Compared to industrial shrink wrap (essentially thicker gauge polyethylene film used for outer packaging), retail display shrink film is available in 3 different types of films.
Because retail display shrink films are used for overpackaging or combining products that are placed on retail shelves for consumers to select and purchase, they require excellent optical performance, excellent sealing and shrinkage, and a reasonable cost per package.
There are three types of films on the market, PVC, polyethylene and polyolefin.
PVC or polyvinyl chloride was arguably the first film available in the retail industry. It can be made biaxially oriented, meaning it shrinks with equal percentage shrinkage in the machine and horizontal directions, or it can be made uniaxially shrunk, shrinking primarily in the machine direction. It has excellent optical properties with High transparency and high gloss, and the use of relatively low temperature, easy to seal and shrink characteristics. It also exhibits variable low contractility properties. It also comes in a variety of sizes, from extremely thin to relatively thick.
The ability of PVC to be oriented in either bidirectional or unidirectional directions enables it to be used in a very broad base of applications. Its low temperature properties are undoubtedly an important benefit for packaging temperature-sensitive items, and its low shrink force is preferred when packaging flexible products such as sponges or booklets to prevent them from warping.
However, PVC has some very critical disadvantages. Ironically, its main problem is its main attribute. Because it seals and shrinks at low temperatures, it is unstable in storage. If a dealer or user stocks PVC shrink film in the wrong environment, the film will automatically shrink unilaterally in storage. In addition, PVC shrink film requires specially equipped packaging machinery to seal properly. In addition, many European and multinational manufacturers have banned the use of PVC films for ecological reasons.
As a result, PVC shrink film is an increasingly limited-use film with limited supplier availability.
Polyethylene retail display shrink films are only available as unidirectionally oriented films with the primary shrink force in the machine direction. It does not have special optical properties, nor does it have extremely thin specifications. It is FDA and USDA approved for food and pharmaceutical applications and is easy to recycle.
Its main benefit is its relatively low cost. Historically, polyethylene film has been the cheapest packaging material. However, due to its limited optical advantages, it is primarily used as an industrial shrink film rather than a retail display shrink film, which requires extreme clarity and gloss. Additionally, its lack of biaxial orientation limits its use in certain packages. Its very soft modulus makes it unusable for very thin gauges on high speed equipment. However, it is available from hundreds of film manufacturers and suppliers.
Therefore, polyethylene retail display shrink films are only used where cost is the most important factor and where optical performance and processability are not critical.
Polyolefin shrink film is the largest segment of the retail display market. They are manufactured by a very limited number of manufacturers worldwide and sold by a limited number of distributors.
Polyolefin shrink films are only available as biaxially oriented films in thicknesses ranging from .00035" to .003". They are very clear and shiny, and are easy to process on a variety of high-speed packaging machines. They are available as inserts from stock or as SWS for custom conversions.
They are stable and relatively durable in stock storage and are FDA and USDA approved. Also, they are eco-friendly as they are recyclable.
They are used in a very wide range of applications, from packaging pizza, to packaging toys and books, to combining soap and shampoo, to combining hardware items, and more.
I feel that polyolefin shrink films are the choice for retail display shrink wrap because they are versatile, pack well at very thin gauges and at very high speeds, they are extremely high quality, and they are affordable and stable.
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