Laminator vs household iron? I've been looking at laminators for occasional light-duty use. I'm curious to know if using a common household iron will work in place of buying a laminating machine? If I buy the proper poucheds, put the item on a solid surface to keep it straight, then put a protective covering over the plastic, and iron both sides, will that work? Does anyone know what the proper temperature for laminating is? Thanks for input/opinions.
I just now now used GBC business card sized pouches. Iron set on high, dry. Fabric or light paper as a protector let the steam holes in the iron show on the item. The paper protector that comes with the pouches and/or card stock paper worked better. "Ironing" with a back and forth motion resulted in some edge distortion and bubbles. Holding the iron in one place caused some scorching so I had to turn down the heat. After that it fused well. Still a bit of edge distortion, instead of perfectly smooth as with the laminator. A larger item would require several placements of the iron but would probably work fine if you don't need perfection. Hope that helps!
I think you could use an iron just fine for occasional laminating for up to letter size or slightly larger. Set it at medium high and use a paper pouch (just folded card stock--60-65 pound paper) to protect both the item and the iron. Some laminating pouches includes a paper protector. Only 5-10 seconds should do it for 5 mil. laminating material.
The mil. of the laminating plastic is important as well. 3 mil. only protects, it doesn't add much much weight or rigidity. (If the item is rigid, the laminated edges won't be.) 5 mil. is what I use for the items I make--and is good for business cards, recipe cards, most signs, posters, etc. It is rigid but not very thick. 7 and 10 mil. are both quite thick and rigid. They require much more heat and time to get a good lamination. I don't find a difference between brands, so look for the least expensive.
You'll need to leave 1/8" of space around any item you laminate. The 3 and 5 mil. items trim easily with scissors, the 7 and 10 mil. are slightly less easy to trim. The lamination is not effected by trimming. (As you can tell, I need to get a life!)
I've tried the iron for laminating & became very frustrated. I don't laminate often & therefore don't have the patience or wherewithal to attempt the various tricks of the trade. I'm buying this puppy now lol.
The laminator vs household iron is a good question. Laminators reach a much higher temp than household irons. You will not get the same seal with an iron as you will with a laminator. Laminators heat both sides at the same time and evenly. An iron works well for touching up projects that didn't seal well. If sealing a single thickness of paper then it will seal well. I've worked with various brands and types (cold vs hot) of laminators for 20 years. I would highly recommend a laminator over an iron. This is an excellent price for a laminator.
I may be in this a little late for some, but I'll add a bit of knowledge. Tina, great info but one suggestion, rather than a piece of paper, use aluminum foil and thin cardboard, best on a hard surface, if you don't have a craft table (does anyone who isn't on TV?) a scrap of wood or even a cutting board works well. Put down the thin cardboard, foil, the item to laminate with the laminating plastic, another piece of foil and finally another thin cardboard. (The cardboard needs to be thin like poster board so the heat goes through). As Tina said, keep your iron in one spot for so many seconds, then lift and move the iron over a spot with slight overlap, when done, turn over and do again. (trial and error, start with 10 secs with a low temp, let the plastic cool, if it hold together, good, if not try slightly higher temp or longer time. Once you know the temp and time, write it down for next time) The cardboard gives some firmness which keeps the plastic from shifting, the foil will allow heat on both sides, but it won't be quite as hot on the bottom, so after doing one side, flip it and repeat. I've done this for professional id cards when our laminator broke, it's time consuming for larger products, but it works just fine.
A laminator not only heats the material, it puts a lot of pressure between the rollers (think pasta machine) to force the material to adhere to what you are laminating as well as adhere to the parts of the material around the item you are laminating. I don't know what the pressure is, but I would rather spend (and did) money on a laminator than worry about getting melted plastic on my $50 iron.
Thank you for the test and report, Tina! Since I haven't yet bought any laminating equipment or supplies, I may just have to buy some pouches and practice with my iron, to find out how frustrated I get... Since I'll have only occasional need, I'm trying to avoid the cost of an actual (quality/reliable) laminator. I appreciate that you shared with us Tina.
VERY GOOD QUESTION! Unfortunately, I do not know the answer, but will sign up for email posts in case someone does know. Would certainly be cheaper for those of us who have only a few items to laminate. The local UPS store will also laminate very inexpensively. Nice conceptual question! I was looking to see how much laminating pouches cost and found the following products. If I need to laminate, these will probably do it for me. I imagine if they did not quite close properly, you could certainly use an iron on these products. My need to laminate things is quite small. Scotch Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches, 25-Pack (LS851G), Business Card Size
Hahahahaha Tina! If you know these tricks, you must have a good enough life to do everyday stuff AND have time for your personal/creative life! I'm so lame when it comes to crafts that I have to benefit vicariously by appreciating others. I have a houseful of craft pieces and parts, and keep buying new stuff, in the off-chance that I can actually make them into something recognizable. I've already given most of the supplies away this year in frustration... and then bought a few more recently to make (ha ha) Christmas stuff (ha ha). So my next effort will be laminating a few things. Now you know why I don't want to spend the money for a laminating machine - I'd be giving that away next year : (