Staying in the Know About Shrink Wrap

What is Shrink Wrap?

Shrink wrap, also known as shrink packaging or shrink film, is the tough clear plastic film that is tightly wrapped around packaged items. Shrink wrap gets its perfect fit through a heating process that shrinks the plastic to the contour of the product.

The Many Ways Shrink Wrap Can be Used

Shrink wrap is used by many different industries with people discovering new ways to use it every day. From protecting products that we all know and love to big savings on storage space and money, one thing we know for sure is that shrink wrap is here to stay.

  • Printed Materials – As one of the biggest markets, this ranges from small job shop printers to large business form producers. Most companies perform this within their own facility.
  • Toys, Games, and Sporting Goods – These all reap the benefits of shrink wrap. By using shrink wrap, products such as puzzles and games stay safely protected and looking brand new.
  • Hardware and Houseware – Gone are the days of corrugated and blister packaging for items like tools or plastic bowls- shrink wrap has this covered.
  • Prepackaged Food – This includes a large variety of freezer foods. Shrink wrap is used to keep your frozen favorites looking great and freezer burn free, giving it a longer shelf life and peace of mind that your food has not been tampered with.
  • Stationary, Cards, and Gift Wrap – Shrink wrap keeps these products damage-free and in pristine condition.
  • Pharmaceuticals – With the increased need for evidence of tampering, this market trend is growing. Shrink wrap provides the ability to reduce cost by multipacking with film instead of using other more costly packaging

What is the Cost?

It is good to know how much the film will cost for each package. Shrink wrap is sold in rolls that are priced by the square foot or square inch.

Shrink Wrap vs. Stretch Wrap: Is There a Difference?

The short answer is yes. Shrink film is sealed around the product. It is then heated to shrink to the product, so it fits like a glove. Stretch film is stretched and wrapped around a load, creating tension to keep it from shifting while being transported.

How is Shrink Wrap Made?

At IPS Packaging & Automation, our shrink wrap products are coextruded films. Polymer resins are loaded into a hopper at the tail end of the extrusion equipment. The resins are then pushed through a heated barrel by a screw which is pushed down the barrel. After that, the resins are melted, compacted, and forced through a circular die.

We then use multiple extruders to feed the melted resins into one single die. The resin from each of these extruders is then layered over one another as the melt exits the die, giving us a multilayered product.

The extruded structure shaped like a tube is then turned up, turned down, then filled with air, making its tube shape transform into a bubble shape. The bubble is then stretched on both axes – horizontally by airflow and vertically by a set of pinch rollers drawing the tube down. This is known as bi-axial orientation. Bi-axial orientation is where shrink film gets its much-needed strength.

The pinch rollers collapse the bubble shape into sheet form where it is then rolled on a core called a mill log. The mill logs are then turned into the finished product. The final stage of the shrink wrap manufacturing process is slitting the film to width or folding, in the case of centerfold film.

Shrink Wrap Systems                     

One of the most important steps in designing a superb packaging process is making sure you have the right shrink wrap equipment. Shrink wrap systems are designed for many different applications, performance levels, and budgets. Be sure to think about not only your present needs but also future needs.

Questions for Consideration:

  • What do you want to shrink wrap?
  • What will your shrink wrap packaging speed be?
  • What is the BIG picture for your shrink wrap system?
  • What size package do you need to shrink wrap?
  • Do you have limitations within your workspace?

Shrink Wrap Sizing

Shrink wrap sizing, also known as package sizing, is put into action when deciding what the right size films need to be for overwrapping a specific package. There are a lot of factors to consider when sizing the film requirements. Two of the main things to think about are your products’ dimensions and package orientations. If this information is not correct, you risk running into the issue of calculating the wrong film size.

Be sure to know the three dimensions of each package. This includes your products’ width, length, height, and orientation. Knowing these dimensions and ensuring they are precise will result in less shrink waste, increased packaging speed, and increased film roll bag yield.

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