The 6 Best Laminating Machines for Crafts in 2021
The Scotch Thermal Laminator is our pick for best overall because it's affordable, reliable, and efficient. Plus, this combo pack comes with 20 letter-size laminating pouches, so you can get started as soon as it arrives on your doorstep! This laminating machine can seal a broad range of items up to 9 inches wide and 5 millimeters thick. The overall dimensions are 16.3 x 5.6 x 5.8 inches.
Weighing just 3.85 pounds, this sleek white laminator is relatively lightweight. The built-in cord storage and handle make it portable and easy to store. It plugs into a standard outlet and operates using a dual-roller system with two temperature settings. Whether you have DIY playing cards, a homemade puzzle, seasonal decorations, or a scrapbooking project in mind, the Scotch Thermal Laminator is up for the task.
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If you're on a budget, the AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator Machine is an excellent pick. The most affordable size is the 9-inch option, but it's also available in a reasonably priced 12-inch size, as well as combo packs with laminator sheets. With the smaller laminating machine, you can laminate papers, photos, cut-outs, and cards up to 9 inches wide. You can even run full letter-size sheets through, and the jam-release lever makes it easy to fix paper jams.
This laminator has two heat settings: "3 mil" for papers up to 3 millimeters thick and "5 mil" for sheets up to 5 millimeters thick. It works with any 3-millimeter and 5-millimeter laminating pouches—though you can get budget-friendly ones from AmazonBasics—and takes four minutes to warm up. Weighing just over 2.5 pounds and measuring 13.4 x 4.8 x 2.4 inches overall, it's a notably light and compact product.
Willing to spend a little more on a high-quality laminator? Check out the Fellowes Saturn 3i 95, an advanced and versatile thermal laminating machine. Thanks to its built-in InstaHeat technology, this laminator heats up in just one minute. With a 12.5-inch entry width, it's also wider than most options and can accommodate a multitude of large and small papers.
The Saturn has two heat settings as well as a cold mode for sealing self-adhesive pouches. It also has an automatic shut-off feature to preserve energy and prevent overheating. If you run into any jams, the lever releases the laminating pouch so you can recenter it or take it out and start over. At 5.1 pounds, it's slightly heavier than other laminating machines, but the Saturn makes up for it in durability and capacity.
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The smallest entry width on laminating machines is typically 9 inches. However, some are more lightweight and compact than others, like this one from Swingline. The Inspire Plus weighs just 2.6 pounds and measures roughly 11 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches, which is smaller than the AmazonBasics option. It's compatible with any 3-millimeter and 5-millimeter pouches, and since it has only one heat setting, you can quickly switch between sizes. It also has a cold mode for sealing pressure-sensitive adhesive pouches.
This laminator has smooth rollers to keep your projects wrinkle- and bubble-free. A ready light will tell you when it's heated and ready to use (about four minutes), and the jam lever makes it easy to clear jammed pouches. It comes with five letter-size pouches and a 90-day manufacturer warranty.
The best large laminating machine for crafts is the Scotch Advanced Thermal Laminator. Most options are limited to a 12-inch entry, but this one has an extra-wide 13-inch input. So, whether you need to laminate 2-inch Christmas tree ornaments or a 13-inch chore chart, you can do it all on the same machine.
This laminator warms up in under a minute and has two heated rollers for a high-quality, professional-looking finish. You can count on your project being free of wrinkles and bubbles, no matter how large the sheets are. The Advanced Thermal Laminator weighs 3.65 pounds and is 19.6 x 6 x 3.1 inches overall. Like the standard laminating machine from Scotch, it has a carrying handle, cord storage, and two heat settings, which work with 3-millimeter and 5-millimeter laminating pouches.
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When it comes to versatility, the Crenova A4 stands out from the competition. This user-friendly laminating machine can accommodate sheets up to 9 inches wide and comes with a few handy crafting supplies. You'll get a paper trimmer, a corner rounder, and 20 laminating pouches.
The laminator itself warms up in three to five minutes and can seal up to 50 sheets per hour. While it's technically only compatible with Crenova pouches, reviewers have noted that most 3-millimeter and 5-millimeter laminating pouches work just fine. At 2.7 pounds and 13.9 x 5.9 x 4.2 inches in size, the A4 is conveniently light and small. You can set it on a desk, table, workbench, or bring it with you for on-the-go craft projects.
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The best overall laminating machine for crafts is the Scotch Thermal Laminator (view at Amazon). It’s an affordable and reliable product that comes with 20 letter-size laminating pouches. If you’re looking for something with more bells and whistles, the Fellowes Saturn 3i 95 Laminator (view at Amazon) is a great option. It heats up in under a minute and has an auto shut-off feature to prevent overheating.
The Best Teacher Laminator: Scotch VS AmazonBasics
Surely I’m not the only teacher wondering which laminator is best! Is the Amazon Laminator as good as the Scotch Laminator? It looks pretty similar, but it is much cheaper.
I’ve compared all of the things I care most about in a personal teacher laminator. So which one is truly the best? You’ll have to decide! 🤨
It’s no secret that teachers love to laminate. Some would call it an addiction. I like to say I am being economical. It just makes sense to laminate something I want to use again! 🤓
It saves paper, ink, and time. Really, laminating is a gift to my future self. 🎁 😉
This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through this link, we get a small commission. Rest assured – we only share links to products that we know and love!
Just Tell Me: What’s the best teacher laminator?
TL;DR? (Too long; don’t read?) No worries, I got ya. The winner is:
It wins every time. It’s our favorite, and apparently it’s yours too.See AmazonBasics Laminator on Amazon
Scotch Laminator VS AmazonBasics Laminator: A Teacher’s Perspective
I have had my Scotch Brand Laminator for years. I have had is so long, in fact, that they don’t even sell it anymore! However, my best friend has this one and we confirmed that any updates to the machine are very minimal and almost impossible to notice.
There was no difference in time to heat up, laminate or quality. The biggest difference is the laminator’s appearance.
I do lament the fact that they have done away with a tray as I think that it’s very handy for lining up the paper and letting it go but the machine is much more sleek and portable without it.
All that to say, it really was time for me to upgrade.
I looked on Amazon and saw the newer Scotch Thermal Laminator , and the AmazonBasics laminator was listed right below it for quite a bit less.
Even just a few dollars saved makes a big difference when you’re on a teacher’s budget.
Is the Scotch Laminator worth more than the Amazon Laminator?
I decided to compare the two laminators side-by-side.
Best Teacher Laminator: Aesthetics
The first thing I noticed when the AmazonBasics Laminator box came in was that it was so small. It was absolutely TINY compared to my old Scotch Laminator. Looking at them side-by-side was almost comical. It just looks so sleek compared to my old one.
Comparing it to the new one, though, it looks about the same. The Scotch Laminator is a little larger and a little bit heavier. If I had to choose one for my back counter and easy transporting between home and school, I would choose the Amazon Laminator.
Best Teacher Laminator: Features
Both of these personal sized laminators are equipped to use a laminating pouch that has a closed end. Both can handle 3 mil and 5 mil thick sheets. The Scotch Laminator has a 5 foot long cord. The Amazon Laminator’s cord is about 4 inches shorter.
Both machines have a “release” feature in case there are any jams. I have never experienced a laminator jam (knock-on-wood) so I can’t say which one works better. But, it’s nice to have.
Best Teacher Laminator: Warm Up Time
Laminators have to warm up before they are ready to go. I turned both the laminators on at the same time. The Scotch Laminator was ready to go in just under 6 minutes. (The green light turned on at 5.58.)
Are you ready for this?
The Amazon Laminator was ready to go in THREE MINUTES.
HALF the time of the Scotch. ??
Why does three minutes matter to me? Because it’s usually in the morning before school or on my (already short) plan time that I’m plugging it in to run a few papers through. Three minutes extra is a long time to wait for it to warm up!
Best Teacher Laminator: Actual Laminating Time
Now this is where things get dicey for the Amazon Laminator. The paper I sent through the Scotch Laminator took about 48 seconds to laminate from start to finish. The AmazonBasics Laminator took 1 minute.
That times seems pretty significant if you’re sitting there, waiting to add another page. That time could really add up if you were laminating a ton of things.
If you would rather wait longer for warm up to have shorter laminating time, the Scotch Laminator may be your better bet.
If you don’t mind waiting 12 extra seconds for each sheet to finish laminating as a trade off for cheaper price and shorter warm up time, then the Amazon Laminator may be right for you.
Best Teacher Laminator: Lamination Quality
Both laminators did an excellent job laminating both regular paper and cardstock. The lamination held together, even when cut, bent, twisted and folded. (I did all of that, just for you! ?)
A Teacher’s Final Verdict on the Best Teacher Laminator
After all of that testing, comparing, and laminating, which machine would I choose? Both machines performed well, so it really comes down to personal preference. For my needs, I would definitely choose…
🏆The AmazonBasics Laminator🏆
…hands down! 🙌🏼
I love the size, weight and aesthetic. It’s easy to slip into my teacher bag if I want to take it home for the weekend as it’s so light and doesn’t take up hardly any space.
A shorter warm up time is really important to me as I often only need to laminate a few pages, especially on my plan time. If I am ever going to be laminating a lot at once, I will usually put on a movie or a show while I do it. In that case, I wouldn’t notice a few extra seconds for each sheet to finish.
The Scotch Laminator is really great, too! There really wasn’t a huge difference. It came down to the warm up time and the cost. I love that the AmazonBasics Laminator costs a little less so my teaching budget can go a little further.
Teacher Laminator Price Tips
We know that prices on Amazon are constantly fluctuating. If you’re like me, you’re looking for the best deal, always.
I’ve done lots of research on the matter, so I wanted to give you some price tips based on the laminator of your choice. Remember, I’m sharing my personal opinion on the price of these laminators after lots of research! 😉
If you can find the AmazonBasics Laminator for $22 or less, you’re getting a great deal!Check current price
If you see the Scotch laminator on Amazon for $30 or less, you’re getting a great deal.Check current price
Best Teacher Laminating Sheets
You can’t laminae without laminating sheets, am I right?
I get many emails each week asking which laminating sheets I use.
The AmazonBasics Letter Size Laminating Sheets and the Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches are almost exactly the same.
They are high quality, sturdy and cut really nicely. I honestly do not notice much difference between the two.
The winner is: 🏆whichever pack costs less at the time I need to buy!
That’s right, I fluctuate between the two brands. When I run out of sheets, I buy whichever one is cheaper.Compare Current Prices of Scotch & Amazon Laminating SHeets
Are you looking to get a new laminator or update yours? Which one would you choose: the Scotch Brand Laminator or the AmazonBasics Laminator? Or do you have another laminator that you love? Let me know below! 👇
The Scotch Thermal Laminator has dropped in price to just $19.97 on Amazon! This unit typically runs about $30-40 elsewhere. This laminator has an average 4.5-star rating after 1,100+ customer reviews and is currently the top selling laminator on Amazon (and ranked #5 of all items in Office Products!).
Here’s a description of this product, from Amazon:
- Laminates items up to 9 inches wide
- Two roller system with two temperature settings
- Suitable for use with photos
- Will laminate pouches up to 5 mil thick
- Two 9.4″ x 11″ laminating pouches included
I don’t consider myself super crafty, but I did end up snagging this item a couple years ago myself. It’s very easy to use – right out of the box. Just turn it on, and run your item through a thermal pouch. It will then slide through the laminator and voila – you’re done!
What could you use this for?
- Kids craft projects
- Make your own laminated flash cards
- Preserve special photos
- Laminate membership cards or other important documents
I also used this laminator to make pressed flower bookmarks last year:
Purchase the Scotch Thermal Laminator on Amazon (and don’t forget the Scotch Thermal Pouches!)
Remember, prices and availability can change at Amazon without warning.
The 8 Best Laminators of 2021
If you want a laminator for handling regular-sized items, then go with the lightweight AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator (view at Amazon). It’s compact, budget-friendly, and gets basic jobs done. For bulk laminating jobs, splurge on the speedy GBC Fusion 7000L (view at Amazon), which is loaded with cool features.
What to Look for in Laminators
If you’ll only be laminating occasionally, you probably wouldn't care so much about speed. But if you’re doing lots of laminating, you’ll want something to churn out finished documents as efficiently as possible. Look at how long different models take to warm up, as well as how many inches per minute they can laminate to compare speeds.
Will you be laminating standard size items like business cards or photos? Or, will you be dealing with odd shapes and sizes? Think about your intended use to see if you should go with a standard laminator or one that can accommodate larger document widths. Also, look at the mil thickness—this will affect how thin and flimsy or thick and sturdy your laminated documents will come out.
Automatic paper jam and thickness detectors, built-in paper cutters, and different temperature settings are just a few of the features that laminators offer. If any of those bells and whistles are important to you, see what’s included in the laminators you're considering getting.
What can you laminate?
Laminators can be used to protect any piece of paper, from small documents like an insurance card or car registration to photos, school projects, and handouts.
What’s better, a hot or cold laminator?
There are pros and cons to both hot and cold laminators. The main difference is that hot laminators use thermal heat whereas cold laminators use pressure and films with stronger adhesives. Cold models may be safer since there is no risk of getting burned, but they are also pricier. Some laminators also have a cold setting that lets you choose between hot and cold laminating methods. For heat-sensitive documents, such as old photos, cold lamination may be a better choice.
What is the best temperature for laminating?
Hot laminators usually get to temperatures over 210 degrees, though some films that are classified as “low melt” can laminate at lower temperatures (around 185 degrees).
Meet the Expert
This roundup was updated by Dawn Papandrea, a personal finance reporter who covers small business topics. She is a full-time freelancer with two decades of writing experience.
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