The laminating process adds durability to papers you access frequently. Purchasing a laminator can be expensive, and you may not have space to store the machine. If you're looking for cheap ways to laminate paper, your local office supply store or copy center can probably help you.
Places That Laminate Paper
A number of stores laminate paper, including chain office supply stores and copy centers. Do an internet search to find a location near you. The chains listed below offer in-store and online services.
Laminating services at Staples start at $1.89 for a letter-sized document. You can choose a laminating film in 3 mm, 5 mm or 7 mm thickness. You must pick up your laminated item in the store. Depending on store staffing and time of day, you may be able to get the laminating done while you wait.
Pricing for laminating large items, such as posters, is $2.00 per square foot. Your only option is the 3 mm laminating film. You can pick up your item in the store or have it delivered.
FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's) The FedEx Office website has a drag-and-drop feature that lets you easily upload documents for printing. Add on laminate, starting at $2.74 per page.
Office Depot Office Depot laminating prices start at $2.49 per page for 5 mm laminate and $2.99 for 10 mm laminate. Office Depot's website makes it easy to order for pickup at your local store.
UPS Store Create a print job to your specifications on the UPS Store's website and pick up the finished job at your local store. Laminating prices start at $2.59 per letter-sized page.
How Laminators Work
Laminators work with heat and pressure. A document is placed between two sheets of film that are coated with a special adhesive. As the document moves through the laminator, the adhesive melts, and the two sheets of laminate are pressed together with the document between them.
Types of Laminators
Pouch laminators accommodate pre-made pouches that are available in letter, legal and index card sizes. The document is placed inside the pouch and run through a pouch laminator to seal it. Cold pouches use an adhesive that does not need to be heated, and thus no laminating machine is needed. If you're looking for inexpensive ways to laminate paper, cold pouches — available where office supply products are sold — are a good solution.
Roll and wide-format thermal laminators are designed for large documents such as posters and blueprints. Rolls of laminate film are loaded into top and bottom feeders. Rollers advance the heated film, encasing the documents in the fused layers.
Cold laminators work by pressure only. Some laminators are available with both cold and thermal options.
Purchasing a Laminator
If you find you frequently use laminating services, it may make sense to buy your own machine rather than spend time and money at stores that laminate paper for you. Machines range in price from $20 to more than $4,000, depending on size and features.
Here's a rundown of some of the laminators currently on the market with suggested retail prices:
- Pfeiffer Ulam ($19.99): Accommodates documents up to 9 inches wide, using laminate up to 5 mm thick. Recommended for light volume use in a small office.
- Fellowes Lunar 95 ($44.99): For light volume use with 3 mm and 5 mm laminating pouches.
- Swingline Fusion (74.99): Accommodates documents up to 12 inches wide with 3 mm laminate. The 5 mm laminate can be used for pieces up to 4 by 6 inches.
- GBC Ultimate E-Z Load ($399.99): Accommodates film up to 10 mm thick and documents up to 12 inches wide.
- GBC Foton ($799.99): Desktop roll laminator can feed up to 30 sheets at a time. Accommodates documents from 5 by 6 inches to 11 by 17 inches.
- Epic Plus 27-inch Roll Laminator ($1,089.99): Uses 1.5 to 3 mm laminating film. Accommodates documents up to 27 inches wide.
- Pro-Lam 44-inch Wide Format Roll Laminator ($4,449.99): Designed for commercial and high-volume use, this laminator is mounted on its own stand.
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.