Can I Print with a Cold Press Laminator?

Yes. Absolutely.

I spent years hand pressing with a spoon. There is huge satisfaction to be had by the beauty of putting all the pressure through your body, exhausting yourself physically and building the anticipation of the reveal. Because anyone who hand prints will know that every single outcome is different. When you lift a corner of the paper and get that first glimpse, you can drop and continue for a refined finish, or continue to peel if you’re happy.

It’s a game of roulette as the pressure will never, ever be consistent. But that’s all part of the fun right? Until you’re doing A3 or larger print runs. Then the novelty becomes laborious.

Unfortunately I am unable to justify the £3k price tag on a dedicated printing press. Don’t misunderstand me – they’re absolutely worth their money, but with a home and 3 children, I always see other areas where that money could be better spent.

So, one day I was trawling through one of my social media groups for Linocut printmakers. It was mentioned that it’s possible to print on craft presses (such as the Big Shot) which were primarily for die cutting. But these are small so not what I needed. When I looked further in to this I found that a small number were using what was called a Cold Press Laminator. A very simple device with 2 rollers and a short bed either side.

At the time, these were extremely cheap for what they were. As I had been looking at £3k presses, £80 for a 75mm Cold Press Laminator was a steal! I bought mine from Sinzworld (https://signzworld.co.uk/), but I believe that since word has got out about this new use for their product, the price has gone up. It’s still incredibly affordable though.

I would advise you to buy the largest size you can possibly fit in to your working area. The two short beds either side fold up, meaning it’s just the width that you have to contend with when storing. I’m fortunate to have a dedicated studio so mine sits out on the desk permanently.

I always get questioned on the clearance between the rollers, as it’s obviously not as flexible as a dedicated press. I have found it to be considerable enough that I can fit through all the components needed for a linoleum sandwich and have wriggle room. I personally use either:

3mm mdf / linoleum / paper / ikea blanket

Or:

Cutting mat / linoleum / paper / silicone baking mat

I switch between these depending on the size of print, the type of print and the texture of the surface. The best thing I could advise for you is to play about.

My studio set up
Sandwich with a cutting board and silicone baking mat.

Another question I am often asked, is why people’s prints slip and smudge. There is a very simple answer to this – you are using too much pressure. I cannot impress upon you enough, that the key to a successful print on a cold press laminator is getting the sandwich right and then using the smallest amount of pressure possible to render your image. When you use too much, it will slip. If you are finding that your image is patchy (like in the image above) troubleshoot your ink and sandwich first. Are you working your ink enough prior to application? Are you adding thin layers to your linoleum and building it up? What is the texture of your paper? Usually the answer is far more simple than adjusting the pressure.

The final question I am asked A LOT is if you can use a CPL as an etching press. Due to the amount of pressure required, my gut instinct would advise against it. A cold press laminator isn’t designed for high pressure and you risk damaging the thread. I have never tried it myself and probably won’t.

Before you buy, do your research.

There is a company out there which is buying cold press laminators, changing the wheel and selling them as printing presses with a huge price tag. You really don’t need to pay this amount or be swayed by the wording. You’re getting the same product.

I am a huge champion of the Cold Press Laminator as an affordable printmaking press. The results are consistent and if you take care of it, you’ll have a professional standard tool for many, many years.

If you have a question that I haven’t answered here, please pop me a message and I’ll endeavour to answer!

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