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Following are the responses to this question on laminating machines:
What are the best brands and models? What pitfalls should I avoid? Staples is currently offering one for $59 that looks easy to use. How long do these kinds of devices last? Are they safe? It is my understanding that the plastic sheets end up costing far more than the laminator itself. Any help you can supply will be of benefit.
-- Stephen Tweed
We have a laminator from Idesco Corp. that I bought about 15 years ago. It was more than $59 then, but prices on everything have fallen. You are right... the laminating pouches cost more than the machine. There are a number of mail order companies that sell pouches in larger quantities. Buying them at Staples or Office Max is much more expensive. We don't use it very often, but it's been a handy item to have in our office. We laminate signs and easels for back of the room book sales, luggage tags, and occasionally help out a friend who needs something laminated. The machine is easy to use -- plug it in, turn it on, wait a few minutes for it to heat up, and go. The biggest inconvenience is the wait while it warms up.
-- Andre Beaudoin
I've been using a GBC DocuSeal95 laminator, bought at Staples for about $100 3 years ago. It get a lot of use and has been very dependable. This machine does foil, hot laminating, and cold laminating. I do all hot laminating. I know lots of others who are happy with this machine. It can handle paper sizes up to 8.5x14. The same company makes both larger and smaller machines.
The cost of the laminant will eventually exceed the cost of the machine, but the cost of copy paper will exceed the cost of a copier too, if you use it long enough.
-- Peggy Duncan
I bought an Ibico laminator ($200) about 3 years ago, and I'm very pleased with it. I didn't want the bottom of the barrel laminator because I wanted to be able to use it for various projects. Depending on how you plan to use it, check out the levels of pouch thickness it'll accommodate and what size sheets it'll allow you to laminate. Buy for the future: you'll find lots of ways to use it. When you go to stores like Micro Center, Staples, Office Depot, they usually carry the best-selling brands so not to worry.
The last time I bought a box of laminating pouches it was about $20 for 50 pouches at Office Depot. I think Sam's Club has a better price on them.
When you compare costs, multiply your hourly pay rate by how much time it takes you to get in your car, go to the service center, stand in line to have the work done, pay for it, get back in your car, drive back home. Buying the laminator and the pricey pouches is worth it. I had the same thought when I bought my own postage printer and binding machine.
-- Steve Miller
We've used a laminator for several years now -- the Ibico ML-9. It has worked very well for us. We don't do large quantities at any one time, but will often create photos or giveaways for clients and small audiences. I don't think it was too expensive, but it seems to work well enough.
-- Brian Jeffrey
We've had great luck using the 3M cold laminator. We used to have a GBC hot laminator but it was time-consuming to do a number of sheets and the cost of the plastic laminating sheets was high. The 3-M unit come with a 100-foot roll and we can usually laminate 110 or more standard pages with one roll.