Lamination is useful for a different range of applications than encapsulation. It is generally used to improve the appearance of paper media, such as book covers, menus, or similar items. In addition to improving the look of the item, it also adds to the life of the product by making it more durable, so is useful where repeated handling of the item is common. Encapsulation on the other hand uses a thicker finish, and is sealed at the edges making it waterproof.
With lamination, a thin layer of plastic is adhered to one or both sides of the items, and is trimmed flush with the edges. This makes it ideal for applications such as business cards. The coating is generally fairly thin (under 30 microns). It should be noted though that although it adds some degree of protection from moisture, it is not waterproof.
Different finishes are available, and include Matt, Gloss or Satin.