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MORE INFO > Laminator Info

 

What's the best laminator to use? That depends...

It all depends on what kind of papers you'll be foiling. Most all inexpensive laminators will work IF your papers are very lightweight. The problem comes in when the capacity of the laminator is not high enough and equally imporant, the amount of pressure from the rollers. The transport speed is also of concern, but if you have a high capacity unit, speed isn't the biggest issue.

 

Having a high capacity laminator of course makes all the difference when you're using textured and/or heavyweight paper stocks. The highest capacity for a "pouch laminator" is the 10mil capacity so we went hunting for the "best-bang-for-the-buck". It came down to 2 units in the USA (110v) with the lowest retail price. Here is the comparison.

 

 APACHE 'AL13P' vs. TAMERICA 'SM-330' (Head-to-Head Comparison)

If you are going to be foiling heavy paper weights and/or textured paper stocks you'll definitely want a "10mil" type pouch laminator to deliver high capacity of heat and pressure to make foils fuse properly over a range of paper stocks.

 

In the "$150 and less price range, There are only two "10mil" laminators to choose from for great performance for all paper weights and textures... but there is a difference between them.

 

First of all, being "off brand" units saves you about $100 right off over comparable "name brand" 10mil laminators (like Fellows, GBC, Swingline and others.) In 2016 we did a head-to-head comparison of both units, and for basic performance they both work well as "10mil" type units. They will handle the heaviest of stock papers to give you perfect foil transfers. However, when it comes to what's 'under the hood' the Tamerica wins hands-down. We should point out that there is about $40 difference in  "street price". For starters and one of the most important safety features, the Tamerica unit has a sensor to detect "temperature controller failure" and will shut down the unit... the Apache does not.

 

ADVANTAGES OF 'TAMERICA SM-330' ADVANTAGES OVER 'APACHE AL13P'

  • Works right out of the box with no modifications needed (the APACHE unit must be modified - see below)
  • Superior internal design to apply even roller pressures across the 12" width.
  • Much higher quality manufacturing
  • Over-Temp Safety Shut-down Feature (not found on the Apache)
  • Tamerica SM-330 is South Korean designed vs. the Apache's basic Chinese design
  • USA Tamerica Importer based in Rancho Cucamonga, California vs several unknown importers for the Apache unit.
  • Availability from us and other well-known laminator resellers on the web.
  • We offer our own Tech Support direct as we know this unit inside and out. (APACHE offers no Tech Support.)

 

STREET PRICES:

  • APACHE "AL13P"  - street price ranges from $90 ~ $120
  • TAMERICA "SM-330" very stable pricing at $140.

 

TAMERICA SM-330 INTERNAL CONSTRUCTION:

This is where the big differences lie with the "SM-330"...

     

Steel Drive Gears  //  Heavy Duty Reversible Motor & Overheat Sensor  //  uP Controller w/Overtemp  //  Pressure Regulating Roller Pressure

 

 

APACHE "AL13P" MODIFICATION REQUIRED

 

The 10mil Apache "AL13P" laminator must have the roller pressure increased from it's factory settings. First ensure the unit is cool and unplugged! Notice there are 8 screws on the base plate; 4 in the far corners of the unit, and 4 inset an inch circled in red.)

 

MODIFICATION OF ROLLER SPRING TENSIONING:

  • Remove the 4 'corner' screws (not the ones circled on the right.) to remove the beige cover.
  • Flip the unit right-side up and CAREFULLY lift off and rotate the cover out of the way.
  • Plug in the unit, insert the CarrierBoard and run it until the board about half-way.
  • Turn off and UNPLUG the unit.

 

NOTE: Newer models (left photo) have the 4 adjustment screws reversed so adjustments are done from the inside of the chassis.

  • You may want to disconnect the ribbon cable from the top cover for better access.
  • Find the 4 springs that are captivated in these 4 long screws that connect to "J" hoooks on top. Notice how there is a slight gap between the coil turns of the spings.
  • Tighten these 4 screws one at a time so that the spacing on the spring coils are just BARELY touching but not "bottoming out"!
  • Plug the top cover connector back into the circuit board (if removed earlier) and turn the unit on to pass the CarrierBoard out of the unit.
  • Re-attach the top cover.

 

 

FINDING "220 VOLT" LAMINATORS OUTSIDE NORTH AMERICA

There are several units we've seen in UK, AU and Mainland Europe:

Here's the trick to find a good 10mil laminator. Go to "www.google.com/images" then enter the search term, "220 volt pouch laminator". This will present you with hundreds of laminator images. Now the hunt is on! When you find a prospective unit photo, by clicking on the "Visit Page" will take you to the particular vendor's website page for more info (country, cost, etc).

 

The most common generic "no-name" Chinese design is shown on the left. The next most common unit looks like this unit on the right.

Make sure the selected unit is wired for 220 volt. We're sure there are a lot of other units that look differently from these two so this is where you'll have to do some research on the specs. Some units are 6 roller and that's overkill. Two rollers are acceptable - most are 4. Dual heaters is normal on 1 pair of rollers. Note: Some "square" box looking units are the old "heater plates" which you do NOT want! We must have heat and pressure at the same time, so only heated roller designs will work. There are VERY FEW 'heater plate' designs still on the market.

 

SAFETY FIRST!

 

NEVER LEAVE THE ROOM WHEN ANY LAMINATOR IS RUNNING!

 

All laminators run very hot upwards of 300ºF ~ 350ºF. Some pouch laminator manufacturers have 'auto-shutoff' after a period of time and some don't have overheat sensors to shut down the unit. Here are our two suggestions for good safety when using ANY hot laminator. Because these units run very quietly, it's easy to forget you have it running and leave the room where it's operating.

 

Smoke Detector:

Pickup one of these very inexpensive battery-operated Smoke Detectors from your local hardware store. Place it above the area where you use this laminator.

 

Power Plug Timer:

We highly recommend using a "timer". For peace of mind we strongly suggest you to use an automatic shutoff device because you might forget and leave the area altogether. A unit that we like is the Belkin brand "Conserve Energy Saving Outlet" ($14~$19 on Amazon). These are both cheap insurance in the event there was a malfunction that could result in a fire.