Shrink and Stretch Wrapping: Differences and Applications

“Go ahead and shrink wrap that pallet”, my boss said before he walked out of the warehouse. I leaped into action only to waste 15 minutes searching for a shrink wrapper in the warehouse. There wasn’t one. As my boss returned, he said to me in an annoyed voice, “Ok, what was confusing about shrink wrapping the pallet?”. “I noticed there isn’t a shrink wrapper here, sir”, I said. He stared at me for a second before replying, “Ok…I guess it is hard to miss”, then he grabbed the pallet jack and wheeled the pallet over to a large, conspicuous stretch wrapper just 20 feet away.

There is a common confusion regarding shrink wrapping and stretch wrapping. These two applications have something in common: they are both methods of packaging something in plastic. However, these applications package things much differently and for different purposes.

Shrink Wrapping

Shrink wrapping is the process of using shrink film, a material comprised of polymer plastic, and heat to seal products inside of the shrink film. The heat application process can be done via either a heat gun or a shrink tunnel. Packaging manufacturers like Seal-A-Tron produce shrink wrapping systems for industrial applications. A shrink-wrapped item will look something like this:

Image result for shrink wrapped product

In some cases, entire pallets of produce can be shrink wrapped to provide a form of product protection in transit and/or storage. However, most applications involve individual products, especially food products.

Stretch Wrapping

Stretch wrapping is the process of wrapping stretch film, a highly stretchable and elastic plastic film, around products. The elasticity of the stretch film pulls the products together and keeps them secure. This process is often performed with a turntable stretch wrapping machine like Orion’s Flex CTS Twin Station Stretch Wrapper, although many options are available for different user needs. A stretch-wrapped pallet looks something like this:

Image result for stretch wrapped pallet

This particular pallet was also strapped and equipped with corner board, a form of protective packaging, for optimal protection and security in transit and in storage.

Which One Should You Use?

This question is best answered by requesting more information from the R.V. Evans team. However, to get you started, a brief breakdown of a couple advantages and applications is shown below.

Stretch Wrapping Applications/Advantages Shrink Wrapping Applications/Advantages
· Wrapping boxes and pallets of products

· Cost-effective (particularly with pre-stretch)

· Protection from dust, dirt, and moisture

· Typically used to secure single products

· Best choice for food products

R.V. Evans Co. would be happy to provide you with any additional information you need at 1-800-252-5894 or via the website.

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Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Shrink Film?

Most people are currently using a particular gauge of shrink film because that’s what has always worked. What many people don’t know is that based on their specific application or process, there are several options available to reduce their shrink film usage and increase their bottom line. Most proactive shrink film projects are focused on corrugated reduction by using a PE (Polyethylene) shrink film instead of corrugated box. This can be done with a bundler.

In order to show a film savings, down gauging or downsizing the width of the film needed. This can be accomplished in a couple different ways.

rv-evans-shrink-film-gauge-guide

Determine the correct film width

The image to the right is a formula that can be used to determine the correct film width. By determining the dimensions of the product that you are packaging into the formula, it will provide the correct width of film that should be used in the process.

Switching to an automatic side seal

In a high speed or high volume application, going from an automatic or manual L Bar Sealer to an automatic side sealer can offer tighter package dimensions of film, therefore resulting in film reductions.

You can also save money through other options. One simple solution is switching the size of the shrink film roll to a jumbo roll, which has twice the footage. The benefit of this is fewer changeovers needed which results in less downtown.

Utilizing pre-perforated shrink film is another step that end users can take advantage of. By having the shrink film pre-perforated, there is no longer a need for handling or maintaining a perforating wheel. Perforating wheels are comprised of hundreds of small pins used to poke through the shrink film to make hundreds of small holes (perforate it.). After a while, these pins begin to become dull from extended use. When this happens, maintenance is required on the wheel and all of the small pins need to be sharpened again which can be time consuming. The use of pre-perforated shrink film also results in less downtime and fatigue caused from setting up the roll on the wheel.

Just because a shrink packaging process is working does not necessarily mean that it is the most cost effective solution for that specific application. Having a Packaging Specialist analyze and consult with you on your shrink packaging process can help reduce material costs and increase productivity.

For more information on shrink film solutions or a free consultation feel free to contact us at sales@rvevans.com or visit us at www.rvevans.com or call 1-800-252-5894

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