How to Choose Between Hand Stretch Film and Machine Stretch Film

January 4, 2021 Written by Chris Amato

two movers wrapping cardboard boxes with roll of stretch film isolated on white

Stretch film is critical for wrapping products to secure them to each other and the pallet. Stretch wrapped loads are more secure during transportation. Stretch wrap provides containment for a variety of load shapes and sizes. When you’re shipping palletized products, stretch film is a necessity to avoid damage. There are two main categories of stretch wrap: hand stretch film and machine stretch film. If you’re not sure which one is right for your product, read on to learn the difference between the two and how to choose between hand stretch film and machine stretch film.

What is Hand Stretch Film?

Because hand stretch film is designed to be used by hand, rolls are shorter and lighter. Hand Stretch film is fitted on a dispenser so a person can wrap packages by hand.

What is Machine Stretch Film?

Machine stretch film is designed to be used in a stretch wrapping system. It typically comes in rolls that are longer and have a higher stretch rate than hand stretch film.

How to Choose Between Hand Stretch Film and Machine Stretch Film 

Both types of film have certain applications. If you don’t need to frequently wrap packages or if you’re only moving packages a short distance (e.g., across a warehouse), then hand stretch film can be an economical choice. Because hand stretch film has to be applied by a worker, it has limitations in its strength and durability.

However, machine stretch film can be a better option if:

  • You routinely need to stretch wrap pallets
  • You ship items regularly
  • You need a flexible solution, so you can swap out the type of stretch film
  • You need to wrap heavy packages and pallets

In those cases, machine stretch film is typically a better option. Because machine stretch film can be stretched at a higher rate, it can provide better load containment. Some machine stretch films have attributes that allow them to wrap around irregular loads and jagged edges without breaking. This ensures that palletized loads are more secure during transit and arrive without damage. Additionally, it’s often more effective per load to use machine stretch film over hand stretch film. Finally, using machine stretch film on a stretch wrapping system also improves safety by reducing injury of workers, making it possible to wrap more pallets in your ideal time frame (shift, day, hour).

Still not sure which type of stretch film is right for your product? PackEdge works closely with you to find the best packaging solution for your products. Together we will identify opportunities to save cost, reduce product damage and enhance your customer’s experience.

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PackEdge Corporation is a wholesale distributor of packaging systems and consumable products. We sell a variety of packaging equipment and products including stretch wrap, void fill, shrink film and more.

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