TIA imageThe "Toner Image Applicator" is our acronym for using a 'pouch laminator' to apply high heat and pressure to transfer a toner-printed image to metals as an "etch resist" for circuit boards or 'chemical milling' (etching solid metals).

Tamerica Model: "SM-330"

There are of course a lot of poucSM-330 imageh laminators abailable on the market, however, only a very few work properly to deliver enough roller-pressure and heat to work with our techniques. It's a rather narrow window for inexpensive laminators to be able to deliver what's needed, and unfortunately, none of the low-cost "3~5mil" laminators carried by the major retailers like Office Depot, Staples, etc, in the $50~$100 range) do not work well at all. You want the "10-mil" type of unit.

SM-330 ControlsTamerica Logo

Over the years, we've recommended different laminators from time to time for various reasons; discovery of better performing units, safety aspects or better priced off-brand labels. There are many 10 mil type laminators on the market, with prices that range from $140 to over $400. However, the absolute "best bang for the buck" comes down to two "named" retailers online. We suggest checking out "Laminator.com" and "MyBinding.com". This is a 13lb unit, so check their shipping rates too. Also Google "Tamerica SM330". You should find several more competing companies.  

The beauty of this newest recommendation is that it features the best of the "must have" specs that earlier laminators either didn't have or required the user to modify them internally to make them work properly. Besides the basic requirements to deliver the correct temperature and pressure at the correct transport speed, here are the following features to make the best unit on the market in our humble opinion.

Major Features of the SM-330:

  • UL & CA Listed Certification

  • Over-temp heater shutdown

  • Self-adjusting rollers for optimum pressure

  • Stable electronically controlled temperature to 330ºF

  • Heavy-duty Reversible motor

  • Very good Korean design over cheaper Chinese models

  • The SM-330 has had a long sales history - proven track record

  • Tamerica Products, Inc. (USA importer based in California)

  • Weight: 13# (boxed shipping weight)

  • 30-day Mfg. Warranty

Here are the instructions specifically for use with our "direct etch" process...

MANUFACTURER vs. OUR  INSTRUCTIONS: The operational instruction sheet included with this laminator is for use with conventional plastic ‘pouches’ to seal documents and photos as its designed purpose. For use with our products, disregard this sheet and don’t use any cardboard “Carrier” envelope, rather, follow our instructions included with our prouducts. Finally, disregard the placard above the “Ready” light as it doesn’t apply when using our products.

TEMPERATURE: Rotate the temperature control fully clock-wise. Whenever the unit is turned on, allow the unit to fully ‘heat-soak’ the rollers for a minimum of 20 minutes even though the “Ready” LED may be lit. The neoprene-coated rollers need to absorb maximum heat for proper performance with our products.

COOL DOWN: After you are done using the unit don’t just turn it off! First rotate the temperature control fully
counter-clockwise and allow the unit to cool down for at least 15 minutes before turning the unit off. This prevents the rollers from developing a ‘flat-spot’ due to the rollers are not turning while it cools down!

MOTOR SWITCH: Always leave this switch in the forward (run) position. We recommend NOT using the 'REV'erse position except when necessary in the event of a jammed condition. The switch is spring-loaded to the middle “motor off” position. If the motor isn’t turning the rollers it could develope roller bubbles as the heaters stay on!

MAXIMUM CLEARANCE: This laminator is classified as a “10mil” laminator. This does not mean the total thickness that can be passed through the unit, rather it means how heavy of a plastic pouch it can melt to seal a document. (Pouches come in 3, 5, 7 and 10mi thicknessesl THIS is what 'rates' any pouch laminator.) The maximum thickness that can be passed through this unit is .080”. (For PCB users, that would be an .064” board with two sheets of transfer paper to make a double-sided board.)

SAFETY FEATURE: This unit has ‘overheat protection’ that will shut down the heaters if a malfunction occurs. Questions? Call us anytime at (850) 926-2009. We’re open weekdays, 9am - 5pm MST.



NOTE: The SM-330 (above) is only wired for 110v. Here is a list of other laminator units to look for that have worked well with our process but may take a bit of searching to find them.

ASC365 Laminator

"No Name" Generic: This is the generic 'look' for a basic design out of China that can have "names" for importer's private labeling for various companys.

To find onein your country, try to limit a Google search to your geographical area or country. Go to "www.google.com/images" and type in the words "pouch laminator' in the search field. You will see hundreds of pictures. When you see one that looks like this generic unit above, click on the "View Website" to get to the retailer who is selling it.

Although this unit is fused, that doesn't help if you have an overheat problem which is our main complaint about this very capable, but cheap design. We HIGHLY recommend putting a conventional 'smoke detector' above the unit and NEVER leave the area while it's running as a malfunction of a very inexpensive thermistor can cause a thermal runaway and potentially burn up or possibly catch fire. Additionally, the 'roller presssure' need adjustments to provide more "pull down" pressure. This will have to be played with to achieve the greatest roller pressure without bottoming-out the springs via 4 adjustment screws which you will see when the top cover has been removed.