What Is Shrink Film?
Shrink wrap is a thin, flexible polymer plastic sheeting. Also called shrink wrap, this material can be used to wrap and protect goods for shipping, display, and unitizing. However, shrink-wrap film is different from standard plastic wrapping. Once the material is wrapped around an object, pallet, or other unit, operators can apply heat via a handheld heat gun or a heat tunnel to make the plastic sheeting shrink and compress tightly against the surface for a secure, clear hold.
What Is Shrink Film Used For?
Shrink film protects goods from environmental hazards, keeps them collected as a single unit, or simply makes them look aesthetically pleasing on display. Rather than using expensive or aesthetically unappealing options like cartons to store or ship goods, manufacturers and retailers can turn to shrink wrap. Not only does it provide a clear, shiny finish around the surface of the packaged goods, but it also ensures a tight hold without crushing the contents.
The most common application for shrink film is packaging in the food and beverage industry, where it is used to package and protect food items, such as frozen pizza and perishable food products, including meats and cheeses. Other popular applications for shrink film include:
- Paper and printer packaging
- Hardware and tools packaging
- Packaging for games, gifts, novelties, and toys
- Automotive parts packaging
- Club store presentations and packaging
What Are the Different Types of Shrink Film?
Because shrink film is used to store, ship, and display a wide variety of goods, there are equally varied types of shrink wrap designed to accommodate different applications. What is shrink film made of? Shrink wrap can be developed from different plastics, such as center-folded or single-wound polyethylene, PVC, and polyolefin. The materials can also be treated for anti-static characteristics or manufactured in tubes or cylinders, not just sheets. Packaging services can also combine shrink wrap with different bands, tamper-evident labels, and branded labels.
Learn more about the three main material options for shrink film—polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyolefin (POF), and polyethylene—to find the right fit for your next project.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC shrink wrap is a popular option for general wrapping and shipping applications. Traditionally, it was the most commonly used material until polyolefin became the preferred option. Still, PVC is frequently used today for non-consumable goods, such as boxes, software, small containers, and CD or DVD packaging. Because PVC is such a popularly used plastic, it can be cost-effective.
Polyolefin has become the most popular choice for shrink wrapping because of its incredible flexibility and ability to provide a strong seal. It also has fewer odors than other types of plastics. Because it doesn’t include any chlorine molecules, it won’t off-gas hydrogen chloride throughout its use cycle. Manufacturers can wrap both edible and non-edible goods in polyolefin shrink wrap, making it an even more versatile option for goods ranging from food to stationery and cards to sporting goods and toys.
POF is also preferred because it doesn’t have plasticizing additives. Plasticizers don’t always respond well to temperature changes and can lose their elastic quality. This makes it more reliable than PVC, which will harden or soften based on environmental conditions.
A sub-type of polyolefin, polyethylene, is a single monomer film that incorporates ethylene during the polymerization stage. It can be used in shrink film and stretch film. It also comes in three main varieties: high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and linear low-density polyethylene. Manufacturers can use polyethylene in lieu of corrugated cardboard cartons to bundle and ship goods. Not only does this reduce the weight of shipments, but it can save users a lot of floor space and trucking space. Contact our team for testing samples to see the difference.
What Are the Benefits of Shrink Film?
Switching to shrink film can provide a wide range of benefits that affects nearly every stage of packaging, shipping, and displaying. Plastic shrink wrap is flexible, can be used on a wide range of products, and is strong enough to replace other packaging materials without adding bulk. Some of the key advantages of shrink wrap are its ability to:
Shrink wrap, especially cross-linked films, can securely hold goods of all shapes and sizes. Cross-linked films are designed to resist puncturing or tearing from sharp edges to guarantee a strong hold. This makes it a great material for reducing tampering or theft, for use in high-volume packaging systems with automated equipment that might otherwise damage products, and for concealing smells or extending the shelf life of different goods.
Improve Product Presentation
Polyolefin is a highly customizable plastic that can be developed to add a glossy surface finish, reduce fog on cold products, and reduce the moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) of consumable goods. Manufacturers can also print custom branding and graphics on polyolefin shrink wrap.
Align With Sustainability Goals
Both POF and polyethylene are recyclable. POF also doesn’t off-gas hydrogen chloride during the shrink-wrapping process.
Shrink wrap is strong, prevents breakable or damage, and replaces the need for corrugated materials. Not only is shrink wrapping becoming increasingly accessible as the technology becomes more affordable, but it also mitigates other costs, such as conventional shipping materials and product loss.
Contact TPC Packaging Solutions for Shrink Film
At TPC Packaging Solutions, we provide high-quality shrink film solutions that fit any product or load. Contact us today to learn more about optimizing your processes with shrink film capabilities.
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