VCI Paper vs VCI Film

VCI Paper vs VCI Film
Published On:October 3, 2022 Revised On:April 15, 2024

At its core, VCI technology involves using specific chemicals that, when released into the atmosphere, form a protective layer over metal surfaces, safeguarding them against rust and corrosion. These inhibitors evaporate and settle on metal objects, forming an invisible, molecular-level shield. This shield prevents the metal from directly contacting corrosive elements and actively combats potential environmental rusting agents.

Metals and metal components, whether parts of machinery, electronics, or simple consumer goods, are susceptible to damage from moisture, salts, and other corrosive agents present in the air, especially during transportation or prolonged storage. With the help of VCI packaging, industries can significantly extend the shelf life of these products and ensure that they reach their destination in pristine condition. It’s not just about preserving the appearance of the metal parts but also ensuring their functionality remains uncompromised.

What is VCI Paper?

VCI Paper, or Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor Paper, is infused with specific corrosion-inhibiting compounds. When this paper is near metal objects, it releases these compounds into the atmosphere, condensing to form a protective barrier over the metal surface. This barrier actively repels moisture and other corrosive agents, preventing rust and corrosion. Unlike conventional wrapping materials, VCI Paper is a physical barrier and offers active chemical protection to the goods it encases.

Composition and How It Works

The fundamental element of this VCI is its base, typically crafted from kraft paper. This paper is then treated or coated with a mixture of corrosion inhibitors. As they are volatile, these inhibitors can vaporize into the surrounding environment. Once they come in contact with metal surfaces, they condense and create a molecular layer that protects against corrosive elements.

The composition and the inhibitors’ nature vary based on the intended metal application. Some formulations target ferrous metals like iron and steel, while others are designed for non-ferrous metals like copper and aluminium. The layer formed is thin, invisible, and doesn’t need to be removed before the metal part is used or processed.

Common Applications and Uses

In essence, wherever there’s a need to protect metal parts or components during storage or transit, VCI Paper presents itself as a reliable solution. Given its protective properties, the packaging finds its application in many industries. Some of the prominent uses include:

  • Automotive Industry: Protecting spare parts, especially during transportation or storage in humid regions.
  • Electronics: Safeguarding components that have metallic parts from corrosion, which could impair functionality.
  • Machinery & Equipment: Wrapping machinery components to ensure longevity and maintain quality over time.
  • Metal Production: Packaging metal sheets, rods, and other forms to prevent tarnishing and corrosion before reaching the end user.
  • Military & Defense: Protecting weapons and other metal equipment from the detrimental effects of harsh environments.

What is VCI Film?

VCI Film, standing for Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor Film, is a specialized plastic film integrated with corrosion-inhibiting chemicals. When wrapped around or placed near metallic objects, this film releases these chemicals to form a protective molecular layer on the metal surfaces. Like its paper counterpart, the VCI Film is a barrier against physical contaminants and offers robust chemical defence against rust and corrosion.

Composition and How It Works

VCI Film predominantly consists of polyethene (PE) or other polymer bases imbued with a mix of volatile corrosion inhibitors. Metal parts are enveloped in a protective atmosphere when stored or packaged within this film. As the volatile inhibitors vaporize, they are attracted to the metal surfaces, binding with them to create an ultra-thin, protective shield. This shield guards the metal by interrupting the electrochemical corrosion process, making the environment less conducive to rust formation.

Different VCI formulations are used depending on the type of metal being protected. For ferrous, non-ferrous, or composite metals, specialized VCI Films ensure optimal protection. Importantly, the layer formed by the inhibitors is residue-free and doesn’t demand removal or cleaning before the metal is further processed or utilized.

Common Applications and Uses

VCI Film’s adaptability can be tailored into bags, stretch film, wrap, or sheets, making it a packaging solution for many corrosion prevention needs across industries. The film’s versatility and effectiveness make it a choice across multiple sectors. Notable applications include:

  • Industrial Packaging: For bulk packaging of metal parts, especially in the automotive and aerospace sectors, to guard against corrosion during shipment or storage.
  • Electronics & Components: Protecting delicate electronic assemblies with susceptible metal parts from environmental corrosives.
  • Metal Storage: Encasing large metal items, like coils, sheets, and bars, especially in industries like steel production.
  • Consumer Goods: Packaging of household items, tools, and appliances that have metal components, ensuring they reach consumers rust-free.
  • Marine & Offshore: For components exposed to salty marine environments, offering protection against aggressive salt-induced corrosion.

Comparison: VCI Paper vs. VCI Film

Here is a comparison graph to better understand their features, benefits, and potential limitations. This graphical representation distils the essence of each material, offering a side-by-side analysis across multiple parameters, from material composition and performance to environmental impact and cost implications.

Feature/Attribute VCI Paper VCI Film
Material and Composition
Raw materials used Kraft paper Polyethylene (PE) or other polymers
Additives and treatments Corrosion inhibitors Corrosion inhibitors
Performance & Effectiveness
Corrosion protection capabilities Effective for many metals Broad-spectrum protection for various metals
Duration of protection Moderate (depends on storage conditions) Longer-lasting due to plastic barrier
Usability & Application
Ease of use Simple, like using regular paper Flexible but might need sealing mechanisms
Versatility in packaging styles Sheets, wraps Bags, shrouds, covers, sheets
Preferred applications Automotive, Electronics, Metal Production Industrial packaging, Marine, Consumer Goods
Environmental Impact
Biodegradability and recyclability Biodegradable & recyclable Less biodegradable than paper
Carbon footprint comparison Generally lower due to paper base Potentially higher due to plastic production
Cost Implications
Initial costs vs. long-term benefits Typically less expensive initially Might be more costly, but it offers longer protection
Scale of production and its effect on the cost Economical for large-scale production Cost-effective at scale, but initial costs can be higher
Storage and Shelf Life
Recommendations for storing Dry, cool place Dry place, away from direct sunlight
Expected shelf life before use Varies, but typically years with proper storage Longer due to inherent barrier properties

Advantages and Disadvantages

Both VCI Paper and VCI Film have their unique set of advantages and limitations. The choice between them should be guided by the application’s specific requirements, budget considerations, and environmental concerns.

Benefits of VCI Paper:

  1. Environmentally Friendly: Often made from biodegradable and recyclable materials, making it a greener choice.
  2. Cost-Effective: Typically less expensive, especially for initial purchases.
  3. Versatility: Can be used for wrapping a wide variety of shapes and sizes due to its flexible nature.
  4. Easy to Handle: Using VCI paper is similar to regular wrapping paper, making it straightforward for packing operations.
  5. Adaptable Protection: Different formulations can target specific metals, offering tailored protection.

Limitations of VCI Paper:

  1. Durability: Generally less durable than VCI Film, especially in damp or rough handling conditions.
  2. Barrier Properties: While it offers corrosion protection, it might not be as effective a barrier against external contaminants as films.
  3. Limited Protection Duration: The protective period might be shorter than VCI Film, especially in challenging environments.

Benefits of VCI Film:

  1. Long-Lasting Protection: Typically offers a longer duration of corrosion protection due to its inherent barrier properties.
  2. Robust Barrier: Provides a strong barrier against moisture, dust, and other external contaminants.
  3. Versatile Formats: Can be manufactured in various formats like bags, sheets, and covers, allowing for diverse applications.
  4. Visible Inspection: Transparent films allow for the inspection of goods without unpacking.
  5. Broad-Spectrum Protection: Often formulated to protect various metals within a single application.

Limitations of VCI Film:

  1. Environmental Concerns: Being plastic-based might pose challenges regarding biodegradability and recycling.
  2. Cost: Generally more expensive initially compared to VCI Paper.
  3. Handling Complexity: This might require specific sealing methods or equipment for optimal use.
  4. Potential Residue: In some cases, certain films might leave a residue, though advancements have minimized this issue.


VCI Paper, with its environmentally-friendly nature, cost-effectiveness, and adaptability, provides a compelling option, especially for industries looking for a green and budget-friendly solution. On the other hand, VCI Film stands out for its extended protection duration, versatile applications, and ability to form a strong barrier against external contaminants.

Stream Peak is a leading provider of protective packaging and corrosion prevention. Our VCI range of solutions includes both VCI Paper and VCI Film, catering to various industry needs. Contact us to schedule an appointment with our packaging engineers for more information about volatile corrosion inhibitors.