Shrink wrap is a widely used packaging option comprising of polymer plastic film that shrinks when heat is applied to it. On shrinking the film conforms to the shape of the product being packaged, totally enclosing it and securing it tightly. Shrink wrapping services can provide skilled support staff, different shrink wrapping equipment to cater to a large range of products and package sizes. They would be able to provide a wide variety of gauges and widths best suited for packaging your products. Through their continuous investment in new equipment, they would be able to provide the latest in shrink wrap packaging capabilities. A better understanding of the different shrink wraps and their properties would help you to choose the correct wrap and services provider for your packaging needs.
Types of Shrink Wrap
The three main types of shrink wrap available in the market are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) shrink wrap, polyolefin (POF) shrink wrap, and polyethylene (PE) shrink wrap. Each wrap type has different capabilities and characteristics and the choice of wrap depends on what product is being packaged. All wraps can be individually used to co-extrude into multilayer wraps and further enhanced with different additives to provide specific protective properties to improve the shelf-life or appearance of the product.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Shrink Wrap
PVC shrink wrap is a lightweight, thin, pliable, and inexpensive packing material. It was the most commonly used shrink wrap used in the world but is being steadily replaced by polyolefin (POF) shrink wrap due to the various health issues associated with the creation, incineration, and sustainability of this material. It shrinks only in one direction and is highly resistant to tearing or puncturing. This wrap leaves carbon deposits on sealing components of the packaging machinery. The PVC shrink wrap hardens in cold conditions and softens under hot conditions thus hampering the strength of the seal and the plastic.
The presence of chloride in the shrink wrap prevents it from being used for the packaging of edible products. The usage of this shrink wrap causes the emission of toxic fumes during heating and sealing, making it necessary to be used in well-ventilated areas. It has strict disposal standards and due to its chemical composition and harmful by-products released during its creation, and decomposition, PVC has been banned in many countries.
Polyolefin (POF) Shrink Wrap
Polyolefin shrink wrap is an extremely durable and versatile material. It has become the preferred choice for packaging products for both edible and non-edible products. Polyolefin materials are available with different characteristics, including the cross-linked wrap. The cross-linked wrap is created when irradiation is applied to standard polyolefin shrink film. This wrap provides increased puncture resistance, seal strength, and clarity. It also leaves fewer residues on shrink wrapping machines. Polyolefin can be stored in a wide range of temperatures without affecting the durability of the packaging. It is made up of 100 per cent recyclable materials.
Polyolefin is more expensive than PVC shrink wrap and in some instances, tiny holes need to be added to the wrap before application to allow air to escape during the shrinking process. There are pre-perforated shrink wraps also available for this purpose. Machine compatibility is also a significant drawback for POF shrink wrap.
Polyethylene (PE) Shrink Wrap
Polyethylene is a stronger and more durable type of wrap that is mostly used for industrial applications.
Polyethylene is created when ethylene is added to polyolefin during the polymerization process. Polyethylene wrap can reach a gauge thickness of up to 1200 and are also printable. There are different forms of polyethylene but the most common among them are LDPE or Low-density Polyethylene, LLDPE or Linear Low-density Polyethylene, and HDPE or High-density polyethylene. They each have various industrial applications with LDPE form most commonly used for shrink film packaging.
PE shrink wrap does not have a high shrink rate, usually around 20 per cent, and it has significantly lower clarity when compared to the other wraps. PE requires more prolonged heat exposure to shrink fully and is not conducive for packaging heat-sensitive products.
Thorough knowledge of the different types of shrink wrap available in the market can help you to decide the correct choice for your requirements. It is always best to partner with a shrink wrapping services provider to help you with custom packaging solutions that match your business needs.