The Basics of Stretch Film

Stretch Film

Stretch film is the plastic material you always see around pallets inside a warehouse or a retail store. It is used around the world by every type of business in order to properly ship, store, and protect merchandise on a pallet. Not all stretch film is created equally, there are many different types of film to use based on what you’re wrapping. 

What You Need To Know About Stretch Film

To help you get a better understanding of stretch film, we are going to walk you through the basics of stretch film. By knowing the basics of stretch film you can make more informed decisions on purchasing the right stretch film to maximize your results while minimizing costs.

  1. Extrusion process
    • Cast stretch film
    • Blown stretch film
  2. Type
    • Conventional
    • Engineered
    • Pre-stretched
  3. Application method
    • Hand rolls
    • Machine rolls
  4. Thickness
  5. Additives
Stretch Wrap

Extrusion Process

An extrusion process is the heating or compression of a resin in order to develop the needed viscosity, once completed the resin is formed into a layer of plastic. From this process, the stretch film can either be cast film or blown film.

Cast Stretch Film

Cast stretch film is manufactured through a cast extrusion process. This film is created by a heated sheet of resin that is pushed through a flat die and out onto chilled rollers to solidify the material.

Advantages of Cast Stretch Film:
  • Good for securing pallet loads with smooth and straight edges (A and B loads).
  • Transparent finish that makes it easier to see merchandise, product information, directions, and barcodes.
  • Low noise when wrapping the pallets.
  • Self-adhering properties.
  • Available in single or double side cling (sticky). 
  • Medium puncture resistance.
  • Easy to apply.
  • Cheaper alternative compared to blown film.
Disadvantages of Cast Stretch Film
  • Not as strong as blown film in holding merchandise.
  • Less memory and more prone to tear than blown film.
Cast Stretch Film With Semi Automatic Machine

Blown Stretch Film

Blown stretch film is made with the blown extrusion process where extruding plastic is pushed through a tubular shaped die and then stretched and blown with air to create a thin walled film. Due to this process, blown film is much more robust and resilient than cast film.

Stretch Film
Advantages of Blown Stretch Film:
  • Good for securing pallets with pointed or sharp edges (C- loads). 
  • High resistant to tears and punctures
  • Provides a higher carrying and holding capacity
  • High level of memory once stretched
Disadvantages of Blown Stretch Film
  • Makes noise when wrapping the pallets
  • Not as clear as cast film
  • More expensive than cast


Whether you pick cast or blown, each film can be subcategorized to be either conventional, engineered, or pre-stretched film. 


Conventional film is the most common and versatile stretch film. Its single layer structure provides strength by using heavier gauge films depending on the load requirements.


Engineered film is created with high grade poly resins and contains many more layers of film compared to conventional films. This enables you to use a lower gauge at a comparable strength. Essentially, you will use less material in wrapping pallets, which may offset the cost of paying more for engineered film than a standard film.


Pre-stretched film is the thinnest and lightest film. It provides users with a quicker and easier pallet wrapping process. This film can save a company on cost due to improved efficiency and maximized film usability. 

stretch film

Application Method

There are two application methods to apply your stretch film.

Hand Rolls

Hand roll is often referred to as hand stretch film/wrap. This film is designed to be applied by a human and is not used by a stretch wrap machine. Typically, this film is applied with a hand dispenser and is recommended if you are wrapping under 50 pallets per day.

Hand stretch films are small in size and length compared to a machine roll, so it can be carried by a person. Typically, these rolls are 1500ft. or 2000ft. in length.

Stretch Film Hand Roll Onto Pallet
Stretch Film Hand Rolls

Machine Rolls

Machine rolls are designed to be used on a stretch wrapping machine. Machine roll is often referred to as machine stretch film/wrap, which is used to quickly and efficiently wrap loads. Stretch wrapping machines can be either semi-automatic or automatic.

Machine stretch film comes in much larger size, often needing a pallet jack or forklift  to move rolls. Typically, these rolls can range in length from 5,000 ft. to 9,000 ft.

Semi Automatic Stretch Film Machine and Wrap


There are a wide variety of thicknesses when it comes to stretch film. Thickness of a stretch wrap is measured in gauge. The thickness of your gauge will largely depend on the extrusion process you selected, film type, product size, shape, and weight.

To help you get an understanding of gauges here is an example of their strength below:

  • 30 Gauge – Holds up to approximately 800 lb.
  • 63 Gauge – Holds up to approximately 1300 lb.
  • 70 Gauge – Holds up to approximately 1600 lb.
  • 80 Gauge – Holds up to approximately 2200 lb.

** Can vary based on extrusion process and type of film **

Ultimately, the higher gauge of stretch wrap the more resilient and holding capacity a film will have. However, thicker material is more expensive than thinner material. For more information about selecting the right thickness for your stretch film contact Brown Packaging today.


Additives are added to film when it’s being manufactured to give it special properties such as UV, colored, VCI, anti-static, and others.

Colored Stretch Film

Summary: The Basics of Stretch Film

Stretch film can be manufactured in many different ways, which makes it important for you to have a good understanding of it, as it can impact your results. The basics of stretch film can guide you in selecting the right stretch film for your packaging needs. 

For stretch film products and packaging assistance, contact Brown Packaging today.

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