navy and light blue stripes on sides with text shrink packaging and how to use it in center

Shrink Wrap Packaging and How to Use It

Shrink wrap packaging is an essential tool that’s used by a huge variety of industries and businesses. We often see it utilized to protect fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, books, small merchandise, and much more. This is because it is a convenient and effective method for bundling a group of items together, while also safeguarding them against contamination and making it obvious when the package has been tampered with. Additionally, shrink wrap packaging is usually transparent in color, which allows you to display your products clearly and beautifully. Shrink wrap packaging, which is also commonly referred to as shrink film, is a handy tool for a wide range of different applications, meaning that it’s essential that you to know just how to use it.

The Shrink Wrap Packaging Method

When it comes time to actually apply shrink wrap packaging to your products, you’ll go through a simple two-step process. The first portion involves wrapping your goods in the film and during the second, you’ll seal the plastic by applying heat in order to make it shrink, which is how it gets the name shrink wrap. There are two ways to perform both parts of the process – either manually or with the help of an automatic shrink wrapping machine.

Part 1: Wrap then Seal

The act of physically wrapping your items can often be done by hand, but that process is somewhat time consuming and doesn’t provide the highest quality results. This is why many businesses decide to invest in automatic shrink wrap equipment– it saves time and money over the long run, while producing more consistent work. Most commonly, the product will pass through a shrink wrapping machine where it will be wrapped internally and then sealed by an “L” bar.

shrink wrap packaging wrapped around bottles before entering automatic shrink wrap machine

An “L” bar is named because it is shaped like a backwards L and the device creates a fully sealed film around each individual item. Should you choose not to purchase a machine, you’ll simply wrap the product by hand.

Part 2: Bring the Heat

After a shrink machine wraps your goods, they will then be heated so that the film can shrink around them and receive the best protection. There are a few ways that this can be done, but most often, the items travel along a conveyor where they will pass through a heated tunnel. They’ll face significant amounts of heat that cause the plastic to shrink in just a few quick seconds. Because it takes so little time, the heat only affects the film itself and not the actual item that it protects. 

worker removes shrink wrapped bottles from automatic shrink wrap machine

Alternatively, if you prefer to take care of your shrink wrap packaging manually, you’ll want to consider a heat gun. They can be easily carried around your warehouse, feature different settings for different needs, and can be operated by just about anyone.

Not too Big and Not too Small

With any kind of packaging material, it’s key that you rightsize your supplies to fit your goods. If they are too big or too small, you’ll likely end up wasting money on materials, fixing product damage, or both. For shrink wrap packaging, this means ensuring that you have enough extra material so that it can be effectively shrunk down around your products, but not so much that you have excess film flapping around your items. Keep careful track of your product dimensions and the method you use to shrink wrap them in order to determine the correct amount of material. The dimensions you should always know are your product’s length, width, and height. Understanding this will help you:

  • Waste less material
  • Improve your packaging efficiency
  • Speed up your packaging process without sacrificing quality
  • Increase your material yield per roll of shrink film

We’ll Find You the Right Shrink Wrap Packaging

Ready to get started on your shrink wrap packaging process? Let IPS Packaging & Automation help. We have teams of expert packaging and packaging automation specialists standing by, as well as a dedicated and highly knowledgeable engineering department. These individuals will answer all of your questions and examine your unique setup in order to find you what works best for you – not what’s best for the other guy. Contact us today at (800) 277-7007!