When looking at shipments that arrive, shipments that are waiting to go or freight that is sitting on your manufacturing floor, you will see it wrapped in different types of translucent plastic. All plastic wraps are not created equal. The two main types that you will encounter are stretch wrap or shrink wrap. They may look similar, but there are some very distinct differences between them. Here are the differences between shrink wrap and stretch wrap and when it is appropriate to use one or the other.
Shrink wrap is a type of plastic protection that goes over a wide range of shipments. The wrapping is applied loosely, then heat is applied to the plastic. The heat causes the wrapping to shrink down around what it is covering conforming to the unique shape of the package.
Shrink Wrap has many uses. First, it is a good way to protect items from the elements. The barrier formed by shrink wrap keeps out dust, dirt and moisture. This is great for shipments that might be exposed to the elements or have particular sensitivity to moisture.
Shrink wrap, while forming a protective barrier, can also be used to hold pallets of boxes or other loose material together. It means that using things like straps or tie downs on a pallet are less necessary (depending on the shipment) because the shrink wrap will hold everything in place.
If you are thinking of using shrink wrap, remember that the barrier is air tight. That means the items, if they have any moisture or are prone to moisture damage, will not be able to air out. However, if you know this ahead of time, you can always prepare your shipment by having ventilation holes put into the shrink wrap in order to provide air circulation.
Also, remember that some amount of heat is going to be applied to get the shrink wrap to the proper size. If your shipment is very sensitive to heat, you may not be able to use shrink wrap.
Think of stretch wrap as an industrial sized cling wrap. It is a stretchable polyethylene plastic film that wraps around your shipment. When you pull on it, the film stretches instead of breaking, much like elastic. That makes it useful in holding together pallets of boxes or other loose items. It is also much more affordable than other types of pallet wrappings you might use to hold your shipment together.
Stretch wrap is available in a wide variety of types, including specialty films that are static proof or protect against UV rays. Stretch wrap also provides some protection against dirt and elements, but not as much as shrink wrap does.
Shrink wrap is very versatile and can be used for many different applications. Machines that apply shrink wrap can automate the process as well.
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