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All Shrink Wrap Machines are Not Created Equal

Anyone looking for a shrink wrap machine can easily find one online from a variety of websites. Shrink wrapping machines require a heat sealer to seal open ends and a heating element to heat the film after it is sealed. Most smaller output operations use a heat gun for the heating element. A shrink tunnel is a more efficient heating element option.

By looking online someone can find machines for a few dollars on one website and identical looking machines on another website for much more. In this post, we are going to look at different options available online and why pricing can vary so dramatically for what appears to be the same machine.

The Basic Function of a Sealer

Impulse sealers are one of the most common shrink wrap machines available. Most impulse sealers look similar to a stapler. The sealing bar opens up and the shrink film, bags, or tubing is placed between the sealing bar and base of the sealer. The sealing bar normally has springs and a silicone strip to push the shrink film against the sealing wire. Heat is applied through the sealing wire on the base of the sealer and the shrink film is melted together to form a seal.

The basic function and design of an impulse sealer is standard across the board. The differences in price and quality are often found in the subtleties of the machines.


For this post, we did a quick look online for a common sized impulse sealer. We searched for a 12 inch impulse sealer. The lowest price we found was $15. The sealer was a 2mm flat wire sealer.

As a reference, our 12 inch 2mm flat wire sealer retails for $139. We would love to sell our 12 inch impulse sealers for $15, but you cannot even make the impulse sealers we sell for that. The feel of a less expensive machine compared to our sealers is a noticeable difference. Just the metal used in production is substantially different.

The differences found in the quality and price of shrink wrap machines are not limited to impulse sealers. I Bar sealers are another commonly found shrink machine online. A quick internet search for an 18 inch I Bar machine found a variety of prices. The lowest we found was for $132.

To use our pricing as a reference, our 18 inch I bar machine sells for $299. The cost of $132 is less than we can get our machines for and we buy in bulk. We have found through trial and error that offering a better quality machine is less headache for us and our customers.

Common Differences

There are a few common traits found in less expensive shrink wrap machines. Below are a few of the common differences found from machine to machine.

Thinner Sealing Wires- One of the most common differences in lower quality sealers is the thickness of the sealing wire. The image to the right shows a round and flat sealing wire. Lower quality machines often have much thinner wires that have a tendency to burn up quicker. The sealing wires have electricity running through them to heat the wire. Smaller and thinner wires do not offer as good of a seal and burn up faster.

Thinner or No Teflon Tape- We have had some customers call that have machines with no Teflon tape over the top of the sealing wire or under the sealing wire. It is very important for a sealer to have both. The tape under the sealing wire keeps the wire from touching the metal base of the sealer and shorting. The tape over the sealing wire protects the wire from film build up after several seals.

Thinner, inexpensive Teflon tape can be a problem as well. A thin low-quality Teflon tape over the top of the sealing wire will cause the wire to burn through the tape faster than a higher quality tape.

Low-Quality Connector Switch- The connector switch engages the heat through the sealing wire once the sealing bar is closed. This is a very common faulty component on lower quality sealers. The replacement of the switch is often more than the cost of a new inexpensive sealer.

Low-Quality Metals- Having an inexpensive machine compared to a better quality machine, the metal used in production is often much higher quality. The metal quality does not impair the functionality of the machine but is often an easy indicator of a lower quality machine.

When a Lower Quality Machine is a Better Option

We did not intend to write this post discouraging everyone away from buying lower quality shrink wrap machines. In fact, even though we do not sell them we often recommend them as an option. There are several instances a lower quality machine is a great option. See below.

Experimenting- A lower quality machine is a great option for experimenting with shrink film or poly products. Less expensive machines will allow users to order film and a machine at a lower cost for trial runs.

Start-Up Businesses- A less expensive shrink wrap machine makes perfect sense when starting a business on a budget. The cheaper machine should help get enough business until a higher quality machine is needed.

Low Output- Some businesses only have a handful of products they shrink wrap per week or month. An inexpensive machine is an excellent option when only packaging a few objects.

If you have any questions about shrink wrap machines or shrink wrap packaging, feel free to call us at 1-800-441-5090. Our sales staff would love to assist you.


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