Roll Laminators are most often used in commercial, professional and high-volume educational environments. They range in width format from 4" to 80", but are usually larger than 12" wide. They process graphics or documents between two rollers, which may be heated or cold (see below). Generally, roll laminators require more professional skills to operate than pouch laminators, but they are also more versatile in terms of the types of jobs they can do. Specifically, roll laminators are capable of mounting graphics to rigid substrates, as well as applying specialized laminating films for applications such as outdoor signage.
Cold roll machines are compatible only with pressure sensitive films, while heated roller machines can process both thermal/heatset and "cold" films. Pressure-sensitive films tend to be more expensive than thermal films and are commonly used for more complex decals and heat-sensitive substrates. An additional advantage is they don't require a more expensive heated-roll machine.
Thermal films are less expensive than cold films and often associated with higher volume applications. Many large format jobs use both thermal and cold films.
Pouch Laminators are smaller-format thermal machines that heat seal documents inside a film "pouch" that encapsulates both sides
of the document. They are easy-to-use for non-professional operators, with costs ranging from under a hundred to thousands of dollars for complex wide-format machines. However, most applications for pouch laminators tend to be smaller format, including business cards, I.D. cards, passports, letter-size and legal documents.
AUTOMATED / HIGH SPEED LAMINATORS
Industrial laminators are useful for high volume environments which either process large quantities of documents on a daily basis, or require fast turnaround on large jobs. Degrees of automation vary. Some modular systems integrate high speed cutters and feeders with a high speed roll laminators. Completely automated "green button" systems allow the operator to stack documents in the in-feed and collect the finished pieces stacked in the outfeed tray, with no setup required.