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How to Laminate Cards

Use an iron and ironing board to laminate cards if you don't have a machine.

Lamination pouches make sealing cards easy for anyone, even if you don't own a laminating machine. Protect photos or important cards such as Social Security cards, paper insurance cards or other important documents you might access often by covering them in plastic laminate. Superstores and office supply stores sell all the products you will need.

Supplies and Set Up

If you don’t have a thermal laminating machine, you can use your ironing board and iron to laminate important photos, cards or documents. You’ll need the thermal laminating product and two towels. Set one tea towel on the ironing board and set the iron to the cotton setting. Turn off the steam selection if it’s on – you need dry heat, not moist heat, to laminate the cards.

The Laminating Pouch

Place the card in the center of the laminating pouch with a large border around it. After it is sealed, this allows enough room to trim it back to card size. Set the laminating pouch on the ironing board in the center of the tea towel. Cover the pouch with the second tea towel.

Iron It

Iron the towel-covered pouch for about 30 seconds, pressing firmly over the pouch using slow steady passes with the iron. Make certain to run the iron over the entire pouch so that it seals with the heat applied by the iron. If you miss any area, the pouch won’t meld together. After ironing, let it cool before you touch the plastic pouch. Thicker laminating pouches make take longer to heat and seal.

Laminating Machine

If you have a laminating machine, choose the pouch that fits your card and center the card in the pouch. Turn the machine on to let it warm up and select the setting for the thickness of the plastic at 3, 5 or 6 mil. Some laminating machines have a cold and hot setting that works with self-adhesive or thermal plastic laminate pouches. If you are using thermal products, once the ready light comes on, insert the card with its sealed edge in first between the two rollers – the machine will feed it through and drop it on the other side.

Self-Adhesive Pouches

For sensitive photos or documents that react to heat, you might prefer the self-adhesive pouches that you can seal with the cold-press setting on a lamination machine. If you don't have the machine, use your hands to work out the air bubbles. After placing your card centered in the pouch, set it on a hard surface and rub with your fingers towards the open end to remove air bubbles. You can also use the back of a spoon to rub and seal the card.

Trim It to Size

Once the lamination process is finished and you see that the pouch has thoroughly melded together around the card, trim away the excess, leaving a small sealed edge. If you cut too closely to the card, you risk cutting the laminate and it will separate. The card must have a small border around it of laminated plastic to stay sealed.

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