Lamination or laminated printing is the process of creating printed materials with a bonded clear plastic film. This is done to protect printed documents from moisture and stain, add vibrancy and sheen to its ink colour, and increase its durability and strength. Any printed material looks more professional when it’s laminated.    

In any lamination printing project, it is extremely important to opt for the right laminate thickness for lamination. The plastic films used for lamination are referred to as laminates, and they are available in a wide range of thicknesses. Some of these films can be quite rigid, while some others are thin and flexible. If you want your printed document to be rigid, you can save money by printing on a heavy cardstock and using a thinner film for lamination. 

Lamination Film Measurement  

The measurement of lamination films are done in terms of mil thicknesses. A thickness of 1 mil refers to 1/1000ths of an inch or .001”. Therefore, a 1.5mil lamination film will have the thickness of .0015 inches. Also, don’t forget that your printed material will get sandwiched between two laminates. Therefore, if you are using a 1.5mil laminate, the overall thickness of the printed material would be increased by .003 inches.  

If you want your finished pieces to be sturdier, it is advisable to opt for a thicker laminate. However, if the printed document needs to be folded, the laminate thickness of your choice should be 3mil or less. Naturally, a higher laminate thickness will make it difficult to fold the document.  

Mentioned below are the common laminate thicknesses and some of their most popular applications.   

  • 1.5 mil: These laminates are relatively thin, and don’t add much rigidity to the printed pieces. However, this is an economical choice for the lamination of print materials constructed of cardstock or heavy paper. This is also an excellent option for temporary purpose printed documents because of being the least expensive laminate choice. 1.5mil thickness is also used frequently for laminating labels and decals. 
  • 3 mil: 3 mil thickness laminates provide adequate protection, but are sufficiently thin and flexible for the printed materials to be folded with ease. As a result, this laminate thickness is highly preferred for restaurant menus, maps, wall posters, flip-books, and manuals.    
  • 5 mil: This laminate thickness is used for moderate sturdiness and holds up to frequent usage. 3 mil thickness laminates are used frequently for flat printed documents that are handled on a regular basis. Some examples of applications include restaurant or bar menus, event passes, bookmarks, charts and diagrams, instructional materials, etc.   
  • 10 mil: This thickness makes laminated documents extremely rigid that can’t be easily bent or creased. 10mil laminates are used mostly for reference sheets, reusable tags, and identification cards and badges. Owing to its superior toughness, this type of laminate is recommended for printed materials that are used in greasy, damp, and dirty environments.    

While choosing laminate thickness, be mindful of the fact that the combination of thicker laminates and a heavy substrate can make the printed piece extremely stiff with hard corners.  In these cases, injury can be prevented by having the corners rounded off.   

If you have an upcoming printing project that requires lamination, please contact us today at RENZ Australia.