How to Remove Lamination from a Document

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Removal of lamination from a document, or delamination, can be done with a combination of heat and cutting, but several factors need to be considered before beginning the process.

How old is the document? If the paper inside the plastic is brittle, it may fall apart even when worked on carefully. What’s the condition of the lamination? Older plastic can be easier to get off the document if the seal is starting to wear, or tough if the plastic has fused. Does the paper have an ink stamp or any other materials that can be damaged by heat? These variables may influence how the delamination is done.

This tutorial will outline how to heat up the laminate and remove it with a combination of peeling and cutting. Keep in mind that some lamination has glue only around the edges while others are completely adhered to the paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron

  • Small cotton rags or sheets

  • Utility or X-ACTO knife, or scissors

Step 1

Heat your iron as hot as it can get. Be careful when handling a hot iron.

Step 2

If the lamination plastic extends beyond the document, trim the plastic as close as possible to the paper underneath without damaging it.

Step 3

Place a thin cotton rag or sheet over the laminated document so the plastic doesn’t melt onto the iron and the document doesn’t get too hot.

Step 4

Iron the cotton sheet over the lamination for about 10 seconds, focusing first on the edges and corners of the plastic. Different types of lamination will require more or less time. Go slowly at first and apply heat in short bursts to avoid damaging the paper underneath. If the plastic or paper curls, stop heating.

Step 5

When an area of plastic detaches from the paper, slice into the plastic to create a lip.

Step 6

Gently and slowly pull the plastic back from the paper. You may want to use a stapler or piece of plastic to hold down the paper while peeling. Check carefully if any ink is adhering to the plastic or if the paper is tearing, which may influence your decision to continue. Depending on the type of lamination, the plastic will need to be re-heated several times to enable removal.

Step 7

Repeat the heating and cutting process to remove the plastic. This can be a slow process and rushing may damage the document.

Step 8

If you find that this process isn’t working on the laminate, it may have been created with two pieces of plastic. In those situations, the paper may be removed with cutting. Look for a seam between the two pieces of plastic and carefully cut between the two sides of it. Be mindful that this approach can damage the document unless you slice exactly.

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