Stretch Film: An Essential Packaging Tool for Secure Transport
Stretch film, or stretch wrap, is essential for transporting packages safely. It is a packaging material created to protect products from damage and from the elements during transit. Stretch film is highly elastic and has a strong stretch memory, meaning that once stretched the film will want to go back to its original size. Because of this quality, it keeps packaged goods tightly secured for extended periods of time. It is durable and flexible, making it the perfect solution for safe product transportation.
Stretch film is used for pallet wrapping products for transport. It is made up of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), which is a sturdy plastic that has a firm cling and is recyclable. This plastic wrap secures products to each other as well as to a pallet, allowing multiple products to be transported as a single unit with ease. Stretch film helps reduce product loss or damage by preventing packaging from moving around or falling during transportation.
Stretch film also discourages pallet load tampering or pilferage. Stretch film reduces worker injury by minimizing the likelihood of packaging falling or shifting into difficult to reach areas. By bundling packages on pallets using stretch film, workers can efficiently move more products in less time.
Stretch film is very beneficial in the packaging industry as it helps protect products during transit. Stretch film prevents packaging from sliding around while being handled and it serves as protection from damage or loss. It also protects packaging from the elements including dust, dirt, moisture, and in some cases UV rays.
The protection that stretch film offers limits any potential decrease in product value that could come from damage. It makes organizing and shipping products easy, whether that be internal organization in your warehouse or shipping products nationwide. Packaging film protects your product.
Another benefit to stretch film is its sustainability factor. Stretch film is 100% recyclable. While the stretch film is often wasted, when used and disposed of correctly, it can save money and contribute to a greener planet.
Stretch film’s versatility is one of the reasons for its popularity with packaging materials. There are many different types of stretch film to fit your brand’s individual needs and different pieces of equipment for the level of your operation.
You can apply this specialty film either by hand or using a stretch wrap machine. So, if you run a smaller operation that does not wrap more than 50 pallets per day, there are stretch film solutions for you such as manual wrapping. If you hand wrap, you'll typically use thinner yet durable stretch wrap.
On the other hand, if you’re running a much larger operation, automatic or semi-automatic stretch wrapper equipment is your best option. There are many different types of machine stretch film and hand film to choose from that cater to your specific business and operational needs.
There are three common types of stretch film equipment that businesses use to wrap their products. The type of equipment you use will depend on your stretch wrap level. Levels of stretch wrap describe the stretch wrap application method: manual, semi-automatic, and automatic.
Manual refers to the application of stretch wrap by hand. This can be slow and time consuming but it is a beneficial method for smaller package loads, specifically if you hand wrap less than 50 pallets per day.
The semi-automatic level uses both automated equipment and manual labor. A machine applies stretch wrap mechanically but someone is needed to manually move and prepare loads.
The automatic level is solely automated where loads are automatically prepared, wrapped, and loaded.
Based on your method of application, here are three types of stretch wrap equipment to use:
1 - Turntable Stretch Wrapping: This involves a turntable where the load rotates as film is applied. The consistent turning allows for even coverage across all sides of the pallet. Usually, the pallet is wrapped from bottom to top and then back down to the bottom again for added security.
2 - Rotary Arm Stretch Wrapping: This equipment uses a stretch film carriage that rotates horizontally around the stagnant load. Also known as a straddle wrapper, this equipment is perfect for fragile, unstable, or heavy loads.
3 - Orbital Stretch Wrapping: Also known as ringer stretch wrapping, this equipment uses a stretch film carriage that rotates vertically around a fixed load while a pallet passes through horizontally. This is a great option for flat or wide loads as it makes wrapping the undersides easier.
Choosing Stretch Film
Stretch film is essential for product transportation and storage. There are many different types of stretch film to choose from and many different application methods. When you are choosing the type of stretch film to use for your packaging, take into consideration your load’s profile. Below are the three load profiles:
A. The A load profile includes no protruding objects, forms a basic square shape, and is very stable. With clean edges this type of load is the easiest to wrap. This load profile does not require a super thick gauge.
B. The B load profile has protruding objects of 2 inches or less and is semi-stable. Because this load has protruding objects, a sturdy and thicker gauge is needed to secure your products. Choose an option with a high tear and puncture resistance to ensure sharp corners do not puncture the stretch wrap.
C. The C load profile has protruding objects of 2 inches or more and is unstable to semi-unstable. Given the unstable properties of this load profile, a gauge is needed to protect from tears or punctures. This load profile is the most hazardous as there are many unusual shapes and corners that protrude. A high performance film is needed for this type of load.
The size, shape, and weight of your load will determine what type of stretch film to use during transit and/or storage. Group O can help your business determine the right stretch film for your business
Types of Stretch Film
Stretch film is essential for palletized products in transport. It keeps products safe, secure, and dry. It also reduces workplace injuries caused by shifting heavy objects and discourages product tampering. There are many different types of stretch wrap that are designed to fit your operation’s specific needs. Below is a break down of ten types of stretch film that are commonly used:
1 - Blown Stretch Film: Blown stretch film has a strong cling and is more puncture resistant than cast films. It is made using the blown extrusion process where the wrap is fed through a cylindrical tube and then blown up like a balloon. Blown film has a high load and stretch capacity but poor clarity compared to cast stretch film. It is ideal for wrapping A, B, and C load profiles as it is versatile and sturdy.
2 - Cast Stretch Film: Cast stretch film has a high level of clarity making pallets easy to identify and scan for end users. Cast film stretches easily to fit over packages and may utilize double-sided cling for further protection during transportation. While cast stretch wrap is easy to stretch and clings well, it is not as strong as blown stretch wrap and is more susceptible to tearing but is typically less expensive than blown stretch wrap.
3 - Pre-Stretch Film: As the name suggests, pre-stretch film is stretched to capacity before being wrapped onto a stretch film roll. This stretch film uses less material and can be very cost effective.
4 - Hand Stretch Film: This type of film is created for the sole purpose of hand wrapping. This is great for businesses who wrap a small amount of pallets daily (usually 50 pallets or less).
5 - Color Stretch Film: Color stretch films were created for easy organization and color coding in warehouses. The specialty stretch film comes in a variety of colors.
6 - Opaque Stretch Film: Opaque stretch film is not see-through and offers additional security by concealing the contents of the pallet. This film may also have an additive that protects from UV rays and keeps products safe from the elements.
7 - VCI Stretch Film: Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor stretch film (VCI) protects products from corrosive substances like rust because it keeps moisture and other harmful elements out. This is ideal for metal pipes or other metal products.
8 - UVI Stretch Film: Ultraviolet Inhibitor stretch film (UVI) protects against harmful UV rays. This is ideal for pallets stored outside and in direct sunlight. UVI stretch film is designed to withstand UV rays so it will not lose any of its strength or cling power outside over a predetermined (6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc.) amount of time.
9 - Vented Pallet Wrap Stretch Film: This is a film with die cut holes for ventilation. The ventilation allows condensation to leave the pallets, reduces spoilage, is more flexible, and will not obstruct forklift wheels.
10 - No Cling Stretch Wrap: As the name implies, this stretch film is not clingy. Ideal for products like carpeting so that the products can be moved easily without sticking to each other.
Stretch Film Frequently Asked Questions
With so many different types of stretch film available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Group O can help your business assess your needs to determine which type of stretch film is right for you. Below are common questions and answers about stretch film:
When should I use stretch film?
Stretch film should be used when transporting packages on pallets. It helps secure the load to the pallet so it can be transported easily as one unit. It can also be used to protect products from the elements in storage.
How will I know what type of stretch film to use?
Many factors come in to play when determining The type of stretch film you use. Some considerations are the product being wrapped, the application and your load profile. Consider the load weight and shape to determine the gauge, or thickness of stretch film, that needs to be used for each load. Also take into consideration how many pallets you will be wrapping per day. If it is less than 50 pallets, consider using stretch film that is manually applied.
What is pre-stretch film?
Pre-stretch film is a common type of stretch film that is stretched almost to a breaking point before going on the roll to be applied to palletized packages.
Why should I use pre-stretch film?
Pre-stretch film uses less material which is cost effective and more sustainable. This stretch film is stronger and more durable as it has a strong stretch memory, meaning the film wants to return to its original size. This creates a firm hold on the packages and is an effective method for securing packages during transit.
What is film feed?
Film feed refers to the speed at which the stretch film is applied to a pallet. This speed will change depending on the load profile and amount of tension needed.
What is film force?
Film force is the amount of tension applied to the film as the film is applied to the load. Think of it as a rubber band.
Why is film force important?
Film force is necessary because it creates a strong stretch memory in the film. The more film force there is - the higher the tension - the more secure packages will be on their pallets.
How do I create film force?
Film force is created by forming tension between the film carriage and the load. This can be done either electrically or mechanically. Electrically, the film can be slowed down when it comes out of the carriage, causing the film to stretch between the load and the carriage. Mechanically, you can reduce the film speed by pausing the arm of the machine to increase the force of the film.
What is force to load?
Force to load is a measure of how tight the film is being pulled as it exits the roll carriage and is applied to the load.
How do I measure stretch film thickness?
Stretch film thickness is measured in gauges. One gauge is equal to .254 microns which is another unit of measurement for stretch films.
Is stretch film sustainable?
Stretch film is 100% recyclable at recycling facilities that accept soft plastics. It is a sustainable packaging material that can be recycled. Stretch film replaces tape in many cases which also reduces the amount of plastic waste. However, because it is petroleum based it can not be composted and does not biodegrade.
Find the Right Stretch Film to Meet Your Needs
With so many different types of stretch film available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Group O can help your business assess your needs to determine which type of stretch film is right for you. For more information call 866-476-8761