“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 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:
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 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:
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
- Wrapping boxes and pallets of products
- Cost-effective (particularly with pre-stretch)
Shrink Wrapping Applications/Advantages
- 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.