Monday, August 26, 2013

What Does MIL Weight Mean For Laminating Pouches?

The mil weight of a hot laminating pouch describes the thickness of the pouch, which determines how heavy, or stiff, the final laminated item will be. The higher the mil weight, the "stiffer" your final laminating project will end up being.

Thermal Laminating Machine and Hot Laminating Pouch
When an item is measured in "mils," your standard for conversion is one mil equals one thousandth of an inch. Standard mil weights purchased by most customers for their projects are the 3 mil and 5 mil weights.

When mil weight is being described for laminating film, it is important to know that most manufacturers are talking about the total mil weight of the hot laminating sheet. For instance, if a pouch is described as having a 10 mil weight, that means that each side of the pouch (flap) is 5 mils, for a total weight of 10 mils.

Keep in mind that a higher mil weight does not necessarily mean it is a "better" thermal laminating pouch for you. You need to consider the type of project you will be laminating and determine whether you need it to be of a standard thickness, or if you need a more rigid finished product.

You also need to make note of the type of paper you will be laminating. If your item is printed on card stock, you may be able to forgo a 5 mil weight and use a 3 mil weight instead, since the card stock has some rigidity to it already.

However, if you are printing something on copy paper and you need it to be a on the thicker side, you will probably want to consider a 5 mil or 7 mil pouch.

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It also also very important to note the capabilities of your laminating machine. Not all laminating machines can handle all mil weights. Most standard laminating machines will be rated for 3 mil or 5 mil laminator pouches. Some may be able to handle 7 mils. Make sure you check with the manufacturer of your item to find out what it's capabilities are. Trying to laminating a pouch that is not rated for the machine will cause jams or an uneven laminating job with bubbles and other issues.

Generally, when you get into anything higher than a 7 mil, like a 10 mil or a 15 mil, there are going to be much fewer laminators that are going to be able to handle the heavier weights. Most 10 mil and 15 mil machines are going to be more commercial grade type of machines, which carry a heavier price tag than a standard machine.

As a rule of thumb, a 3 mil laminating pouch will provide a flexible and lightweight protection to your item. It will provide protection to your document from spills, dirt, smudges, dust and light handling.

A 5 mil laminating pouch will give you more protection from handling and use. It will protect from long term exposure to water, like rain, wind and sun. It should be resistant to crinkling and folding, while maintaining a slight bit of flexibility.

A 7 mil laminating pouch will provide more protection and rigidity. 7 mil or higher films are excellent for items that will be handled extensively, such as ID cards and menus.

When you get into the realm of 10 mils and above you are going to have a finished item that is almost as rigid as a credit card.

For roll film laminating, however, the terminology is different because rolls are sold separately and sometimes customers will laminating just one side of a sheet, an option your don't have with pouch laminating. So if the roll of film is 5 mils thick, it is just that, 5 mils.

At Your Office Stop we offer a large variety of laminating pouches in many different mil weights, for all your laminating supply needs. Stop by and check them out.
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