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Stretch film: what it is, types of film, use cases & market factors

What is stretch film?

Pallet wrapper stretch film, also known as stretch wrap, is a type of plastic film used to secure and contain products during shipping and storage. It is typically wrapped around a pallet loaded with items, and the film’s stretchiness allows it to cling tightly to the pallet and its contents, preventing them from shifting or falling off. Stretch film is one of the most commonly used packaging materials and is widely used across a variety of industries.

The use of stretch film in pallet packaging emerged in the mid-20th century and has since become an essential tool in the material handling industry. It has replaced older, less efficient packaging methods such as shrink wrap, tape, and twine. Stretch film is considered to be a superior alternative to these methods due to its versatility, affordability, and ease of use.

What types of stretch film are used in the packaging industry?

There are two main types of stretch film: thinner gauged film and thicker gauged film. Thinner gauged film is typically used for light-duty packaging applications where items are not too heavy and do not require much protection. Thicker gauged film is used for heavier-duty applications where items are more likely to shift during transport or storage. Thicker gauged film provides more stability and protection, making it ideal for packaging heavy items such as furniture or machinery.

In addition to standard stretch film, there are also several specialty stretch films available in the market, including breathable stretch films for shipping produce, and banding films that form high strength “bands” around the pallet. Breathable stretch films allow air to circulate around perishable items such as fruits and vegetables, helping to maintain their freshness and extend their shelf life. Banding films, on the other hand, provide additional stability to pallets by forming strong bands around the load, essentially functioning as strapping and preserving the integrity of the pallet during transportation and storage. Banding films even preserve the integrity of partially opened pallets by preventing the zippering of stretch film.

What factors affect the price of stretch film?

Several factors affect the stretch film market, including changes in consumer demand, the cost of raw materials, and advances in technology. The increasing use of automation and robotics in the packaging industry is driving the development of new, more efficient stretch film technologies, which can result in higher production speeds and improved product quality. The cost of raw materials, such as petroleum, is also a significant factor, as it affects the overall cost of producing stretch film. Finally, shifts in consumer demand, such as the increasing focus on sustainable packaging, can influence the types of stretch film that are produced and sold in the market.

We take pride in providing the highest quality stretch films to our customers and can help you achieve film savings year to year. With our extensive knowledge of these machines and many years of experience in finding the perfect machine and film pairings for our customers – we can help you evaluate your current shortcomings in the realm of stretch and help you save money with equipment adjustments, retrofits and the RIGHT film – learn more!

Dan Hart
Equipment Specialist
Over 30 years of packaging experience. Started SWS Packaging in 2009 with my friend John.