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How To Choose The Right Stretch Film for Your Application

How to Choose The Right Stretch Film for Your Application

Stretch film is our peace of mind when we ship and store pallets from one place to another. It holds and protects products, which helps reduce injuries, minimize damage, and inventory loss. However, despite the beneficial purpose of having stretch film, no one wants to overspend on a product they do not need. Stretch film can vary by extrusion process, type, equipment, thickness, and additives, which is why it is essential for you to choose the right stretch film for your application.

To select the right stretch film for your application, you must know the basics of stretch film and consider the following:

  1. Load type
  2. The type of product you are shipping
  3. Application methods
  4. Cost

Load Type

One of the most important considerations in selecting the right stretch film is knowing your load type. There are 3 main types of loads (see image above)  that shipments are usually configured to:

pallet loads types

Type A: 

These loads are generally easier to wrap because they are uniform horizontally and vertically. The load footprint is almost the same size as the pallet deck. Usually, these loads have only a few edges that can puncture a stretch wrap.

Type B: 

This type of load is not uniform vertically and horizontally because the load pattern is irregular and may not be the same size as the pallet deck. Generally, these loads are more prone to puncture than “Type A loads.”

Type C:

Type C loads do not have uniform horizontal and vertical edge profiles. These loads are extremely irregular and may not have the same size as the pallet deck.

The Type of Product you are Shipping

Your product influences the type of stretch film you will select because it can impact the weight of the pallet and product requirements. 

The weight of the pallet is an important factor in determining what stretch film you will use. For example, if you are packaging lightweight products such as chips, candy, or paper towels, then you will have a light load that is 1,000 pounds or less. 

Light loads require less strength to hold items, which means you will only need a lower gauge stretch film. Medium loads (1,000 – 2000 pounds) and heavy loads (2,000 pounds or more) will require a much stronger stretch film. 

Ultimately, the weight of the pallet will impact the strength of the stretch film you will select. For example heavier loads will typically be wrapped in blown engineered film, while light loads will usually be wrapped in pre-stretched cast film.

stretch film

Special Product Requirements and Additives

Your product will determine which additives you will need for your stretch film. For example, if the product you are shipping can be damaged by UV, then you will need an additive that reflects or blocks it. Perhaps you may be packaging electronics, which means you will have to use an anti-static wrap to protect your product against electrostatic discharge.

Ultimately, you want to consider your product carefully as it can impact efficiency and protection of your loads

Colored Stretch Film
Stretch Film Hand Rolls

Application Methods

How you want to apply your stretch film to your pallet load will play a factor in selecting the right stretch film. This is because stretch film is usually applied by either hand or machine, each application will merit a different size and length of stretch film.

Hand stretch wrap is made for people to individually apply, which is why they are much lighter and shorter than machine rolls. Hand film can weigh between 5 to 9lbs with a length of 1,500 to 2,000 ft and width of 12 to 18 inches

Machine stretch wrap is made to be applied by a machine (semi-automatic or automatic) These rolls are much wider, heavier, and longer than hand rolls. They can weigh over 30 lbs. with a width 20 to 30 inches and range from 5,000 to 9,000 ft. in length.

Ultimately, you want to use the right stretch film based on how you are going to be applying it. 

Semi Automatic Stretch Film Machine and Wrap


Your budget plays a role in the type of stretch film you will be purchasing. As you can see there are a wide variety of stretch films based on their extrusion process, type, application methods, and additives. Each of those factors influences the price, in addition to the quantity needed. 

Ultimately, the most cost effective solution will vary based on your needs. However, the tradeoff between cost usually conflicts with stretch film’s strength. Partner with an experienced packaging professional to get the best advice and direction on acquiring the right stretch film.

Summary: Selecting The Right Stretch Film

Selecting the right stretch film can be quite challenging because there are so many different types of stretch film to choose from. Often, many buyers are having to make tradeoffs between saving on cost and properly securing their packages. 

To choose the right stretch film you need to have a good understanding of stretch films and the different types. Know what type of pallet load you have and the size, weight, and requirements of your product. In addition, you must consider how you are going to apply the stretch film to a load, whether it is by hand or machine. Lastly, you must know what you can afford and how much product you will need.

If you need any assistance with purchasing the right stretch film for your project, then contact Brown Packaging today to get started.

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