Nathan Dube

By: Nathan Dube on May 5th, 2020

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Shrink Film Is Not Right For Everyone

Packaging Materials | The Business of Packaging | Investment

While shrink film is one of the most common packaging materials in the world, it is not always a good fit for specific products. Trying to force it to work in certain applications can lead to various problems headaches, and sometimes, safety issues.



After decades in the industry, we here at Industrial Packaging know which applications are and are not correct for shrink film. In the article below, we will review several applications where shrink film is NOT a good fit.



Shrink film is one of our highest grossing products, but we’re not trying to sell any of our products to customers who don’t need them. By learning more about the problems with shrink film, or when you shouldn’t use it, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision about what packaging products are right for you.



In the article below, we will review several issues that would make shrink film a bad fit for certain applications.



Shrink Film Is Not Good For Interactive Products



Shrink film is not a good fit in applications where a product has a physical demonstration available for shoppers to use. For example, toy instruments often have a "try me" or "push me" tab allowing for people to press a button or lever that results in music playing, lights flashing, etc.



For these types of products that invite the consumer to "try me," shrink film is not the right choice as it is used to contain a product entirely and thus would result in problems when people go to use the "try me" tab on the product.



The main problem would be the "try me" element being forced out of reach to the consumer. Shrink film would prevent them from being able to push a button, tab or other interactive element on the product.





Alternatives to shrink film for this type of application may include wafer seals and clam-shells, the latter of which can be custom formed to allow for the interactivity of a product as mentioned above.



Wafer seals are small circular adhesive stickers that can be used to seal cardboard boxes and other containers without covering the entire container or product like shrink film does.



Need Help Deciding If Shrink Film Is Right For You?

Show Me The Complete Guide To Shrink Film!


Shrink Film Does Not Breath Well



For products that need regular exposure to air or oxygen, shrink film is not a good choice. The breath-ability of shrink film is very poor unless you purchase specialty films with perforations, which of course, cost more than regular films. When packaging products that must have breath-ability, it is ill-advised to use shrink film. Examples would include certain types of perishable foods and other organic matter that requires oxygen to stay fresh.



Shrink Film Can Be Costly



While small shrink film operations using tabletop equipment and heat guns can be affordable, large scale operations require expensive equipment and large quantities of material that can be very costly. In this respect, shrink film may not be a good fit for smaller operations.



With a professional level heat tunnel starting around $22,000, packaging with shrink film at a professional level can be very expensive. That being said, there are much smaller entry-level heat tunnels starting around $2,000.



rolls of shrink film standing up with white backround


In addition to the high cost of equipment, shrink film itself, notably printed shrink film, is a costly material when running high volumes of film. A cheaper alternative to printed shrink film could be cardboard. However, cardboard and other popular shrink film alternatives have significantly higher carbon footprints.



That being said, most larger companies purchase many films and get much better pricing. While they buy a significant amount, which adds up to high costs, their "per package" price is less.



Shrink Film Might Not Be Good For Heat Sensitive Products



If you are unsure whether you should run your products through a heat tunnel or not, you can figure this out by using heat-sensitive tapes and running them through the heat tunnel before running your products. The tapes are put on a test product and run through the heat tunnel.



These tapes will alert you to whether or not your products are appropriate for packaging with shrink film based on how they react to the heat setting used.



It is highly recommended you reach out to your local packaging company. and have them run these tapes for you and provide advice and assistance when it comes to identifying which products should and should not be sent through a heat tunnel.



Shrink Film Has Alternatives



Shrink film is a versatile material that has packaged billions of products worldwide. That being said, shrink film is not the right packaging material for all products.



Heat sensitive items or products that require a certain amount of exposure for consumer interaction are not meant for packaging in a heat tunnel. And while many products can be packaged with this type of film, it is not a universal packaging material for all kinds of products.



When trying to figure out if you should package a product with shrink film, it would be wise to get an analysis of your packaging line, materials, and machinery done by a local packaging expert. Armed with this information, you will be able to decide if shrink film is an appropriate packaging material for your products or not.



With years upon years of hands-on experience, we here at Industrial Packaging are capable of helping you to choose the right materials and vendor, even if that vendor is not us.



When running shrink film on your packaging line, it is essential to check the temperature limitations of your products before running them through a heat tunnel. Failing to do so may result in significant safety hazards, costly downtime, and many other unwanted headaches.



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About Nathan Dube

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.