What is Stretch Film Used For?

January 27, 2021 Written by Chris Amato

warehouse with wrapped pallets

Keeping your shipments safe and secure during transit is one of the top concerns for most businesses. One of the most commonly-used products for this purpose is stretch film. But what is stretch film and what is it used for?

What is Stretch Film Used For?

Stretch film (or stretch wrap) is a thin, typically transparent, stretchable plastic material that is wrapped around a pallet load to secure it for shipping. There are specific solutions for pallet loads that contain bags, boxes, irregular shapes or for those that are very heavy or very light.  Stretch wrap prevents items from slipping or being damaged while they are transported across a warehouse, on a truck or via airplain/boat/train.

stretch wrap around an irregular load

Types of Stretch Film

Depending on what you are wrapping, there are a many stretch film attributes and additives that must be considered. Stretch wrap features like puncture resistance, UV additives, thickness, stretch, cling and load holding force can provide specific benefits. There are two primary methods used to apply stretch film or wrap; by hand or machine.

Hand Stretch Film

a roll of hand stretch wrap being applied to load

Hand Stretch film is a smaller sized roll, typically up to 18” wide. Hand film is often fitted on a dispenser to help a person wrap pallets by hand. The rolls are lighter and shorter than machine film. Hand film can be stretched but it is up to the user to apply the tension to stretch the film consistently.

Machine Stretch Film

A ROBOPAC stretch film machine

Machine length stretch film is designed to be used in a stretch wrapping system. As a standard, machine film comes in 20” rolls but is available in other widths. Machine film rolls are longer and have a higher stretch rate than hand stretch film, sometimes as much as 250%. The increased rate of stretch can lower stretch film usage and costs. Reaching higher pre-stretch rates will depend on the stretch wrap you are using, the stretch wrap machine and its settings. 

Opaque/Colored Stretch Film

The default for stretch film is to be transparent. Clear stretch film is often required for its clarity so barcodes can be scanned and product can be viewed without breaking the film.

rolls of colored stretch film

Opaque Stretch film is a common variation. This choice is popular because it can provide security to your shipment by making it tamper evident while hiding what is on the pallet. Opaque and colored film can provide short term protection from UV rays (UV additives are available for longer term film life) and allows shippers to color-code products.

Choosing the right stretch film depends on your products, expectations and stretch wrapper. PackEdge goes beyond shipping products and we will work closely with you to identify opportunities to lower costs and reduce product damage.

Check out our stretch film options – or contact us for a stretch film analysis.

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

photo credit: Pexels accessed 01/21 via Pexels License

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