The term shrink wrap is a generic term often used in commercial packaging, retail packaging, food packaging, and industrial packaging. Because a lot of our business is composed of shrink wrap products we get calls all the time for “shrink wrap” quote requests. Often times people do not realize there are many different types of shrink wrap as well as many materials shrink wrap is made from.
We thought it would be helpful to write an extensive blog post about the different types of shrink wrap. Because the types of shrink wrap vary in range dramatically, we do not offer all of the types mentioned. Every type we offer in the list below will have a connected link.
Before we get in to the types of shrink wrap, we want to make a quick mention to what shrink wrap is not. The most mistaken product referred to as shrink wrap is stretch film. The plastic wrap product often used to wrap pallet loads. Though called a shrink wrap, no heat is applied and the stretch film does not actually shrink. It is a stretch film, stretch wrap, or often called a pallet wrap.
All of the types of shrink wrap listed below require heat to be applied for the material to begin shrinking. We have tried to offer possible suppliers to consider for the types of shrink wrap we do not offer.
Types of Shrink Wrap
Centerfold Shrink Wrap– One of the most common types of shrink wrap for retail packaging. Centerfold shrink wrap is folded in half length-ways and placed on a roll. This allows users to slide the product being wrapped between the film, seal the open ends, and then apply heat. Centerfold shrink wrap is most commonly made from PVC and Polyolefin. Some suppliers do offer a Polyethylene centerfold shrink film.
Shrink Sleeves- Another very common type of shrink wrap for retail packaging. Shrink sleeves are often printed on and placed over bottles to brand products. Shrink sleeves often have a lower maximum shrink rate to keep from distorting printing. Preparing plates and design mock ups can often be extensive as well as meeting required product minimums. A couple companies to consider contacting for shrink sleeves are: Source One Packaging and shrinksleevelabels.com.
Shrink Tubing– The main difference between shrink tubing and shrink sleeves is shrink tubing is often on a continuous roll. Shrink sleeves are pre-cut to fit the product being packaged. Shrink tubing is often made from PVC of Polyethylene. Tubing made from PVC is often used for retail packaging longer objects, while polyethylene tubing is often used for packaging cases of liquids and canned products.
Another common use for shrink tubing is electrical shrink tubing. It is often made from a seamless, very thick polyolefin. Electrical shrink tubing is not commonly used in packaging so we will not go into much detail. Some great sources for electrical shrink tubing are Grainger and more locally Autozone.
Shrink Banding- Shrink banding is another form of tubing or sleeve except much smaller. Most people are familiar with shrink banding as a safety seal wrapped around over-the-counter medicines and toiletries. Shrink banding is often made from a PVC shrink wrap and requires a low shrink temperature. Shrink banding often comes with easy-to-open perforations. Most shrink banding is custom made to fit the specific bottle being packaged, but some companies do stock a lot of different banding sizes. A few companies to check out if interested in shrink banding are: packagingoptionsdirect.com and SKS Bottle and Packaging.
Shrink Bags- Shrink bags are very easy to describe. They have three enclosed sides and one open side. Users insert a product inside the bag, seal the open end and apply heat. Shrink bags are most commonly available in PVC, but we offer PVC and food grade polyolefin shrink bags.
Industrial Shrink Wrap- Industrial and Marine shrink wrap is often very thick heat shrink wrap made to wrap large objects. One of the most common uses for industrial shrink wrap is the winterization of boats. Industrial shrink wrap can cover and protect boats and other objects during harsh winter months. Industrial shrink wrap is often made from Polyethylene or Polypropylene. Thicknesses often start at 6 Mils and go up to 20 Mils. Several online companies offer Industrial grade shrink wrap. Here are a couple of companies to check out if interested in industrial shrink wrap: Dr Shrink and Big Shrink.
Single Wound Shrink Wrap– Single wound shrink wrap is an industry term that means a lay flat shrink wrap. It is simply wound onto the roll flat instead of centerfolded. Single wound PVC and Polyolefin shrink wrap are very difficult to find these days. Most packaging machines are made for centerfolded PVC or Polyolefin shrink wrap. One of the most common single wound shrink wraps is a Polyethylene single wound shrink wrap. Single wound polyethylene rolls are very commonly used with high speed shrink bundlers for packaging water and a variety of other liquids.
Shrink Tape- Shrink tape is often used in place of electrical shrink tubing. Users often wrap electrical wires with shrink tape and apply heat to them to shrink and fit to wires. Shrink tape is often used to connect multiple wires together.
Another form of shrink tape is used for Industrial shrink wrap mentioned above. The shrink tape is often used to connect two sheets of industrial shrink wrap or repair holes. If interested in the electrical shrink tape visit Xtremetape.com. For the industrial shrink tape, Dr. Shrink sells it online.
Pallet Shrink Wrap Bags– Prior to the popularity of stretch film, pallet shrink bags used to be the preferred method of stabilizing and protecting pallet loads of products. Pallet bags are normally made from 3-6 Mil clear polyethylene shrink wrap. Pallet bags are often shrunk with a propane heat gun. They are used to stabilize and protect products during transport.
We are sure somewhere along the way we missed a couple of types of shrink wrap. This should cover the majority of types for anyone looking on the web. Hopefully this post will serve as a guide to assist in finding the right type of shrink wrap for your specific application. If you are interested in one of the many types of shrink wrap we offer, please visit www.uspackagingandwrapping.com.