For years, roll laminators
have been used in schools, churches, print shops and larger organizations to laminate all sorts of different materials. However, the size and cost of these machines kept most smaller users from purchasing a roll laminator. Most individuals simply didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on a laminator or didn't have a place to keep a machine that weighed over 100 pounds and was almost three feet wide. With this in mind, GBC (General Binding Corporation) released a new 12" wide roll laminator that was designed to address some of these problems. I took this new GBC Ultima 35
EZload roll laminator for a test drive and here is what I discovered.
After you get Ultima35 out of the box, get it all set up and turn it on the first thing that you will notice is that it is very quick to warm up. In fact, it only took between 1-2 minutes for it to warm up. Compared to most roll laminators (and a lot of pouch laminators) this is extremely fast. This makes it possible to increase productivity by decreasing the time that it takes to laminate your first document.
One of the main reasons that GBC
developed the Ultima 35 was to address issues with users loading their laminating film backwards on their machines. Every year, the single most common reason for service calls on laminators is that users load the film with the adhesive side facing the rollers and end up with a huge mess. The Ultima35 eliminates this problem by using special laminating film that has keyed rollers. One side of the film comes with a light blue adaptor on it and the other side comes with a dark blue adaptor. The two sides are different sizes; this means that it is impossible to load the film into the machine the wrong way.
The Ultima 35 is actually a fairly versatile machine. It accepts roll film that is 1.7mil, 3mil and 5mil thick. The specifications from GBC state that it can also handle 10mil film. However, 10mil film is not currently available and there is no expected date for its release at the time of this review. In addition to regular gloss films, GBC also released some matte films for the Ultima35. These are new offerings for the 2008 calendar year.
In working with the Ultima35, there were several other features that I noticed that are worth pointing out. It has an adjustable speed dial that will allow you to adjust for different materials that you are laminating and for thicker films. It also has a forward and reverse feature that can be used to help with the removal of film wraps or jams. Finally, it has a built in trimmer to assist in cutting the finished laminated materials from the machine.
At this point, you might be wondering "what's the catch"? Well, every great machine has a few drawbacks. One potential drawback of the Ultima35 is that the supplies for it are proprietary. This means that you will need to purchase the special laminating rolls that are designed specifically for this machine. These supplies are slightly more expensive than standard laminating roll film. However, the machine is considerably less expensive and this is a reasonable tradeoff for such an inexpensive feature rich laminator.
The Ultima-35 is limited to 12" wide rolls. This means that you can laminate anything up to twelve inches wide. However, it will not be able to handle posters or other large format documents. If you are going to need to laminate these types of materials you will need to look for a larger machine. The Ultim35 Ezload
is also not capable of using specialty laminating films and won't do mounting. These are not common applications but I thought that I should point it out just in case you are looking for a machine that can do these things.
The final limitation that noted with the Ultima35 is that even though it is impossible to load the film backwards, it isn't really any easier to load than a traditional laminator
. You still have to carefully thread the film through the correct path in order to get it threaded onto the machine. This can be a little bit tricky and it might take you a few times before you master it.
The Ultima35 appears to be built well and should hold up over time. The sides of the machine are plastic and the feed tray is metal. The gears inside are metal. You might want to be careful with the trimming device on the back of the machine, it might get broken if you aren't careful. The only other thing that I noticed on the machine that I was looking at was that it was a little bit loud when I had it on. There is a fan near the back of the machine that helps to cool the unit. This fan sounds a little bit like a loud computer fan. It is more of an annoyance but it is worth noting.
I wouldn't be doing you justice if I didn't mention the fact that you should be careful about what you feed through your laminator. You shouldn't try to laminate things that will melt, plastics, sharp objects, glitter or materials with glitter on them or 3D objects. All of these things can quickly ruin your laminator and it will not be covered under the warranty if you do attempt these things.
The Ultima35 is a great machine for a small office, home office, or organization that needs to do a bunch of laminating and is looking for a low cost roll laminator
. It has a number of features that you won't find on any laminator in its price range. If you are looking for a 12 inch laminator and want a cost effective solution, the Ultima-35 Ezload is a good bet.