questionswhat should i look for in a laminating machine?

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Mrs. Durkzilla is a pre-school teacher's aide, and has burned through a couple of laminators.

They are like hair dryers, eventually they will all burn out.

The ones that have lasted longest are the ones that use a cardboard sleeve. They tend to jam less when the plastic doesn't come into contact with the heat rollers.

Basically, the machines are two heated rollers that apply pressure to each other - don't spend more than $50 and expect to replace it every 2-3 years.

This one at Amazon looks a lot like the one she has now...

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I know nothing about laminating machines (I go to Kinkos), but I wanted to say happy birthday, Leo - even if it is a day late.

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I've owned several. I always buy bigger than I need, used, from the business/industrial section on eBay. Make sure it's 110 volt and pay as much as you can afford- it'll still be cheaper than the junk meant for 'home use'.
I know that's pretty open-ended, but that's worked for me thus far. Get something that more than meets your maximum specs, make sure it's all there. In my case, sometimes it'll be a year before I need 1 again, so I sell it.
I've NEVER lost money, particularly now with businesses STILL closing.

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I say you buy something from the Scotch Thermal Laminator series. They are usually under $30, and the TL901 from that series is generally well-reviewed.

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on my first quick read through, I thought this said "lamenting machine" so I pictured a machine that shows you sad pictures, sprays onion fumes and periodically pinches you without warning...