Should I use a hot or cold laminator?

A laminator uses heat to seal the lamination (plastic pouch) around the document. To begin lamination, the laminator must be primed (allowed to pre-heat). While this is happening, it is common to prepare the document for lamination, by placing it in the plastic pouch. Larger documents to be laminated may not use a pouch, but instead be placed between two sheets of plastic. Once the laminator is ready, the prepared document (and surrounding plastic) is placed inside and the laminator is closed around it for a few seconds while the plastic is fused

Sealing a document within a laminating pouch provides a durable and wipe clean surface which is totally sealed and waterproof.

Laminators are available as pouch laminators and roll laminators. Laminators are available in both hot lamination and cold lamination. What kind of laminator you use depends mainly on the kind of document you need to laminate.

Hot Lamination: Hot laminators are the most common types of laminators. They use heat (180 to 300 degrees F) to laminate documents. The heat melts an adhesive in the plastic laminate, which sticks to the material being laminated. Hot lamination can be used with any flat items that do not include inks or materials that will run or melt when exposed to high temperatures.   

Hot laminators provide a better quality, more durable lamination that is more resistant to wear and tear. This is the preferred method of laminating for materials that are not effected by heat.   

Hot pouches: Hot laminating pouches consists of two layers: a polyester-base film layer and an adhesive resin layer. When you run the pouch through your hot laminator, the heat melts the adhesive resin layer, which then spreads over the document, hardening as it cools and creating a bond between the paper and the polyester-based layer of the pouch.   

The polyester and adhesive content in hot laminating pouches is defined as a ratio, such as 3/2 or 1/4. The first number represents the polyester content, while the second represents the adhesive content. Ratios with larger polyester contents produce stiffer lamination. Ratios with more adhesive contents will have a stronger bond. Stronger bonds are necessary when laminating thicker materials such as substrate backing or hard plastic.   

Cold Lamination: With cold lamination, heat sensitive materials like photos, glossy paper and inkjet printed business cards can be easily laminated.

Cold laminators are used when the items being laminated are sensitive to heat. For example, some ink jet printers use inks that can melt when heated. Other types of printers use heat sensitive paper, similar to what is used in a fax machine. For these types of appications the cold laminator is the best choice

Cold lamination is your best option when laminating heat-sensitive documents. These would include faxes, photos, and documents printed with an ink jet printer.   

Cold laminating pouches use an adhesive that is activated with pressure. Cold laminators are generally easy and safer to use than hot laminators because they do not get hot and in many cases do not even use electricity.   

Cold pouches: Cold lamination is used for heat sensitive documents. Cold laminating pouches uses an adhesive that is activated by pressure instead of heat. This allows you to laminate items such as faxes, photos, and ink-jet printer paper