Much removed from gangsta rapping, shrink wrapping and stretch wrapping are a couple of the go-to methods for protecting products and especially keeping them intact and upright during transport. There are similar concepts between these two, but also oft-neglected and important differences. Shrink and stretch wrapping get confused frequently, so we decided there was need enough to write a blog post clarifying their differences and their indicated uses. They may not increase sales in albums on Google Play Music, but they can help you move cases of widgets in the direction of store shelves.
Stretch wrapping is usually made from polyethylene plastics. As the name implies, it can be stretched over a stack of boxes to make them stay together and keep the tower upright. It’s most commonly used for stacks of boxes or cases on a pallet for transportation or storage. There are a few varieties of stretch film that serve specific purposes. Some notable examples of these include ventilated pallet wrap, colored film, anti-static stretch wrap, pre-stretched wrap, and UV stretch wrap. Its protective qualities include repulsion of dust and moisture, and the UV stretch wrap can protect against high-frequency radiation. Among pallet wrap options, stretch wrap is among the most economical. The tools and equipment needed to work with the material are also lower-cost than a lot of other options, including shrink wrap, which will be covered shortly. This category of packaging is rather versatile. Different films exist to accommodate different types of products and surfaces.
There are a few options for needed equipment. Here’s a brief rundown:
- Automatic stretch wrappers are machines that cut and seal the plastic using conveyor belts and other mechanical methods. These are faster and better suited to high-production, but also higher in cost.
- Semi-automatic wrappers come in several versions. A rotary wrapper rotates about a still stack. Orbital wrappers feed the stack through a ring of stretch wrap. Turntable wrappers spin the stack in place and a roll of film moves vertically while unraveling.
- Manual stretch wrappers have a handle that allows them to be easily unraveled by a human worker as they’re moved around a pallet. One of the easier-to-use options is the pole-wrapper. Some manual models come with a mechanical brake and brake-resistance mechanism. Manual stretch wrappers are recommended if you’re wrapping fewer than 15 loads a day.
The application of heat lets loosely-laid plastic conform to the shape of the load. The material is usually polyolefin or a polyethylene plastic. The heat source for shrink wrapping can be a heat tunnel, a handheld heat gun, or an oven. Heat tunnels radiate heat onto the item as they’re brought into and back out of the tunnel by a conveyor belt. Heat guns emit a stream of hot air and are preferred for more professional-looking products. It should be noted that shrink wrap shrinks at ∼300℉. If you’re shrink-wrapping a pallet, the handheld device is likely preferable, although shrink wrapping is not used for pallets very often. There are automatic and manual devices for sealing such as L-bar and I-bar sealers. Many methods from manual to fully-automatic shrink wrap sealers are able to cut and seal the plastic film together. The next step is the application of heat to actually shrink the wrap. Shrink wrap’s primary purpose is to keep small items bound together and protect them from moisture and dust particulate. Moisture buildup is prevent by the ventilation inherent in shrink wrap. Polyolefin is for retail applications like the plastic that holds rolls of Christmas wrapping paper together. Polyethylene is typically not used for high clarity retail applications, such as 12 packs of water at the local grocery store.
When I’m at a party and rap starts playing, that means my time at said party has come to an end. We’re now at the end of our brief discussion on the differences between these two similar methods of plastic wrapping. We hope you’ve learned something valuable about this topic, and we hope you continue enjoying our posts about all things packaging. Remember, whenever you feel ready to address the packaging needs of your growing business with an expert, we’re here to help. We are the experts, and we’ve sold hundreds of solutions to happy customers. their bottom lines have expanded thanks to our services, and we would be thrilled at the chance to do the same for your firm. Our offerings come with prices much lower than other comparable providers as well as many years of success and the expertise that brings. We look forward to discussing your vision with you!