Shrink film is a commonly used material in the packaging industry. It forms an excellent protective barrier around finished goods. It is also a cost-effective solution, depending on the applications and quantities.
What is Shrink Film?
Shrink film is sometimes known as “shrink wrap” or even “shrink wrap film.” It is a special polymer material generally used for packaging products. When heat is properly applied to the film, it catalyzes the polymer material to shrink tightly around the item. A clear, durable barrier form-fit around the product protects it. No need to know the magical science of how shrink film works; just know it’s an extremely versatile and effective packaging material.
Like all packaging materials, shrink film is available in a variety of options with different thicknesses, colors, and opacities. Distinct polymers provide unique strengths and shrink ratios. Selecting the right shrink film and using it to its best efficacy is important.
Types of Shrink Film
Various types of shrink film are ideally suited to different packaging and product protection applications. The three most common shrink film materials are polyolefin (POF), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polyethylene (PE).
Polyolefin Shrink Film (POF)
POF is generally considered the premium shrink film option because it is durable and can be used in many disparate applications. It has overtaken PVC in popularity in recent years because it is a safer material. Polyolefin is FDA-approved as a food-safe packaging film. This is important to know if you are packaging food products like fruits, vegetables, meats, candy, or any other food item that will benefit from shrink film packaging and protection. It offers added strength, so you can often find POF available in longer rolls of film with a thinner gauge material (as low as .35 millimeter gauge).
Polyvinyl Chloride Shrink Film (PVC)
PVC shrink film has always been a popular and dependable option because it is inexpensive and can be used for many different shrink film applications. More manufacturers are moving away from PVC because it is less environmentally friendly and can be hazardous to make or incinerate. However, it is still used in certain applications where other materials aren’t as effective or affordable. PVC can be applied to rigid packaging, such as blister or clamshell packaging, or it can produce a flexible form for shrink film or bags.
Polyethylene Shrink Film (PE)
Polyethylene is a special type of polyolefin. It is a single monomer film before ethylene is added during polymerization. This material is used for more flexible forms of packaging, such as shrink film or stretch film. It can come in different densities as well:
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
- Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE)
PE shrink film is ideal for heavier and larger items such as beverage product cases, where this material will provide additional strength and durability compared to PVC or POF.
Printed Stock Shrink Film
Polyethylene shrink film can also be printed on, which makes it appealing to product manufacturers who wish to print directly on their retail product packaging. Branding and usage information or safety instructions can be printed straight onto the film.
Shrink Film at First Packaging Systems
To choose and stock the best shrink film for your specific packaging application, contact First Packaging Systems. We carry the highest quality shrink film materials and automated equipment like shrink tunnels from leading manufacturers. We can find the most effective and cost-efficient solutions based on your packaging needs—including custom-printed shrink film. We can also keep your packaging material stock readily supplied with whatever you need, when you need it.