Centerfold Thermo Shrink Wrap FilmIf you’re shopping around for shrink film for your machine, you have probably come across two different times of film, PVC and Polyolefin (found here). Both of these film types are readily available and are used for packaging a variety of products. So which of these two types of film are best? Should you go with PVC or Polyolefin shrink film?

Before you decide on a film type, be aware that most shrink wrap machines (I-Bar and L-Bar) can use either type of thermo shrinkable film (film that shrinks with heat). That means if you would like to try both out and see which you prefer, you can try one out and then the other without having to buy a new machine. There are a few limitations you should be aware of.

Many shrink wrap machines have a diameter limitation based on the diameter of the centerfold shrink wrap film being used. Almost all shrink wrap machines can handle a PVC shrink film roll because the length is usually around 500 feet long. The Polyolefin film rolls range in length from 2,600 to 4,300 feet in length, making the diameter fairly large. Most I-bar sealers can handle any roll of centerfold Polyolefin film, but not all L-bar shrink wrap systems can.

Here are some of the pros and cons of both types of shrink wrap film.

Polyolefin Centerfold Thermo Shrink Wrap FilmPolyolefin Film (found here) – Polyolefin shrink wrap film has quickly become one of the most popular used today. A few years ago PVC was still king, but Polyolefin has risen to the top for many reasons. Here are just a few that you should be aware of:

  • Polyolefin film is more environmentally friendly than PVC and is easier to recycle.
  • Polyolefin is typically more durable than PVC film because it has more stretch and give.
  • This film is better than PVC for bundling multiple items together.
  • Unlike PVC film, Polyolefin doesn’t give off nearly as much odor or smoke during the shrink wrap process.
  • When you break it down per square foot of film, Polyolefin is actually less expensive. While the rolls cost more, you get a lot more film for the price.
  • It doesn’t gum up the cutting wire in shrink wrap machines as much as PVC.
  • It is safe for direct contact with food.
  • It is more difficult to puncture or tear Polyolefin film than PVC film.
  • Polyolefin film can be used to package just about anything from DVDs and music to fruit baskets and soap.
  • Doesn’t lose integrity or appearance with age.
  • Provides a professional appearance for retail display purposes.

PVC Film (found here) – PVC film used to be the most popular film used. It is still very popular today for packaging individual items for retail sale. Here are a few things you may like to know about PVC film:

  • Still a great method for packaging  items such as DVDs, CDs, boxes and software.
  • Very common and readily available.
  • Compatible with all heat tunnels and heat guns.
  • Can be used with any I-bar sealer or L-bar shrink system.
  • Easier for a customer to open up than Polyolefin film (this could be a plus or minus).

Both types of film are available in different thicknesses. In the United States this is known as the gauge. The higher the gauge number, the thicker the film. Film thicknesses usually range from 60 gauge up to 100 gauge. Outside the United States shrink film is measured in microns.

In conclusion, I have to say that my preference is Polyolefin film. I don’t consider PVC film to be bad, but I do consider Polyolefin to be better. The only downside is that Polyolefin film comes in larger diameters that may not be compatible with your system.

At Office Zone, we have years of experience with both shrink wrap machines and film. Please feel free to call us at 1-800-543-5454 with questions about film or machines. You can find our entire selection of film here and shrink wrap machines here.

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