Thanks to their visual similarities, stretch films and shrink wraps are often confused with each other. While both are used in packaging and palletising, these two types of packaging supplies couldn’t be more different, despite their identical transparent plastic film appearance. To set the record straight, we enumerate four distinct ways these packaging supplies differ.
1. Materials and properties
Stretch films are made from linear low-density polyethelene (commonly known as LLDPE). This component gives the material the capacity to stretch before breakage point and increased puncture resistance.
On the other hand, shrink wraps are typically made from PVC or polyolefin that makes it heat sensitive and gives it the property to shrink and protect products.
2. Application and use
In terms of application, stretch films are either applied by hand or with the help of a machine. They are wrapped and rotated around the pallets with enough tension to bind the loads together via the material’s elasticity. These packaging supplies are specifically used in palletising for storage or transport. Since they are puncture-resistant and elastic, they’re great at binding loads together and preventing them from shifting during transport.
Shrink wraps are applied differently. They are hand wrapped loosely around the product and, using a heat gun, shrunk to snugly it and secure the product. Machines can also be used to shrink the packaging materials easily and evenly. While shrink wraps are also used in palletising, they are more often used in product packaging to protect products from weather, abrasion, dust and other materials.
What are the varieties you should look out for when searching for stretch films? Some stretch films come pre-stretched for easier application. Other packaging suppliers also have variations such as colours (for easier stock/product designation and segregation), anti-static varieties (for electronic products), and UV protection varieties (to protect from sun damage and light exposure).
When considering shrink wraps, ask your packaging supplier for other shrink wraps that are laminated with special plastics. Some shrink wrap variants are food-grade packaging used in meats, fruits, vegetables and cheeses. They are used for outer protection but shouldn’t be confused with glad wrap.
Finally, stretch films are relatively cheaper compared to shrink wraps and typically require no electricity during application. Shrink films need a heat gun for an even shrink and often comes more expensive than stretch films when it comes to palletizing. However, shrink wraps have multitude of uses compared to stretch films.
Know exactly what packaging supplies to use in your business to save time and money. Using the right packaging supplies for their intended purpose also maximises them to meet your specific needs and demands.
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