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How Much Do You Know About Shrink Film?

Apr. 07, 2023

The high global demand for shrink sleeves is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5.5% and offers benefits such as 360-degree views, additional print space, and tamper resistance. 

As a result of this demand, a wide variety of shrink films have emerged on the market, each with its own specific composition and characteristics. Choosing the right film requires a rigorous analysis of the project and may even depend on the environmental footprint the customer wishes to leave behind. The following is a brief overview of the various shrink films available:

PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the most common material used in this type of application, is a high-density film that shrinks in the low-temperature range. It has good clarity and high impact strength, which provides additional weathering and abrasion resistance. The film begins to shrink between 122° F and 140° F and has good shrinkage properties - typically between 40% and 65%.

PVC Shrink Film

PVC Shrink Film

PETG (polyethylene terephthalate) is the most heat-resistant shrink sleeve material, offering high abrasion resistance and excellent clarity. The film begins to shrink between 158° F and 176° F with high shrinkage (up to about 80%).

 PETG Heat Shrink Films

PETG Heat Shrink Films

OPS (oriented polystyrene) is a low-density film that is softer to the touch and easier to squeeze than other shrink materials. It offers the lowest vertical film shrinkage, up to 75%, and has minimal machine-directional (MD) shrinkage.

PLA (polylactic acid) is a biodegradable thermoplastic made from renewable resources. It is the most environmentally friendly film, requires less energy due to the low shrinkage onset temperature requirement, and can shrink up to 72%. Although PLA is not as transparent as other films, it is FDA approved for direct food applications.

PLA Shrink Film

PLA Shrink Film

Common Shrink Wrap Terms

  • Centerfold Shrink Film- Film that has been folded in half lengthways to make wrapping easier and quicker.

  • Crow's Feet- Wrinkles diverging out from a finished package's corners

  • Dog Ears- Triangular projections of unshrunk film at the corners of complete packages. Common in packages wrapped with PVC shrink wrap.

  • Gauge- A measurement used to describe film thickness. One gauge is equal to .254 Microns. View our gauge conversion chart for further clarification.

  • Impulse Sealer- A sealer using a heating element that is pulsed with voltage during the sealing process. The heat from the sealer mends polymer materials together.

  • L-Bar Sealer- A sealer where the sealing surface is in the shape of a backward "L". A universal sealer for people wanting to seal faster than using an impulse sealer.

  • Lap Seal- Making a seal using two layers of shrink film lapped over each other.

  • Machine Direction- The direction in which the film is manufactured and moves through the sealing equipment.

  • Memory- The ability of a shrink film to maintain characteristics after sealing

  • Optics- The visual properties of a shrink or stretch film.

  • Polyolefin- A polymer produced from a simple olefin (also called an alkene with the general formula CnH2n) as a monomer. Shrink film is made from this and is commonly referred to as POF shrink film.

  • PVC- Polyvinyl Chloride, is a thermoplastic polymer that is the third most-produced plastic in the world. PVC shrink film is a universal shrink wrap used for various applications.

  • Shrink Tunnel- Equipment that uses a chamber to produce heat with a continuous conveyor running through the chamber.

  • Tear Resistance- The ability of a film to resist tears with forced exertion on the film. Using a shrink film with a higher tear resistance is important when wrapping heavy products or products with sharp edges.

Contact an HYF Team today at info@hyfpack.com to learn more about shrink films and which option is best for your next label print project.