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Difference Between Shrink Wrapping and Stretch Wrapping

Aug. 23, 2021

Shrink wrap and stretch wrap are both perfect packaging solutions - both are tear-resistant, water-resistant, dust-proof and help hold bundles together for storage, shipping and retail. But what are the differences and how do you use them? Let's take a look.

Both are used to wrap individual products so that they can be put together for shipping and storage. Both are made of the same stuff - usually polyethylene - and both are usually good at protecting products.

The key difference is in how and why they are packaged. Stretch wrapping sees the product wrapped tightly in the packaging film until everything is secure. In the process, the stretch film is stretched to about 300% of its natural size and tries to shrink back to its original side when it's in place - thus holding the goods securely.

Shrink wrapping does the same thing, except then it is heated to 100 to 150ºC and allowed to cool - and then shrinks further to form a tighter fit around the item.

Difference Between Shrink Wrapping and Stretch Wrapping

What is shrink wrap film?

Shrink wrap film is made from a type of plastic called polyolefin - most commonly in the form of polyethylene and PVC. it is a strong, often transparent - although it doesn't have to be, as we'll see - and provides protection against heat, cold, and dust. -and provides protection against heat, cold, moisture, dust and other contaminants.

It provides a puncture-proof and secure way to hold items together for storage and transport when heat shrinking on goods and pallets, and is an ideal way to package items. Continuous shrink wrap rolls are ideal for packing oversized and irregular loads.

A shrink wrapper can be used to wrap both and shrink smaller items. These are ideal for retail products as the clear packaging allows for professional presentation of the item and is highly secure and tamper-proof as the film has the shape of the product.

For larger loads, the equipment needed to perform the packaging includes pallet wrapping machines that can rotate the pallets and pack the goods, as well as heating equipment to perform the heat shrink.

What is stretch wrap film?

For all intents and purposes, stretch wrap is the same as shrink wrap - you just don't heat it to shrink it. When a stretch wrap machine is used to wrap pallets and products, the film stretches to 200% to 300% of its static length. Once applied, it tries to pull itself back to its original size, holding on to the product.

Blown stretch film is tear and puncture resistant, suitable for deep freeze storage, and comes in six thicknesses and two widths - it can be black or clear.

There is also cast stretch film, which is clear, tear-resistant and will adhere to itself and the product to ensure a secure hold. By adhering only to itself, it prevents the product on the pallet from moving during transit. This type of pallet packaging is very popular in the food industry.

How to choose?

It's all about what you want to do with the goods. Stretch wrap is usually used more for shipping, and usually, boxes are found and more often they are placed on pallets for shipping. While shrink wrap is usually more commonly used to display your products, it is used to package products in retail, food and pharmaceutical companies to protect goods for sale. You may have seen the piles of goods in supermarkets and the items in boxes on pallets.

If you want to know more about wrapping films and machines, please contact us.

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