Stretch Film 101

stretch film
Workers unloading rolls of stretch film

Using stretch film to wrap your pallets is the most popular packaging method. Stretch filmoffers protection from weather and debris and is cost effective, recyclable, and adaptable to almost any load. Previously we have discussed the simple differences between stretch film and shrink wrap, but there is more than meets the eye to this highly stretchable plastic film. As mentioned before, stretch film is used to tightly wrap products as one on pallets for shipment or storage. We will be discussing three very common types of this film along with how to successfully secure and wrap a pallet.

The first and most cost effective stretch film is cast film. It is manufactured using a cast extrusion process; the thermoplastic material is melted and extruded through a flat die onto a chill roll, where it is quenched and re-solidified. Cast stretch film offers excellent clarity, reduces the force required to stretch, and increases tear resistance. Great advantages of this film are its low cost and superior cling (the double-sided cling provides additional security). However, it does not offer the load or holding power of other films nor the same amount of memory. The bottom line: if you’re looking for a low-cost stretch film that still ensures security and keeps your items tightly bound, cast film is the perfect fit.

Next is blown stretch film, which is manufactured using a blown extrusion process. Plastic melt is extruded through an annular slit die (usually vertically) to form a thin-walled tube. Air is then added via a hole in the center to blow up like a balloon while and air ring blows onto the film to cool it. Blown stretch film offers many benefits cast film does not. It is a higher quality film and it is equipped with a higher load capacity, stretch capacity, and degree of memory. Due to all its perks, the cost of blown stretch film is higher than other films. This film does have poor clarity due to crystallization in the manufacturing process.

stretch film
Blown stretch film in the manufacturing process

The third film we will compare is opaque stretch film. This is more of a specialty film used with valuable shipments to detour pilferage by completely masking the products. Since it offers a sturdier security shield, it helps protect packages from UV rays and prevents potential rain, dew, and dust damage. Opaque stretch film is available in a variety of colors and outlasts regular clear film during extended outdoor storage. Whether you need to protect expensive shipments or color-code a number of packages, opaque stretch film will do the job.

Once you’ve decided on which stretch film you will need, it is imperative to know how to secure the items on the pallet properly. Follow these steps and you will have a beautifully wrapped pallet so tight your packages won’t even dream of escaping!

1. Cut about 1 yard off the roll and squeeze 8-10” of the end together to form a rope.

2. Thread the rope through one corner of the pallet.

3. Begin around the base, wrapping the stretch film around approximately 5 times while keeping the film tight.

4. Slowly work your way up the box, focusing on keeping the wrap snug.

5. Once you have reached the top, push the top boxes to see if they move. If they shift at all, wrap your way down to the bottom of the pallet.

6. If your package does not move at all, you have successfully wrapped your pallet and do not have to worry about your shipment shifting in transit!