Laminating Glossary of Terms

December 11, 2019
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Laminating Glossary of Terms

If you're brand new to laminating, some of the terminology you may come across might be a little confusing. To help end the frustration, we've compiled a list of the most popular lamination terminology terms, along with their definitions. This laminate glossary will help you get a handle on the basics of laminating. And once you've finished reviewing the data, you can browse our best laminators and supplies.

  • Adhesive - This is what is melted in a hot laminating process and creates the bond between paper and plastic. The adhesive side is normally the cloudy or dull side but will become clear after it has been heated.
  • Carrier - A carrier prevents excess laminate from getting all over your machine. It’s essentially a folded piece of paper you stick your document in before laminating it. A carrier has a slick interior so it won’t get totally gummed up from excess laminate.
  • Clouding - An effect sometimes called “ghosting”, which is typically caused by the heat setting being too low, and the film adhesive not having enough heat to effectively activate and bond. See "Milky".
  • Cold Laminator - A laminator that uses pressure to activate a cold adhesive. Ideal for preserving heat-sensitive documents and photographs.
  • Cooling Fans - Fans used to burst cool air. Used in high-volume environments to dissipate heat from the document as soon as possible - thus promoting curl-free and wrinkle-free results.
  • Cooling Tray - A flat plate or surface at the rear of a pouch laminator which allows pouches to remain flat and cool down without thermo-warping, while exiting the laminating process.
  • Core - Most laminators, 12 to 27 inches, use lamination with a 1" core. The core is the hole that runs through the lamination film. Roll laminators, 40+ inches, use anywhere from a 2.25" core up to a 3" core. Your laminator manual should show you what size core you need to use.
  • De-Curling Bar - A bar used in the one-sided laminating process; the print is typically run around this bar to counteract the natural curl which comes from applying film to only one-side of a sheet. This is sometimes used to “break” the fibers in the sheet for better flattening of sheets.
  • Dry-Mounting - A thermal process, which uses a heat-activated adhesive (dry mount tissue) to adhere the back of an image to foam board, mount board or another paper-surface mounting substrate. It may be done with a press or with some types of laminators. It has often been used by framers in the art and photo markets.
  • Feed Guide - A small edge guide located on the feed tray of a two-sided laminator, allowing the accurate and square feeding of prints into the machine.
  • Heated Roller - A laminating roller that contains a heating element inside, typically a chrome or silicon roller, and which allows the source of heat to be more directly applied to the laminate and piece being laminated. Most heated roller applications achieve 15-20% better bond than a heat-shoe machine, often important in digital print applications.
  • Heat Shoe - A Teflon® or non-stick coated metal shoe which allows the flow and heat-up of laminate film prior to entering the nip rollers.
  • Hot Laminator - A laminator that uses heat to activate a thermal adhesive.
  • Idler Bar - An idler is a round shaft that is set in bearings so that it can roll freely. They are used in roll laminators to guide the path of lamination film. For example; if the film needs to go out and around an object in the machine a manufacture will place an idler at the outer most tangent of the pathway. Since the idler can roll freely it will allow film to pass over it without creating any additional friction.
  • Laminator - A machine that uses adhesive to seal plastic over paper for the purpose of protecting the paper from tears, spills, and dirt, or sometimes to add a specialty finish or feel.
  • Mil - A mil refers to a thousandth of an inch, as well as how thick a pouch is. Common sizes are 3, 5, 7, and 10 mil. The higher the number, the better protected your document will be because it will be more rigid.
  • Milky - An effect sometimes called “ghosting”, which is typically caused by the heat setting being too low, and the film adhesive not having enough heat to effectively activate and bond. See "clouding".
  • Platens - Large metal plates which are heated, and provide the heat source.
  • Pouch - The plastic sheath you place your document in for lamination. These supplies are available in a variety of sizes so you can laminate small items such as business cards and larger ones including menus and posters.
  • Pouch Laminator - A laminator that works with individual lamination pouches, encapsulating the sheets into a pouch that is slightly larger than the print itself.
  • Reverse Function - A mode found on most high-quality laminators. It comes in handy if your document ends up getting jammed in the machine.
  • Roll Laminator - A laminator that works with a continuous roll of laminate. Often used for larger format prints and higher volume users. Can accomplish one or two-side laminating, depending on the machine.
  • Rollers - Used to pull the document through the machine. Hot laminators use heated rollers.
  • Self-Adhesive Pouches - Supplies that don’t need to be heated up in order to laminate your item. Typically used during cold lamination. They can also be used manually.
  • Silicon Rollers - Rubberized rollers which are used in most laminators, and offer good pressure and bond strength when applying thermal laminating films.
  • Sticky-Back Pouches - These items have a sticky back so you can adhere your document to a surface.
  • Throat - The feed opening width on a laminator.
  • UV/UVA/UL Pouches - These supplies will protect your document from the elements, including the sun’s rays. They’re good to use if you’re creating signs, banners, etc. that will be placed outdoors.
  • Variable Heat - The heaters can be set as required to handle varying combinations of material and documents.
  • Variable Speed - When the laminator speed is adjustable for various materials and documents. On a fixed-temperature machine this can be used to effectively vary the heat: move more slowly, apply more heat; push it through faster, less heat is used.


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Mallory Morsa, Binding101 Product Expert About the Author • Mallory Morsa has been a part of Binding101 since 2008 and has experience in several departments within the company. She began in customer service and sales where she honed in her skills to provide the customer with professional, fast, and accurate information. Shortly after, she was promoted to sales supervisor and also took on the role of product expert, training the team on new products. Throughout this time, she also wrote content for the site, as well as contributed stock photography and videography. As the team grew, she moved to an official position as the content specialist and social media manager. Her skills in these variety of areas give her the unique expertise to not just create content for the web, but to create content for you, the customer. She has a Bachelor's degree in business management and marketing, was on the Dean's List each year, and graduated Summa Cum Laude. In her free time, Mallory's favorite things to do include volunteering at the animal shelter by bottle feeding neonatal kittens, reading at the park, cooking plant-based meals, playing board games, and binge streaming TV shows with her 3 furbabies and family beside her.


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