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Everything You Need to Know About:

Stretch Wrap

By: Brian Gertin

Stretch wrap, or stretch film, is a stretchable plastic film that is wrapped around items to keep them secure and firmly in-place. Stretch wrap is most often used on shipping pallets to keep boxes and/or products securely locked in-place during the shipping process, or while they are kept in storage. Despite the apparent simplicity of its purpose, there are many different types of stretch film available to buyers today, and it can sometimes be difficult to determine which is the best type for you and your products. This blog will examine different types of stretch wrap and offer scenarios in which each might be the best choice for you and your business.

First, there are two methods by which stretch wrap can be applied, and each method has its own kind of stretch wrap. Let’s talk about hand wrap vs. machine wrap.

Hand Wrap

As it may be apparent from the name, hand wrap refers to film that is designed to be applied manually, or by hand. You may also hear it referred to as: hand film, hand stretch wrap, hand stretch, or manual pallet wrap. Due to the manual and time-consuming nature of this type of wrapping, it is most effective when used in low-volume operations where the purchase of a machine applicator is unrealistic.

Machine Wrap

Conversely, machine wrap is film that is applied by a machine. While the machines themselves can be costly, there are many benefits to going this route with your stretch wrap. It is more efficient and safer for workers to apply than hand wrap and is ideal for higher volume operations that require consistent quality wrapping. In short, machine wrap offers faster and more time-efficient packaging, safer application, more secure loads, and – thanks to the machine’s more efficient use of material – reduced costs.

Once you’ve decided on hand or machine wrap, you now need to consider the type of stretch wrap you will use during application. The way in which the plastic film is created leads to differences in the film’s strength, stretch, transparency, and other qualities. With that in mind, let’s examine three of the most common types of stretch film:

stretch wrap blog

Blown Wrap

Named for the way it is produced, blown wrap is created through a process known as blown extrusion. In this process, the newly stretched film has air blown into it. The air is then allowed to slowly release, cooling the plastic. This results in a wrap that is highly durable and resistant to tears. Since its production is more involved and time consuming, blown wrap tends to be priced at a premium level. In addition, blown wrap is denser and has a strong stretch memory, which means it requires more effort to stretch.

Cast Wrap

The main difference in the production of blown and cast wrap is how each is cooled. As we discussed above, blown wrap cools slowly as the air is released from it. Cast wrap, on the other hand, is drawn out on lower-temperature rollers so it is cooled much more quickly during the extrusion process. The result is a more efficient and cost-effective production process, which translates to the consumer. However, while this type of stretch wrap is more popular in the market due to its cost, its lower density means it does not meet the quality standards of blown wrap in terms of holding power and tear-resistance, so is not suitable for the most heavy-duty of jobs.

Pre-Stretch Wrap

As the name suggests, pre-stretch wrap is a type of stretch wrap that has been pre-stretched at the factory and wound onto rolls before sale. This makes application easier and reduces worker effort, as the film itself is already stretch prior to application. Pre-stretch wrap is also highly efficient in terms of material-use; because each roll is pre-stretched, the user can get the maximum amount of material out of each roll.

stretch wrap blog

Wrapping Up

While all types of stretch film may appear to be similar in terms of cost-efficiency there are some differences. Some examples are tensile and tear strength, application time and quality of material. These differences are to be considered so that you select and use the most appropriate wrap for your jobs.

For a full overview of our stretch wrap material offerings, click here.

For more information on Gertex’s automatic and semi-automatic stretch wrapping machines click here.

Brian Gertin
Secretary Treasurer and Co-Founder