Hello again! I’m back to give you even more great ideas to take your teaching to the next level. And this time I’d like to tell you about using a laminator in the classroom and the best laminating machines for schools.
As we all know, lamination is the process of bonding a piece of paper between two clear plastic sheets of film. It’s obvious that the paper is protected, but did you know the text and colors are also enhanced? What was once a fragile drawing, quiz, research paper, instruction sheet, story or whatever is rigid, strong and will last for years.
Once I started using a laminator in my classroom, I could actually see the enthusiasm increase in my students. Some of their work, not everything, of course, took on more importance. They spent more time on their drawings, improved their handwriting and worked harder for better grades. All because their papers would be laminated and stand the test of time.
Other printed material could be used over and over again after it was laminated. These include stories that got passed around to different students, instructions for a project or experiment and many other things that need frequent use. The pages couldn’t be torn, stained with dirty fingers or destroyed if they were dropped on the floor and walked on. It saved on paper costs because I no longer had to reprint instructions or copies of stories for the children to share.
The artwork took on more importance because lamination made it permanent. The lamination is transparent but it brightens the colors and the painting or drawing could be exhibited or taken home without damage.
I have done a lot of research on the best laminators for the classroom. Here is a short overview of the three best products for different scenarios for those who don’t want to read the whole article.
- Includes a paper cutter
- High speed of lamination
- Laminates from business cards to A3 paper
- Very quiet
Best for: This is your best option if you need both a laminator and a paper cutter.
It is an all-in-one machine that is very versatile. You can laminate, trim with the paper cutter and round the corners. It’s great for craftwork. The system is virtually noiseless, which makes it suitable for a classroom. It has both hot and cold laminating systems for different pressure requirements. The technology provides smooth laminating with no bubbles or wrinkles. I like this model because of the paper cutter. You can use it for other things and not need separate systems. The paper cutter can be locked for safety in the classroom. It takes three minutes to warm-up and has an anti-blocking system so even incorrectly inserted documents can be fixed in a few seconds.
- Lightweight and portable
- Laminates from business cards to A4 docs
- Bubble-free lamination
Best for: This is a great little machine for personal use and the best home laminator for teachers that will allow them to laminate teaching tools, name tags, wall décor and other classroom items that need to last long.
This pick is inexpensive and provides high-quality lamination. It’s portable and used the thermal process. If you are new to the uses of lamination, this is a good selection because the technology gives perfect laminations even if you accidentally fold the laminated pouch. For personal use, it’s a great way to preserve photographs and documents from humidity, fungus and oil from fingerprints. It takes up to four minutes to warm-up then takes about 30 minutes for laminating. This model leaves no wrinkles or bubbles, is easy to clean and provides full surface lamination, so you can trim the edges if you want.
- Fully automated
- No loading pouches
- Can laminate odd-size pieces
- Load up to 30x A4 or A3 sheets in one go
Best for: This is a top-of-the-line laminating machine that is suitable for heavy-duty laminating. If you use laminating a lot or if it is used by several different people in your school, this is the machine to have.
It’s very versatile and will laminate regular letter paper, oversized documents and items with odd shapes. The best thing is it’s hands-free. Fully automated, it will laminate and trim up to 30 feeds while you do something else. This machine doesn’t use pouches as most others do. It has an automatic threading film cartridge that only loads one way, so you avoid film loading problems. You get perfect laminations with one touch of a button. It detects thickness, controls spacing, and straightens papers for a perfectly laminated document.
For those of you eager to find out more about the above devices, read on. Also, there will be detailed descriptions of all the best laminators for classroom use:
- UALAU →
- ABOX A4 →
- 5 in 1 Blusmart Set →
- ABOX OL381 →
- Swingline →
- GoGo Gadgets Heavy Duty Lamination Machine →
- GBC Foton 30 →
Types of Laminators
There are three types of laminators used for industry, office and classroom applications. Each has a different type of machine and different types of film. These include:
This is the smallest type and the most popular for home, office or classroom use. It can sit on a table, desk or shelf. The paper being laminated is placed inside the pouch, which is sealed on one side. The document needs to be pushed snuggly against the sealed top of the pouch because this is the side that goes into the machine. The film covers the front and back of the page. The inside of the pouch is coated with the heat-activated film, which adheres to the page being laminated. The adhesive is held in place by a board substrate side. Pouch laminators are the most commonly used in classrooms, mainly because they are inexpensive.
This process uses lamination rolls instead of pouches. The melted glue is applied to the film with hot rollers. One roller is on the top of the page and the other is under. The glue is liquid when heated and solidifies when it cools. You insert the page, set the temperature and start the machine. The results are just as good as from a pouch laminator and heated roller models come in many sized from 12” – 65”. They are fast and are the best for large items or if you have a huge number of pages to laminate.
Thermal laminators can be set to apply different thicknesses of lamination for different types of paper or fabric. Heated devices are also faster because the adhesive is heated and they are generally less expensive because they are cheaper to manufacture. The adhesive only works when it is exposed to heat, so it is easy to handle, and when heated, it is less likely to warp or shift than viscous adhesive.
Some materials cannot be put through a thermal devices, such as plastic, metal, specimens like leaves and some heat-sensitive paper.
This is the best option for pages that are heat-sensitive. The plastic film adheres to the page with non-heated rollers. Cold laminators are more versatile than the thermal type because:
- They can make stickers and labels.
- They don’t require special heat, speed or thickness settings.
- Some don’t require electricity to function and are small enough to be carried in a tote to different classrooms or crafting parties.
- They don’t damage photographs.
Best Laminators for Teachers
This machine includes a paper trimmer, corner rounder, 12 high-quality laminating pouches, and it runs hot and cold lamination. It preheats in three to five minutes and laminates with a speed of 250 mm per minute. The machine has the ABS button to stop or resolve paper jams. It is portable and easily fits into a bag or tote with the dimensions of 13.62 x 5.58 x 2.56 inches.
- ABS paper jam release – paper jams are easy to avoid if you insert the pouch correctly but they do happen and are easily fixed with this feature.
- Various size documents – you can laminate a normal 9-inch letter-size page or a small item such as an invitation to a party or small craft. Just make sure you always put the page at the top of the pouch going into the machine and put the sealed edge first
- Cold lamination – this is great for photographs or times when you don’t have an energy source
- Both hot and cold laminating feature
- Compact size
- Quick warm-up time
- Laminating usage time is only 30 minutes. After 30 laminations, you need to let the machine rest for 30 minutes, and it will continue to work perfectly for 72 hours.
- Not suitable for major laminating projects.
Best for: Personal use or a small amount of laminating in a classroom.
I recommend you watch this video. The narrator gives instructions for using the cold and hot press of this machine. He shows you how to do everything and how to avoid mistakes the first time you use it. You will get an idea of how long it takes and how to laminate different sized pages.
This is a very compact machine at 13 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds. It has a two roller-system, and it works at 300 mm per minute and comes with 12 free thermal pouches. Four pouches are 9 x 13.5 inches, four are larger than legal size paper and four are postcard size. This is a great starter kit for beginners. The innovative heating system removes bubbles, and it produces very little noise. It laminates from business-card size to nine-inch A4 pages. The warm-up time is two to four minutes and the laminating speed is 300 mm per minute.
- Bubble-free lamination even if you fold the pouch – good for classroom use where children may inadvertently damage pouches.
- The film protects from UV rays, which stops photos and documents from fading.
- The indicator light for overheating even if the machine is turned off. This is great for a classroom of younger children because it can help prevent burns
- Elegant design
- Laminates from business cards to A4 (9-inch) documents
- Very quiet when working
- Not suitable for large amounts of laminating
- The on-light is difficult to see
Best for: Teachers can laminate teaching tools, name tags, wall décor and other classroom tools that need to last at least one year and maybe more. It’s very easy to carry around from home to work.
Called five in one because this product includes one laminator, one paper trimmer, one corner rounder and 10 picture frames. It has a three to five-minute warm-up time and the two rollers support hot and cold modes. Paper jams are avoided or corrected with the ABS button. The size is 390 x 142 x 99 mm and the weight is 3.68 pounds. The maximum width for laminating is 230 mm. It reaches 120 – 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The laminating speed is 230 mm per minute, and the machine is very quiet.
- The machine includes an easy-to-use trimmer and a measurement grid for a perfect cut.
- It has an LED light indicating it is laminating.
- The two-roller system supports heat and cold lamination.
- It comes with three book rings and a hole punch to make it easy to keep your recipe cards or other sets of documents together.
- It comes with 20 different sized pouches, including five A4, five A5 and 10 A6.
- Comes with photo frames and clothespins and twine to hand your photos while they cool
- It is suitable for laminating business cards, flashcards, legal documents, certificates and awards
- As with all thermal models, the document comes out hot, so make sure your students don’t grab it first
- Not for laminating a large amount of material in the same sitting
- The lamination sheets are more expensive than other models
Best for: It is good for personal and professional use. This is the machine you want if you will be doing a lot of lamination every day. It will laminate up to 50 sheets per hour.
If you like this laminator, and who wouldn’t, I recommend you watch this instruction video before purchasing the machine. It explains the uses of all the bells and whistles and helps you have perfect lamination right from the first time.
This pick is called three-in-one because it has the hot and old laminating function, a trimmer and a corner rounder. The paper cutter is lever-style but is safe with a finger guard and a lock on the arm. The dimensions are 435 x 150 x 81 mm and the weight is 6.45 pounds. The working temperature is 105 – 135 Fahrenheit. It has a two-roller system and laminates paper from business cards to 13-inch A3 paper. It works at 250 mm per minute. When the sheet is completely out of the machine it should be removed quickly and trimmed or the corners cut.
The cold lamination requires self-adhesive laminating pouches, which you need to buy separately. These can be used without a machine, but there is a good chance you will get wrinkles and bubbles. This model will give your cold lamination pages and photos a smooth finish.
- The grid for the paper cutter gives perfect edges and has radiating lines so you can easily measure angles you want to cut without a protractor.
- It has the ABS button to unblock paper jams.
- It comes with 16 various sized laminating pouches. When you buy new pouches, they should be between 75 – 125 mic
- Laminates at 250 mm per minute, which is about the fastest you’ll find
- It gets very hot especially after several uses
- The cutter is very sharp, which is only a con when it is near small children. The arm can be locked
Best for: I recommend this laminator for classroom use. It needs supervision around younger children, but it does everything and you can use the paper cutter for anything, not just laminated pages. Paper cutters are another great tool to have in an elementary classroom, so if you don’t have one yet, I recommend ABOX OL381.
This is a short demonstration of how to use the machine. I recommend you watch it to get all the benefits this laminator has to offer.
This one will laminate nine-inch documents and uses any three and five mil laminating pouches. It has a jam release lever. The cold lamination requires a pressure-sensitive adhesive pouch, which is sold separately. The dimensions of the machine are 11 x 11.7 x 13.2 inches and it weighs 2.6 pounds. It has one power setting and lights that indicate when the power is on and the machine is ready for use after a four-minute warm-up time. It laminates at a speed of nine inches per minute. For cold lamination, separate, self-adhesive pouches need to be purchased. It is suitable for three or five mil laminating pouches.
- Corrects crumpled pouches for perfect laminations with a jam release lever.
- Can laminate two sheets of regular paper back to back, but not two sheets of cardstock.
- You can switch pouch thickness quickly
- Comes with five letter-size pouches
- It can do 45 laminations in two hours, but be careful of overheating. You may need to turn it off so it cools down for a few minutes
- I don’t recommend this model for heavy-duty use
Best for: This one is good for documents and photos. It’s also a great classroom device that allows you to laminate flashcards, name tags and other materials that you want to last the whole year.
If you like this attractive little laminator, watch this short video to see how to use it. Notice that even with a wrinkle going in, the machine gave a perfect outcome.
This is a hot and cold laminator that has a very fast warm-up time. It has an ABS button in case pages get blocked as well as a corner rounder and paper trimmer. The design covers the blades to prevent accidental injury. It laminates up to nine-inch pages, legal-size and A4. The dimensions are 15.1 x 5.3 x 3.9 inches and it weighs 3.85 pounds. The trimming grid is calibrated for angle cutting
- Built-in safety features for the blades, which makes this suitable for the classroom.
- Three-in-one paper cutter for straight, wavy or perforated cuts. The perforated cuts a super fun for children to make tickets that tear apart and cards for trading.
- Comes with 25 lamination sheets
- Sturdy and suitable for large projects
- Small enough to be portable
- User-friendly even for children, just watch the heat
- No particular cons. As usual watch the heat after laminating.
Best for: This is one of the top picks for classroom use. The three-in-one cutter is a real asset and the fact that it produces quick results is also useful. The small size and lightweight make it easy to transport, which is a bonus from such a top-of-the-line model.
This video not only shows you how to operate the machine, but how to change the cutting blade and use the three-in-one edges. I recommend you watch this short video to get familiar with all the features of GoGo Gadgets Heavy Duty Lamination Machine since it has more features than most of the other models, and it will save you time to learn to use them all.
This is a fully automatic device that provides hands-off work. It holds 30 letter-size feeds and automatically laminates and trims and shuts off automatically when the job is done. The three to five mil film cartridges thread automatically, and there are no pouched needed. It has auto-shutoff and automatic film thickness detection. The dimensions are 15.3 x 22.4 x 27.8 inches and it weighs 32.1 pounds.
- Automatic laminating – you can set it and forget it if you have large projects and don’t have time to stand and watch each one.
- It will laminate oversized documents and odd-shaped craft items.
- It will laminate up to 230 documents per film. It has a sensor to minimize film wastage.
- It comes with a 50’ starter cartridge. The cartridges are easy to lift in and out with no attachment or hook-up necessary
- It automatically detects if it is a five or three mil cartridge
- This is a fully automatic machine. No more hand feeding or hand trimming
- It also has a manual mode for odd-size pieces such as stars, or other craft items
- It’s big and heavy, so more suitable for a permanent place and not portable
Best for: As I mentioned above, this is a top of the line pick for teachers who plan to do a lot of laminating.
This video will give you a detailed idea of how to use this amazing machine. It is a dream come true for teachers who need to do a lot of laminating but don’t have time to do it one sheet at a time. It’s a great machine for a central office where several people use it. With a little wastage at first, the sheets just keep rolling out perfectly laminated.
Laminating Ideas for the Classroom
I have a lot of uses for my laminator in my classroom. Here are some of the things I do regularly:
- Print classroom labels: I use these for my mailboxes, files for each child and name tags on the first day of school and many other things. I do one-side lamination with a sticky back.
- Bulletin board posters: I use a lot of the same posters every year, but they become faded, dirty and even torn if I don’t laminate them. Since I refresh my bulletin boards every month, I need a good supply for multiplication tables, seasons, photos of seed germination and instructions for many things, especially the steps required for chick hatching.
- Board games: One activity my students enjoy is making their own board games. They use topics like the lifecycle of a butterfly, migration of birds around the world and many math games. They are all based on rolling dice and moving a token. When they are laminated, they can be used for several years.
- Reading comprehension stories: I choose stories that are relevant to today’s news especially the environment and voting rights. I make about five copies and let the children share them. If they weren’t laminated, they wouldn’t make it from one backpack to another intact.
- Multiplication tables: When my students were memorizing the multiplication tables, I gave each a grid of the tables up to 12.
Look here for many more ideas. Once you start to laminate your supplies, you won’t believe you could live without it. I also recommend that you watch this video to see how one teacher uses her small, portable lamination machine. She has good ideas and will inspire you to customize activities for your students.
Laminating Tips and Tricks
Laminating pages is pretty straightforward, especially pouch lamination. However, even if you have an inexpensive machine, you can still get first-class results if you follow a few tips:
- Make sure your document fits the pouch. If your document is too big for the pouch or you have not positioned it correctly in the pouch the page may not be sealed completely. When you insert the page, put it on a flat surface and make sure there is at least three mm of laminate around the edges. This will seal the pouch.
- If you have bubbles or cloudy spots after lamination, the temperature may not be high enough to melt the adhesive. Turn up the temperature and laminate the page again. The problem should be solved.
- Wavy lines mean the temperature is too hot. This could ruin the lamination of an important or expensive document. The best thing to do is to check your temperature by laminating some tests first so you know the right temperature for different types of paper. Your instruction booklet will tell you the best temperature for different uses.
- Keep your rollers clean so the glue doesn’t build up and leave spots on your document. Your instruction booklet should tell you how to clean the machine. Some have an automatic cleaning feature.
- Always buy high-quality pouches. Cheap pouched may defeat the purpose of long-term protection. High-quality pouches will laminate correctly and look good for years.
Learn more about lamination hacks here and watch this video to learn how to cut your laminating costs. The presenter shows you some simple tricks to save money for certain uses.
Here are five things to consider when you are looking for a laminator for your classroom:
- The width of the documents the device can handle. Make sure you get one that will handle the largest document you may want to laminate. This is usually posters, maps, banners and signs. Most of the models I recommended can handle A3 paper, but you can get ones that handle a much larger width.
- The thickness of the film you want to use. The thinnest you can get is 1.5 ml, but this is a little too flimsy for classroom use. The thickest you can get is 10 mil, but I don’t think you need it that thick. For classroom use, 3 mil is usually enough, but if you want a thick and strong lamination, get 5 mils.
- The speed each laminated page takes and how many laminations the machine can handle in one hour.
- The features that come with the laminator such as a built-in trimmer or paper cutter, a corner cutter and whether it does hot and cold lamination. One of the machines I recommended has a perforator cut for tickets or something you want the children to tear off.
- The temperature should be adjustable. Some machines can detect the thickness of the film and adjust the temperature accordingly.
I love laminating resources for my classroom. Whether it is for games and puzzles the children use or for notices and posters, the pages are much more user-friendly. I hope you get a chance to try it for your classroom because it will definitely upgrade everyone’s experience.
Last Updated on January 11, 2022 by Emily