The Difference Between Shrink Film And Stretch Film

When packaging your items, you may wonder which film would be the right one to use. Many people confuse stretch film with shrink film, but they are not the same. Both of these films are used for entirely different purposes. The matter of fact is that there are different methods for the deployment of both types of film. One of these films needs to pass through a heat tunnel to package products. Doing the same with the other type results in a fire.

What is shrink film?

Shrink film is the packaging material that consists of polymer-based plastic. This film shrinks when it is heated at a specific temperature. Packagers or handers apply heat to this film using a heat gun or a heat tunnel.

For the packaging of small products using shrink film, using a heat gun is an appropriate option. This gun looks similar to a hairdryer. Using a heat gun to package the products is a manual process.

A heat tunnel, on the other hand, is a machine that automates the product packaging process. This setup utilizes an L-bar, a conveyer, and the heat tunnel itself. The product, loosely placed in sheet, moved along the conveyer on this setup. It reaches the L-bar, which comes down on the sheet to make it a product packet. This packet then moves into the tunnel where the application of heat causes the film to shrink around the product.

The shrink film is an ideal solution for the packaging of food items, including frozen pizza boxes and other frozen foods.

What is a stretch film?

The use of stretch film is the most traditional, yet the most effective, way to secure large pallets loaded with several product packages. The reason we call this the stretch film is that it consists of an extremely stretchable polymer-based plastic sheet. Its elasticity ensures the tight binding of products on a pallet. Many of the companies deploy stretch film using stretch wrap machines, which eliminate the need for manual work.

If you are not a large company with a bigger production facility, your packaging process will be less hectic, understandably. That could mean no need for an automated way of stretch wrapping, as you will be better off with the manual application. That’s where you can consider using a stretch wrap dispenser, which is a hand-held tool used for the deployment of stretch film over a bundle of products. However, this manual application does require a bit of labor work, which might get intense with an unexpected spike in product orders.

As mentioned above, the stretch film is an ideal solution for securing the bundles of products.

Types Of Strapping Materials And Their Applications

It’s the job of strapping to bundle the products together in warehouses and on pallets. There are a variety of options that you can choose from while purchasing the strapping materials. It’s necessary here to know what the best choice for your application could be.

There are three primary categories of strapping materials: polypropylene (PP), polyester (PET), and steel. Let’s briefly discuss each of them.

Polypropylene Strapping

One of the most commonly used strapping materials is the Polypropylene Strapping, which comes with different widths and tensile strengths. The embossed surface gives this strapping material a better ability to get hold of the bundle being strapped.

The polypropylene strapping can be applied using both the manual tools and the fully automatic ones. If you have only a few pallets or bundles to strap a day, you can consider manual tools. But if you see several pallets in line waiting to be strapped daily, you can consider using the automatic option.

Applications, for which polypropylene strapping is the ideal option, include:

  • Printed materials
  • Direct mail
  • Flooring
  • Millwork
  • Appliances
  • Clothing
  • Foods
  • Pharmaceuticals

Polyester strapping

Polyester (PET) strapping generally comes with a smooth texture, but it can also be embossed. Most of the PET strapping materials use recycled materials during their manufacturing process.

The most significant features of heavy-duty polyester materials are their tensile strength and enhanced thermal tolerance. With more reduced tension decay over PP, the PET strapping can hold the tension for longer durations. This feature is particularly of significant benefit when it comes to shipping over long distances.

If you have rigid loads to ship, and you also want the strapping to absorb impact during transit, you are going to find polyester strapping the best option. Applications, for which the PET strapping may be the right option, include:

  • Lumber
  • Metals
  • Pallets of bottles and cans
  • Bricks
  • Heavy loads
  • Tiles

Steel Strapping

The use of steel strapping has reduced significantly over time, but it has a history of being the most preferred strapping option for the goods or items that couldn’t be held in containers. As of today, this strapping option remains ideal for railroad transport that involves the transition of large and bulky items.

An application has to be heavy-duty to qualify for utilizing the steel strapping option. It is worth mentioning that steel doesn’t expand or contract once it secures the bulk. The top applications of steel strapping may include:

  • Steel coins
  • Heavy manufacturing
  • Construction materials
  • Metals
  • Baling wire
  • Railroad shipping

What option to go for

Which option you choose depends entirely on your application. Sometimes, the nature of your packaging application might confuse you about what option to choose. In such a scenario, you may have to have a thorough look at the strapping requirements of that application. You can also consult with the qualified packaging consultants to get a bit of valuable advice.