Stretch Wrap Or Shrink Wrap

By: Thomas F. Zotter

The majority of our customers who order stretch wrap call it shrink wrap and these are people who use the product daily. What hope is there for those who are not regular users of these products? And for that matter, who cares?

Well if you need one or the other, you should care and just about every industrial, commercial or distribution company uses these products. The last thing you need is to order a product that won’t work for your application, especially in these time sensitive days. These are two very different products used for very different applications.

Let’s clear up the confusion. Shrink wrap film is made from polyolefin plastic, while stretch wrap is made from polyethylene plastic.

Shrink wrap is generally used to protect a single product, such as the plastic over toys at the toy store or CD's when you first buy them. Shrink wrap gets its tight seal through a heating process. The product is wrapped and heated with a hairdryer-like tool or put through a heat tunnel. Shrink wrap can also be used for bundling products together, such as bottles of soda. In some cases, shrink wrap is used for palletizing although it is far less common that stretch wrap for this application.

Stretch wrap is generally used to hold boxes on a pallet for transport. Stretch wrap is pulled around the load and stretched. The plastic has a memory and wants to return to its original size. This "elastic band effect" holds the load tight.

Generally stretch wrap comes in 12", 15" and 18" sizes for hand wrapping and 20"-60" sizes for machine applications. Shrink wrap is available in most even number sizes between 4-20" and is generally “center-folded", that is the film is folded over itself to form two layers. The product is inserted between the two layers and sealed on the remaining three sides, then shrunk by heat.

For more information on these products you can take a look at “Stretch Wrap 101" on our website www.allstarsupply.com.

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