Unraveling the Best Solution – Stretch Wrap vs Shrink Wrap

By Michael Kralstein | Stretch Wrap

Dec 21
Stretch Wrap vs Shrink Wrap

When it comes to protecting products throughout storage and shipment, one of the most common questions we receive is whether stretch wrap vs shrink wrap should be used. Even though both of these types of wrap have several differences, they are commonly confused.

Fortunately, the experts at AAA Polymer are here to to provide clarification on the similarities and differences between stretch wrap vs. shrink wrap. Continue reading to learn more about shrink wrap vs stretch wrap and the applications where each may be used.

What Is Stretch Wrap?

Stretch wrap — also called stretch film — is a clear type of plastic film with the consistency and appearance of saran wrap. This material is commonly used to bundle or wrap items together and offer an added a level of stability for storage and/or shipment. Also called cling wrap, stretch wrap or stretch film has the tendency to stick together when it is wrapped over itself.

Stretch wrap can be applied manually by simply wrapping the material around the product. In addition to being able be applied by hand, stretch wraps can be applied by machines as well. Stretch wrap machines are engineered to quickly and efficiently apply the film to pallets of products. With stretch wrap, cling wrap, or stretch film; you do not need to use heat to apply.  

What Are the Benefits of Stretch Wrap?

  1. Price - One of the key benefits of stretch wrap is its cost effectiveness. It's far less expensive than other types of materials used to wrap pallets. At the same time, stretch wrapping equipment can be significantly cheaper than comparable machines for wrapping.

  2. Protection - Stretch has been used for several decades to securely protect products from moisture and dust. Depending on the type of film you need, it can also offer protection from UV as well.

  3. Adaptability - Stretch wrap is extremely versatile can be suitable for virtually any and every application. Stretch wrap it even applicable for different types of surfaces.

What Is Shrink Wrap?

Shrink wrap is another type of plastic film that is clear. Yet, shrink wrap doesn't have those same clingy-type of saran wrap or stretchy characteristics. In most instances, shrink wrap may be used to wrap a single product, but it may be used to wrap multiple products together.

Unlike stretch film that is wrapped around a pallet of products or a product several times, shrink wrap is actually cut around the product using a shrink wrap bar or a heat sealer. Once heated, the shrink film compresses around the product forming a seal. In the end, shrink wrap offers a protective, tamper proof barrier with the appeal and look of a professionally packaged product.

What Are the Benefits of Shrink Wrap?

  1. Protection - Similar to stretch wrap, shrink wrap is excellent for delivering protection from weather, dust, and dirt. Shrink wrap is also excellent for providing an added level of moisture protection.

  2. No surface damage - Whenever the shrink wrap is applied properly, you minimize the likelihood of damage during shipping.

  3. Breathability - Today's shrink wrap can be ventilated, which will significantly reduce the likelihood of moisture damage.

Stretch Wrap vs Shrink Wrap

Now you have a better understanding of each materials and how it's used, let's discuss the differences between stretch wrap vs shrink wrap.

Plastic Resins — Shrink vs Stretch Wrap

One of the first differences between the stretch wrap vs shrink wrap is the material the plastics are made from. While stretch wrap is typically made from polyethylene resins, shrink wrap is created from polyolefin films.

Applying Stretch Film vs Applying Shrink Wraps

Stretch wrap is a stretchable plastic that is wrapped tightly around a load of products. The elasticity of the stretch wrap is what keeps the load together. In contrast, shrink wrap can be loosely applied to a product and will shrink to securely cover the product once heat is applied.

Uses of Stretch Wrap vs Uses Shrink Wraps

Stretch wraps are commonly used throughout different warehouses and distribution centers to wrap pallets of products for storage and or shipment. Stretch wraps are offered in a wide array of specialty custom films, such as colored stretch film, UV stretch wrap, pre-stretched film, and much more.

In contrast, shrink wraps are commonly used to protect a single product from weathering or dust. Shrink wrap can also be used to tightly combine smaller products together. Although shrink wrap may be used to combine products on a pallet, it's less likely. Shrink wrapping is far more common for protecting items like boats, outdoor furniture, and food items (vacuum sealing).

Contact AAA Polymer for More on Stretch Wrap vs Shrink Wrap

Since 1974, AAA polymer has been the leading name in providing high-quality stretch wraps and films. In addition to offering a vast range of stretch film products, we offer the expertise to guide you to the best solution.

Contact AAA Polymer today to learn more about the several stretch wrap applications.  

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About the Author

Michael Kralstein started working in sales full time for AAA Polymer in February 2000. In 2006, he became the Sales Manager of our can liner division. He currently manages all aspects related to can liners.

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