How to choose high-quality stretch film

4 Things to consider when matching stretch film to the application


The first thing to consider when selecting a stretch film for your machine is force-to-load, sometimes called the holding force, or containment force, of the film itself. Force-to-load is essentially how far out you can stretch the film and the manner in which it snaps back (like a rubber band) and is indicative of how well a film holds the load together. Some films have better force-to-load, or holding forces, than others and while they may have a bigger price tag initially, they typically result in lower cost-per-load and less damage to product.

To determine the right stretch film for your particular load, you must first look at what your force-to-load is at the top, middle and bottom of your loads. From there, you can decide if you’re able to stretch the film farther and get more wraps per load, reduce the number of wraps required or potentially down-gauge (see below) the film material’s thickness.

Gauge and Thickness of Stretch Film

Stretch film is measured in mils or microns, and typically the higher the gauge, the thicker and more durable the film and the more reliable the load. Just remember there are many other factors at play when selecting the appropriate gauge and thickness of your stretch film. 

Many stretch film users think they can save money by choosing a lower gauge (down-gauging), but they often need to increase the number of times they wrap the load (revolutions) with film. Not only does this lead to increased cost-per-load, but it also increases the wear and tear on the machine itself and slows down production on the line.

Shipping Cycle

Understanding the shipping cycle for each load is just as important as the above five factors when selecting the right stretch film. There’s a big difference between shipping across town to a distribution center and shipping a load across the Rocky Mountains to California. The longer the load must travel, the more stops and starts it will experience and is subject to increased movement and jostling of the packages. The last thing you want is an overturned pallet upon delivery due to faulty packaging.

Material/Time/Labor Costs

In addition to choosing the right stretch film for the machine, stretch film users should take time to consider the volume and frequency of the items shipped. How many pallets do you send out every day, week or month? How much time and labor hours are involved for each pallet to leave the facility? How much film are you using per load? Once you can track that data, you’ll be able to choose the most efficient stretch film for your packaging application needs and budget.

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