9 Items “Shrink Wrap” Can Refer To, and Which You Need

Shrink Wrap, what does it mean? Here are ten different uses for Shrink Wrap and which one may suit your needs.

Shrink wrap is one of those allusive terms applied to many different things, and sometimes the term is misused. One of the most common confusions is with Stretch wrap. These two terms like to play tricks on each other and invade each other’s territory as often as possible. Stretch wrap or stretch film is the material used to wrap boxes and other items on pallets or bundle two or more products together.

As the film stretches around the product, it becomes elasticized, and like an elastic, it wants to return to its original size. As the name implies, as the stretch film stretches over the product or items bundling together, it binds them because the stretch film wants to return to its original size.

On the other hand, shrink wrap or shrink film, the subject of this article, is a material that has the characteristic to shrink when heat is applied to it. When a product is surrounded with shrink wrap and heat is applied to the shrink wrap, then the shrink film will shrink, creating a tight wrap around the product.
Shrink wrap can be made from several products, but the most common are PVC, polyethylene (PE), and polyolefin (POF). Let us look at ten items that use the term ‘Shrink’ or ‘Shrink Wrap’ in them and how each one could fit your needs.

PVC Shrink WrapPVC Shrink Wrap is made from polyvinyl chloride. This widely used shrink film is used in many packaging applications, like books, gift bags, and other applications. Proper ventilation is required when working with PVC shrink wrap.
Polyethylene Shrink Wrap (PE) – Polyethylene Shrink wrap is becoming the go-to shrink wrap in the shrink wrap family. It is flexible, strong, and durable and can be used to bundle larger, heavier products. Polyethylene shrink wrap provides one of the thicker types of shrink wrap, and while it might not be able to shrink as much as PVC or POF, its strength makes it a favorite for heavy and other industrial applications.

Polyolefin Shrink Wrap (POF)Polyolefin Shrink Wrap is a very versatile film that comes in several forms to fit your needs and has many applications. It is strong, and clear making it a good choice for displaying items and bundling items together. An additional benefit of Polyethylene Shrink Wrap is that it is an FDA approved material for direct food contact.

Pizza Shrink FilmPizza shrink film is a food-safe film to protect pre-made pizzas. It comes in a roll of film that can be easily torn for quick use in pizza preparation sites. It is light enough for fast-shrinking times and strong enough to hold the pizza together. Because of direct contact with consumable products, pizza shrink film is made from a single wound, food-safe polyolefin shrink film. Easy tear sheets allow customers to quickly rip off the roll as needed.

Barrier Shrink Bags – A specialized vacuum bag for removing oxygen from food packaging, providing extended shelf life and protection. Barrier shrink bags are used with meats and cheeses. Many companies use a dip tank for shrinking barrier bags after a vacuum seal has been made.

Printers Shrink Wrap – Printers Shrink Wrap are single wound shrink rolls with perforations for easy tear sheets. A favorite among printers that like the professional look it gives to a stack of freshly printed flyers, not to mention that it keeps all the flyers neatly together. Printers Shrink Wrap is particularly useful because it already comes perforated for easy tearing.

Heat-shrink tubing – Heat-shrink tubing is a plastic tube used to insulate and protect electrical wire by wrapping the wire with it and applying heat. Most heat shrink tubing is made from thick, colored polyolefin tubing. Heat guns can quickly shrink the tubing around wires as needed.

Marine/Industrial Shrink Wrap – Similar to scaffolding shrink wrap, marine shrink wrap is a thick shrink wrap film used to protect boats from the elements during winter and long-term storage. Marine or industrial wrap can be from 6 to 20 mils thick. Common colors are opaque white and blue. Shrinking takes the use of a propane heat gun.

Shrink Wrap Bands – Shrink Bands are used to protect against tampering in many bottles and jars in the food and health industry. Made from PVC and PETG they provide an excellent and durable seal. Many companies print on bands to provide branding and a tamper evident seal.

Pallet Shrink wrap bags – Pallets are usually wrapped with stretch film, but it is possible and sometimes desirable to wrap pallets with Pallet Shrink Bags. The Pallet Shrink Bag is a thick four mil bag that can protect the pallet’s contents against the elements and product tampering.

PVC Shrink Tubing Shrink Tubing comes in a roll varying from 2.5″ to 28″ wide, and it is perfect to wrap items of varying lengths. It can be used to cover bottles and other tubes, and it easy to make your own shrink wrap bags out of it.

Cross-Linked Polyolefin Shrink Wrap – On this bonus item, we see that this type of film wrap is made of the same material as the Polyolefin mentioned above with the difference that irradiation has been applied to it. When used the irradiation then links different chains, it cross-links the chains creating a crossed link of polymer within the film resulting in a high tensile strength film, making it ideal for high-speed packaging and other specialized applications.

Plastic Food wrap – On this second bonus item, we have plastic food wrap. While food wrap, also known as Saran Wrap, is not a shrink wrap, it is often confused with shrink wrap. Saran wrap has a very clingy quality created by applying a static charge to it, which allows the material to cling to itself and other surfaces like glass.
It works great in the kitchen, but it is not shrink wrap.


As we have seen, whether the shrink wrap is made from PVC, polyethylene (PE), and polyolefin (POF), the basic characteristic shared is the film will shrink over the product when heat is applied to it. It is available in several forms and thicknesses to provide the correct amount of strength and protection. Shrink wrap film is ideal for either your business, big projects, or hobbies to protect, seal, and or keep your products together with the use of heat.

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