Stretch Wrap vs Shrink Wrap
Published On:July 17, 2019 Revised On:January 11, 2023

Stretch Wrap vs Shrink Wrap

Stretch Film

Improper handling, environmental variables, and unexpected movements are all potential hazards for products in transportation. As a result, quality packaging solutions, such as Stretch Film, are recommended to avoid product damage, load tampering, and worker injuries. Pallet Stretch Wrap is an elastic-plastic packaging material made of linear low-density polyethylene used to keep products tightly tied to ensure goods safety during shipping and transportation. It’s widely used to keep boxes and pallets together, as well as ordinary commodities like food and paint containers, safe from water, moisture, dust, and other contaminants. Stretch Film is also available in different widths and thicknesses to suit a variety of applications.

Types of Stretch Film

There are two types and methods of applying Stretch Film to a load: by hand and by machine. In comparison, Hand Stretch Film rolls are lighter and shorter. Users will find it easier to handle them. Machine Stretch Film is designed to be used by machines.

  • Hand Wrap Stretch Film – Designed to be utilised manually and requires the user to apply it to the load and remove it while unloading. The amount of tension applied is determined by the user. It’s most commonly used in low-volume packaging applications.
  • Machine Wrap Stretch Film — Made to be used with a stretch film machine, which uses the machine’s operating parameters to apply the film to a load. The parameters assure that the packaging is always wrapped consistently. Commonly utilised in high-volume packing applications. The following are some examples of Machine Stretch Film:
    • Blown Stretch Film – is made using a blown extrusion process. The heated resins are blown into a bubble in this procedure and are then rolled and put into a core tube in sheets.
    • Cast Stretch Film – is made using the cast extrusion process, which entails feeding heated resins through a series of cooled rollers, solidifying the film.
    • Pre-Stretched Film – is a film that has been pre-stretched during the production process.

Benefits of Stretch Film

Stretch Films also bring about several advantages and benefits.

  • High-Quality Protection

Stretch Film can provide packaging protection as is waterproof and It protects products from moisture and other contaminants during shipping, transportation, and handling.

  • Cost-Effective

Investment in Stretch Wrapping equipment is less expensive than alternatives comparing to custom packaging.

  • High Load Retention

Industrial Stretch Film offers physical protection, including puncture resistance, especially for large or heavy volume requirements.

  • Increase Worker Productivity

Stretch Film reduces the potential for damage, keeps products bound, and assists in transportation.

  • Environmentally-Friendly

The linear low-density polyethylene material, made with a Stretch Film, can be categorised in recycling programs.

Applications of Stretch Film and When to Use Them

Stretch Films are versatile and can be used in various ways to suit different packaging requirements. Examples are unitising reels, wrap canned beverages, rocks, electronics, bind wood, and bundle picture frames from palletizing tires and boxes to covering buckets of paint and other liquids. They are commonly used to wrap pallets of products piled on pallets and are ready to ship. Stretch Film is designed primarily for palletising products while maintaining proper load containment.

Shrink Wrap

Shrink Wrap is a translucent plastic film that is used to protect materials or objects. The packaging film is then coiled around an object and heated to shrink it. After a product has been wrapped, users apply heat to shrink the film around it, resulting in a tight-fitting sealed package. Another typical method of using heat to Shrinkwrap is to pass the product through a heat tunnel on a conveyor. Shrink Wrap aids in the creation of airtight protection around the item. Shrinkwrap comes in various strengths, transparencies, and thicknesses, making it suited for a wide range of applications.

Type of Shrink Wraps

Three main types of Shrink Wrap are typically used as a packaging material – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polyethene (PE), and Polyolefin (POF). Each Shrink Wrap has slightly different characteristics, such as thicknesses, clarities, strengths, and shrink ratio, making these materials suitable for specific applications.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a commonly used Shrink Wrap due to its excellent resilience, lightweight, and inexpensive cost. However, PVC Shrink Wrap has several drawbacks, and the most are health risks associated with the material’s manufacture and heating, as PVC emits strong, toxic odors during these operations. PVC Shrink Wrap is recommended for use in well-ventilated facilities.

Polyethene (PE)

PE, Polyolefin, is commonly used for Shrink Wrapping in several different forms, including Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE), and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). Due to its high excellent strength and durability, PE Shrink Wrap is frequently used for protective packaging. The main drawbacks of this film are its lower cost, lower shrink rate, and inferior clarity compared to other varieties.

Polyolefin (POF)

POF, or Polyolefin, is a common type of Shrink Wrap growing globally because of its robustness and versatility. Compared to other kinds of Shrink Wraps, it has a higher level of durability and clarity. The POF Shrink Wrap is an ideal alternative for ecologically aware customers as its packaging is constructed entirely of recyclable materials. It demonstrates quality results in the shrink rate as well. The only downside of POF is the higher cost compared to other kinds of Shrink Wrap.

Applications of Shrink Wrap and When to Use Them

Shrink Wraps can be used in various applications, and here are some:


Shrink Wraps are most prevalent in packaging industries for the following purposes.

  • Keeping beverages and canned food items unitized
  • Securing boxes
  • Providing tamper-evident and extra secure seals
  • Wrapping an entire pallet load to keep goods protected and protected from damage

It is also a common packaging material in the manufacturing sector, including electronic products and food products such as vegetables, meats, and cheeses.

Other Applications

Shrink Wraps also help protect large machinery. An example would be the marine shrink wrap, which can be wrapped over watercraft and boats to protect them from the elements, such as the weather. If a dangerous chemical leak prevents others from being exposed, shrink wraps can be used to quarantine an entire facility. It is removed once the danger is over. Shrink film also has a glossy look which is commonly used as a food packaging film for display on store shelves.

Benefits of Shrink Wrap

Just like the Stretch Wrap, Shrink Wraps also offers many advantages, and here are some.


Shrink Wraps are a highly affordable and cost-effective packaging material compared to other available options in the market. It minimises space usage and keeps items bundled together without using bulky packaging material, allowing users to save on storage and transport costs.


The main advantage of Shrink Wraps is that it is versatile; the packaging can be used on many types of products regardless of their size. It can cover small wires, candies, and hardware components to boats and freight trailers. By utilizing Shrink Wraps, there will not be any inconvenience in looking for a specific packaging solution that suits your application needs.


Shrink Wraps are very durable and sturdy, and it takes much strength to puncture or tear them. Unlike other packaging materials, Shrink Wrap does not weaken or become brittle under extreme hot or cold environmental conditions.


Heat-applied Shrink Wraps provide a tight seal that fully protects the item. Once sealed, the package is not vulnerable to any external damage such as dirt, dust, or moisture. Some Shrink Wraps even provide UV protection, keeping your products safe from harmful sun rays.

What’s the Difference?

Many of us are unsure of the differences between a Stretch Wrap and a Shrink Wrap. How then will we know which type of packaging material is suitable for our product? Therefore, it is vital to know the difference between different wraps and their advantages and disadvantages to ensure that you can purchase the correct type of wrapping for your chosen product choice.

In this article, we are going to be comparing the differences between Shrink Wrap and Stretch Wrap. We are also going to share how each product is utilised.


Characteristics Stretch Wrap Shrink Wrap
Heat required No Yes
High stretch rate in excess of 100% Yes No
Used to wrap pallets Yes Rarely
Used to wrap retail products Rarely Yes
Used to wrap industrial products Yes Occasionally
Clarity Good Excellent
Safe for direct food contact No Polyolefin Shrink Wrap (a type of wrap)
Most common thickness 80 Gauge 75 Gauge


We hope you understand more about the different types of wraps available out there and how they can help us! Different films have different capabilities and benefits; therefore, one should take extra precautions when choosing the necessary protection for their products to minimise losses. You can protect your products adequately through packaging indicators. The packaging indicators will help you to monitor your cargo’s temperature and humidity levels.

Happy packaging, and if you have any further inquiries, don’t hesitate to send us an email!