When considering the lamination process, it can be difficult to determine which film to use for effective application. Here, we’ve laid out some basic characteristics of each to better inform you of your lamination possibilities, giving you further insight into which thermal laminating film would be right for your project.

There are three common laminating films most often used in the printing industry. They are:

Polyester (PET): This film is the most popular in the marketplace, but it’s certainly not the cheapest. PET is used in most print shops, including schools and large production commercial printers for two-sided applications. There are elastic components in the material that makes it less breakable for better long-term use. It can come in both gloss and matte finishes. The best application for this type of laminate includes restaurant menus or ID cards with magnetic strips (essential due to the rigidity of polyester). Polyester has the widest range of thicknesses, from 1mil up to 10-15 mil.

Polypropylene (OPP): This version of laminate renders colors brighter than polyester, leaving you with a glossier finish. It’s the least expensive choice and it contains the softest quality, making it easier to run. It’s commonly used in most one-sided applications like high production commercial laminating and packaging printers. It’s malleability allows the laminator to more easily separate and ‘burst’ the sheets apart after finishing. This film is very receptive to coatings for techniques like spot UV, foil stamping, etc.

Nylon: This film type is a breathable laminate, allowing moisture to travel through the film so as to not get trapped under the plastic and cause a curling/warping effect. Nylon is the most expensive film on the market, but it’s best used for soft-cover book covers and book jackets as it has excellent abrasion resistance.