Lamination is a process of surrounding a paper
document in clear plastic. The process is meant to provide a durable option for
the protection of paper documents. Lamination has been around for many years,
and advances in equipment and materials have allowed this process to be
available to a wider range of people and professions. If you have never
laminated a document and do not understand how it works, continue reading for
History of Lamination
Lamination is a process that is meant to add
structural stability and protection to fragile paper documents which can become
damaged by spills, tears, and wrinkling. The process was invented in the early
1900s and was widely used from the 1930s to 70s to protect archives. Those who
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The original lamination process involved
sandwiching fragile paper documents between pieces of tissue and thin sheets of
plastic. The layers were fused together using heat, leaving the document fully
protected against acidic damage and damages caused by light, fluids, and mold
Over the years, many developments have
occurred in the process of lamination. The machines of the early 1900s were
extremely bulky, expensive, and demanding. Many inventors rose to the scene to
improve the lamination process. One of the most notable was William Barrow, and
his inventions helped propel lamination further. Eventually, the National
Bureau of Standards released their process of stages that must be completed to
properly laminate an archive document, and they included the following.
1. The document was first deacidified.
2. The document was layered between sheets of
tissue and cellulose acetate.
3. The document was then topped with a thin
layer of Japanese tissue to prevent tears and improve the strength.
4. The lamination protection process would involve a stack of five
layers to ensure the document was fully protected.
5. The “sandwich” of layers was placed into a
laminate press machine where they were heated and sealed. The plastic cellulose
material became part of the paper, changing its composition.
Even though the National Bureau of Standards
meant well in attempting to standardize the lamination process, there was great
variation in the methods that were used to protect fragile paper documents.
Today, many advances have been made in the
lamination process. Although there are still massive machines for commercial
applications, there are now much smaller options for those who have simple
lamination projects at home.
Lamination Used Today?
While lamination has been around for decades,
it is still being used today on the industrial and personal level. Lamination
is used in many industries and has a surprising number of uses that most people
do not even consider.
Lamination is common in producing building
materials. From laminated flooring to countertops, there are a variety of
materials that have been prepared using lamination techniques.
Lamination is often used in the protection of
important documents, photos, and many types of paper. The lamination is put in
place to seal the paper material from water and UV light. It is also used to
prevent folding, tearing, wrinkling, smudging, abrading, and marking.
A common reason for paper lamination is for
paper use in all types of weather. Placing a lamination film over a fragile
document makes it imperviable to water, so it can be used outdoors and will
even stand up to rain without being damaged by an influx of water. Lamination
is often used for the following.
Social security cards, birth certificates, and other important documents
Outdoor paper signs for yard sales and announcements
Certificates of achievement
Once a person becomes acclimated with the
process of lamination, there are tons of options available. Most people find
they cannot live without their lamination machine and use it often.
of Laminate Plastic
There are different types of laminate plastic
that can be used to protect all types of paper, including photos. The type used
will depend on the machine and the kind of paper document that is being
1. Standard thermal lamination film
2. Heat-assisted laminating film
3. Low-temperature thermal lamination film
4. Liquid laminate (Primarily used in building
5. Pressure-sensitive lamination film
of Lamination Machines
There are several types of laminating machines
that can be used for different projects.
Understanding each of the types is essential
before making a choice.
Pouch laminators are one of the most popular for non-commercial use. They are
affordable and easy to use. With this machine, the document is placed in the
pouch and run through the machine without any rollers.
Hot roll laminators are considered an industry standard. These machines use
rolls of plastic film and use heat to sandwich documents between the two layers
of plastic. These machines not only protect the paper but also enhance its
Wide format laminators are needed for larger lamination projects. This type of
machine mounts inkjet projects to foam and a variety of other large-scale
projects. While these machines are more expensive than some types, their uses
Cold roll laminators are much like hot rollers, only they do not use heat to
finish the lamination process. These machines use pressure-sensitive lamination
films to produce a tight seal without any heat.
Dry mount lamination equipment uses pressure and heat to laminate more
sensitive pieces, such as photos. This type of machine is ideal for commercial
use because it produces consistently professional results.
Yes, lamination is still a process that is
being used today. When starting out in lamination, many people purchase smaller
machines until they fully understand the process. There are tons of options
with lamination, so the sky is the limit.
Choosing the right equipment and films is essential
for the perfect outcome. Carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions
and taking time in the process will produce the best results. Paper no longer
must be fragile with the many advances that have occurred in the art of
lamination. Lamination can help protect documents, photos, and important pieces
of paper for many years to come, without any damage occurring.