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I just last weekend hot laminated a deck of paper cards that I wanted to make sturdier for use, so I can share some of my experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post
After careful perusal of this thread (thank you, crafty persons), I have come to the following conclusions:

1. Hot lamination's downside is that the finished laminate material tends to be less flexible than cold laminate, and that one cannot cut directly up to the border of the card, because hot lamination only seals the edges of a pouch rather than adhering to the card/paper itself the way cold laminate does.
This is not exactly true. I laminated 4-6 cards per pouch (standard size, 8"x11" I think, whatever the size of a piece of paper is). On my second pouch, two of the cards shifted inside the pouch before feeding through the laminator and were laminated together while overlapping each other. Disasterous. Since it was said several times in this thread that the hot laminate does not stick to the object, only to itself, I assumed I could cut around the cards and remove them from the pocket inside. Not so. It was obvious fairly quickly when I started to peel the laminate off that it was taking a thin layer of paper with it that would contain most of the ink on the card. So hot laminate definitely does also stick to the object regardless of whatever the consensus theory is.

Lesson learned: either leave a lot of space between cards (only use 4 cards per pouch) or if you are going to use 6, be very careful and hold the cardboard tray level as the laminator feeds it in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post
2. All of the hot laminating machines I've seen on YouTube appear to be automated; one feeds the pouch in the same way one would feed paper into a fax, and it comes out the other side on its own.
The laminator I used requires use of a cardboard sheath to place the pouch in. This prevents the plastic from melting. These sheaths come with the pouches. People have told me you can laminate without one, probably using a lower heat setting. I would not risk doing so with cards though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post
3. For both hot and cold lamination, the corners of the card should be rounded before being laminated. Then you have to round them again once the laminate is attached.
If you want rounded corners on your cards, yes. You can have square corners if you wish. You cannot trim your cards after laminating them as you should keep a small lip of laminate around the egdes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post
5. Hot lamination requires a pouch of a size that is very close to the item you're laminating. This is because only the edges of hot lamination pouches are sealed, which means one cannot cut close to the border of the card; this would cut away the sealed parts. If the excess laminate is too much owing to having used too large a pouch for the card or paper size, one can't cut away all the excess laminate; they're stuck with it.
Not true. You can use any size pouch you want. You can easily cut away any excess. I used the full size pouches and laminated 4-6 in each pouch and hand trimmed the laminate with scissors. Had I been more patient, I could have taken them into work and trimmed them with a paper cutter, but I was worried I could more easily screw up with that than with being cautious with a pair of scissors.

It might be easier to use small pouches, but there are not a lot of different sizes out there to choose from. You are most likely going to need to do some trimming no matter what. The small pouches are a lot less cost effective. It's cheaper to laminate several cards in a large pouch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post
6. My cards will be printed several to a page of 8 1/2 by 11 " paper. It is better (safer, faster) to laminate each sheet first, and then cut out the individual cards. Thus, I need a machine that is long enough to accommodate this size of paper. Do you agree?
If your sheet of cards is a solid sheet (and I can't imagine how it would not be), you definitely need to cut your cards first and then laminate them. If you laminate the whole sheet and then cut the cards, you will have no way of leaving a lip of laminate around the edge of each card. Without an edge of laminate sealed to laminate, the laminate will eventually start to separate with use of the cards. Actually, cutting through laminate and card together might be enough stress to cause the laminate to start to separate right away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post
Thus, despite my preference for cold lamination (because I can cut right up to the border of the card), it is probably "safer" for me to stick with hot lamination.
I have no experience with cold lamination so I cannot compare. I left very little edges of laminate around the cards, about 1/16". I then ran them through the laminator again to make sure that the very thin edge I left was definitely sealed together. All in all, I am pretty pleased with how my cards came out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post
I'm considering this fellow here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9iX8FpVvUo

Any input you have on the conclusions I've drawn would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers.
That one looks reasonable enough to me. If the sheets you buy come with a cardboard sheath though, I'd recommend using it. Or try out not using it on something unimportant first. The bubble/imperfections she pointed out in her pouch are very common in the excess areas of laminate that does not have anything in it. She just needs to trim the pouch around the shape of the artwork. You should not see these on your cards or even close to them.
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