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When to Use Stretch Wrap and Shrink Wrap?

Jan. 05, 2022

One of the most commonly misused terms for stretch wrapping paper is shrink wrapping paper. Often, people who use stretch wrappers refer to them as shrink wrappers. Ironically, the two machines look nothing alike, and they don't perform the same functions to provide the same results.

Read on to learn what shrink wrapping is and how it differs from stretch wrapping. We'll also discuss when you should use each type of wrap and how SMARTWASP can help you find the right machine for your needs.

Shrink Wrapping

The purpose of a shrink wrapper is to apply heat to a polymeric plastic film that shrinks to the product it is covering. This process is usually done with some sort of heat gun or handheld device. Sometimes it is done with a larger shrink wrapping system about the size of a desk.

When the film is shrunk onto the product, the wrap is usually used to wrap the product or individual packages of products. For packaged products, you can imagine boxes of cereal shrink-wrapped into cardboard containers to pack them together.

When to use

When packaging individual items for retail, you may need to use shrink wrap to protect your products from damage or contamination. When packaging food products, always use shrink wrap, not stretch wrap.

Shrink wrapping is rarely used to secure products to pallets for shipping. This is where stretch wrap machines come in handy.

Stretch wrapping

Stretch wrapping paper is used to secure multiple products that are typically boxed or crated and hold them in a uniform position on a pallet. The process is accomplished by applying tension to a stretchable film and wrapping that film tightly around the product on the pallet. Unlike shrink wrapping, there is no heating or shrinking of the material involved in the stretch wrapping process.

Stretch Wrapping Machine

Stretch film is tightened by mechanical tension or electronic tension. The film is then lifted up and down on a pallet so that the entire pallet can be "wrapped" in film. This process ensures that the item is tightly bound and the load is secured so that it arrives intact after shipping.

The same result can be achieved with a rotary arm stretch wrap machine. With a rotary arm stretch wrapper, there is no turntable. Instead, the product stays on the pallet. The rotating arm then rotates the pallet with the film stretched around the product.

When to Use Stretch Wrap and Shrink Wrap?

When to use

Stretch wrapping is more often used when applying film to industrial products. The film used in the stretch wrap process is usually thicker than the film used in shrink wrap. Thicker film makes it more resistant to punctures and tears, making it ideal for heavier products that are shipped over long distances.

When it comes to stretch wrapping, SMARTWASP is the industry leader in providing pallet wrappers for warehouses. If you are looking to save time and money, you should consider upgrading your in-house processes from hand wrapping to machine wrapping. If you are considering an investment and you should learn more about the pre-stretch process, email us for solutions and we are here to help you in every way.

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