoor Signage •Menus, Greeting Cards •Instruction manuals•ID Cards, Tags & Badges•Maps & Charts
•Rulers, Bookmarks•Golf Score Cards•Business Cards•Luggage & Plant Tags•Advertising Displays

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3D Printing Filament

3D Filament offers 3 choices:
Standard PLA is our most popular filament and comes in basic color selections. It is economical and reliable and great for quick, inexpensive prototypes. No harsh fumes, no heated bed necessary and 100% bio-based.
Workday PLA is high-temp resistance and has the broadest selection of colors. A beautiful balance of performance, price and capabilities.
Pro PLA has better impact toughness than ABS with high-temp resistance to match. The PLA you need for uncompromising performance in a supremely easy to print material.

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Are you using the right film?

Laminating film is available in School Grade, General Purpose and Premium Grade.  Depending on your application you will need to choose one of these options. Schools most commonly use School Grade or General Purpose film to laminate teaching materials, posters and visuals. If you are looking for more rigidity or your document is going to be frequently handled, you might consider choosing a heavier gauge of film, like General Purpose.  Premium film is used for specialty items with heavy ink coverage. Remember to check your laminator to make sure that it can handle the thickness of film that you choose. A lot of school laminators are only capable of laminating documents with the lighter film weights. 

School Grade film is a Hi-Quality, low cost alternative film, ideal for porous paper stock and will adhere to light to medium ink coverage materials.

General Purpose film bonds well to copies and inkjet papers, works best and adheres to light or medium ink coverage materials.

Premium film is  a quality film that won’t cloud, fog or peel and is composed to offer a thicker feel. Works best on medium to heavy ink coverage materials. 

Always refer to your roll laminator manual for film thickness.

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Popp Binding & Laminating has a new website!

Whew! We’ve just finished overhauling our site to give our customers a better online experience.

If you’re already one of our customers and haven’t created an account on our new site yet, please take the time to sign up now.

Here are just some of the new features we hope will make using our site more enjoyable:

  • Better overall organization
  • View future on-line order history
  • Search products by product description or SKU
  • Enhanced shipping options:
    – use your own UPS shipping number (3rd Party Freight)
  • Schools: Net 30 with a Purchase Order Number

We’ve got more great things planned. Check back soon.

If you experience any trouble while using our site or have any suggestions, please contact us at