What is shrink wrap?
Shrink wrap is a type of clear plastic that is used as retail packaging for a variety of products. You will find shrink wrap used with DVDs, software packaging, basket packaging and even food packaging. Shrink wrap helps to protect the object, make it tamper proof and can also be used to bundle several products together. The machines that disperse and package shrink film come in a variety of designs. While shrink wrap may look like it needs to be done in a factory, anyone can use it to package products. An I-bar sealer can cost as little as just over $100.
How does shrink wrap work?
You first insert your product into a shrink bag or into centerfold shrink film. You then use a sealing bar (either I-bar or L-bar) to seal the open ends of the film pocket shut. Once encapsulated, heat is applied to the bag. The heat, when applied to the shrink film, causes it to contract tightly around the object. The end results look very professional.
What are the different types of shrink wrap machines?
- I-Bar Sealers - I bar sealers use a single straight sealing bar to cut through shrink wrap film. They usually include a heat gun for completing the shrink wrap process. I-bar sealers can be used with shrink bags as well as centerfold rolls of shrink film. They almost always include film dispersal rollers for use with centerfold shrink film. You can buy them in different lengths depending on the width of the shrink film roll you are using.
- Shrink Wrap Systems - Shrink wrap systems usually consists of a commercial-grade L-bar sealer and some sort of integrated or separate heat tunnel. They are designed for mass packaging throughout the day. Sizes of the machines vary depending on output. These are the most popular shrink wrap machines we offer for packaging hundreds to thousands of items per day.
- L-Bar Sealers - Independent L-bar sealers are used to wrap products in plastic. This may include art prints without shrinking the film or products for retail sale. Our stand-alone L-bar sealers are sold without a heat gun or tunnel, although one may be purchased separately.
- Heat Sealers - Heat sealers, often called impulse bag sealers, are designed to quickly package a product in a plastic bag. While many can be used with shrink film, they are not technically a shrink wrap machine. People will use heat sealers for sealing medical supplies in a bag, food in a bag and much more.
- Shrink Tunnels - Shrink tunnels are designed to quickly and evenly shrink film around a product. The apply heat from all angles including sides, top and bottom. They are typically used along side an L-bar sealer and are excellent for commercial shrink wrap projects. Most tunnels can be used with PVC or Polyolefin film.
What are the different types of shrink film?
- Centerfold - Centerfold film is a roll of shrink film that has been folded over once and then rolled up. This is the most common type of film used with I-bar sealers and shrink wrap systems. Rolls very in length from a few hundred to a few thousand feet.
- Gauge - The gauge of the film is the thickness of the film. The higher the gauge, the thicker the film. Shrink film usually ranges from 60 gauge up to 110 gauge.
- PVC - This is a type of plastic used in shrink film and is currently the most common (and affordable) used today. It has a crinkly feel to it and is harder than its Polyolefin counterpart. PVC film can be used to package any non-food items. It is not approved for direct contact with food.
- Polyolefin - Polyolefin film is stretchier and more pliable than PVC film. It is food grad and can be used in direct contact with food. This type of film used to be much more expensive than PVC, but is now comparable in price. This film is gaining in popularity due in part to its feel and also because it is less likely to accidentally break open.
- Square Bags - Square shrink bags are pre-formed bags with a single open end. Products can be inserted inside and the open end can be sealed. The bag can then be left as-is or be shrunk using a heat gun or heat tunnel. Shrink bags come in a variety of sizes and gauge thicknesses.
- Domed Bags - Domed shrink bags have a rounded end on one side and an open end on the other. These types of bags are popular for use with baskets and other items with a rounded surface.
Questions to ask prior to purchasing a shrink wrap machine:
- What are you packaging? Measure the item you are packaging and make sure the shrink wrap machine's dimensions are compatible. Many people forget to take the height of the product they are packaging into account when looking at a shrink wrap machine specifications.
- How many products do you need to package per day? If you are only packaging a few dozen to a hundred items a day, you are probably going to be fine with an I-bar sealer. If you are packaging hundreds to thousands of items a day, you will definitely want to use a shrink wrap system with a heat tunnel.
- Where will you be using the machine? If you are using the machine indoors, you will want to be sure you have ample room available. I-bar sealers typically just need a table or desk for operation, but shrink wrap systems usually need a good amount of floor space available. If you are using PVC film, you will want to be sure there is proper ventilation in the room as PVC can produce smoke and fumes that can be a little strong if the room is too small or poorly ventilated.
What are the best shrink wrap machine brands?
It really depends on the type of system you are using. As far as I-bar sealers go, AIE
are some of the best machines you can buy. When it comes to shrink wrap systems, you can't go wrong with Minipack
or Truline. When it comes to heat sealers, AIE, Traco and SealersSales are the best you can buy. If you need help finding a good quality brand for the application you are working with, please call us and speak with one of our Shrink Wrap Specialists at 1-800-543-5454.