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What’s the Difference between Stretch Wrap and Shrink Wrap

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People often confuse stretch wrap and shrink wrap and use the terms interchangeably, not being aware that they have their own distinct features and serve quite different purposes.  Stretch wrap is a highly stretchable plastic film that is wrapped around items. The self-adhering elastic film keeps the items tightly bound.  In contrast, shrink wrap is applied loosely around an item and shrinks tightly with heat. 

Stretch Wrap, also known as stretch film, is made of highly stretchable material that is usually wrapped around palletized loads or heavy bulk items. Stretch wrap is commonly applied at the end of the packaging process before the products are shipped on to their final destination.  Its primary purpose is to keep products from shifting during transport.  The stretch wrap can also be used for more efficient handling as well as storage of big loads.  It also prevents dust, dirt and moisture from interfering with the wrapped materials, being tamper and pilferage resistant.  Stretch wrap does not shrink and is not affected by heat guns or shrink tunnels.

Shrink wrap, also often called shrink film, is a flexible packaging film that is sealed around a product and heated in a shrink tunnel.  The heat inside the tunnel causes the film to shrink in all directions around the wrapped product for a tight clear fit. Shrink film can be thin for wrapping lightweight products or thick for heavier multi-packing applications.  For smaller wrapping purposes, a heat gun can be used. For larger ones, the heat tunnel or even a conveyor can be of great help.


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