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Shrink Packaging Roll Tips - Vital Shrink Equipment Info Before Buying

Shrink packaging rolls are available in many forms and made from various materials. Below, we discuss shrink packaging rolls and tips for determining the correct machines for each roll. Adjusting from shrink bags to rolls can help increase efficiency and machine capabilities. So whether you are searching for your first shrink packaging roll or information for re-ordering, view the tips below to help find the suitable materials and machines for your application.

Shrink Packaging Roll Differences

Shrink Roll Material

The correct material is essential if you need to rebuy a shrink roll or purchase it for the first time. Packaging a product with improper shrink materials can cause numerous issues. Below is a brief description of common materials used for shrink packaging rolls.

PVC – Shrinks at lower temperatures than other films but does contain chloride that can emit an odor when heat is applied. This material is not for direct food contact. After heat is used, it becomes more stiff and brittle. Many products are wrapped with PVC, though not as popular now with other options on the market. PVC is still often used for shrink banding over lids and caps. It is also typical for wrapping tools, art, and dog bones.

Polyolefin – Centerfold polyolefin rolls have become known for full enclosure shrink packaging. Many variations of polyolefin shrink film depend on the application and machine used. The centerfold means the roll is folded in half lengthways and placed on the roll. Products are inserted into the fold in the roll and sealed to enclose the product entirely.

Polyethylene – Popular rolls for shrink packaging bottles, cans, and other items. Most polyethylene shrink rolls come single-wound, meaning they come off the roll flat. The material is folded over the case and then sealed. After heat is applied and the film shrinks, the package, known as bullseyes, will have holes on each end. Most polyethylene shrink rolls are at least a two-mil thickness, and some are thicker depending on the packaging application.

Shrink Packaging Roll Tip #1: Know the size and weight of the largest wrapped product.

Shrink Packaging Roll Tip #2: Determine what will happen to the item after it is wrapped. Will the item go into a larger box, ship via common carrier with the wrap exposed, or will the product go into frozen storage?

Shrink Packaging Roll Tip #3: With the information gathered from the first two tips, determine if a thicker material will be needed or if a thin shrink packaging roll can be used for the product application.

Shrink Packaging Roll Tip #4: Determine if the wrapped items should be fully sealed or enclosed or if open ends are acceptable.

Shrink Packaging Roll Tip #5: Determine the proper equipment with the correct shrink packaging roll. Below is a brief look at equipment to consider based on the type of roll you choose.

Shrink Packaging Equipment

Shrink Packaging Equipment

Suitable shrink packaging equipment will require a heat source and a sealer depending on the application. For fully enclosed wrapping, a sealer will be needed. There are many options available for both sealers and heating sources.

Sealers – Heat sealers mend materials together to form a seal. The style of shrink roll used will determine the ideal sealer.

  1. I Bar Sealers – Used for thinner materials, the single sealing bar heats when closed and seals one side of the film. After the first seal is made, the product must be rotated and sealed again for full enclosure.
  2. L Bar Sealers – Made for centerfold shrink rolls to seal open ends for a full enclosure. L bar sealers have multiple sealing options available. The amount of desired production can better determine the sealing element. A hot knife L bar sealer is the best option for the most output.
  3. Shrink Bundlers – Made for packaging cases of drinks or cans, often using a cardboard tray on the bottom. The sealer for bundling is usually a hot knife due to the packaging roll thickness. Like an I bar sealer, the bundler sealer will only seal one side, leaving two open ends.

Heat Sources – It is possible that, depending on the shrink roll being used, a sealer is not needed. Rolls of tubing and other applications may not require a sealer. They will need a heat source to shrink the material around the product.

  1. Heat Guns – Heat guns are for low-output shrink packaging. They can be waved around shrink products to heat materials. Thinner materials can quickly establish burn holes with a heat gun, and thicker materials can take longer to reach a total shrink with a heat gun. We recommend a heat gun for anyone beginning shrink packaging and wrapping under one hundred products daily.
  2. Shrink Tunnels – Though they cost substantially more than a heat gun, they are more consistent and efficient. Shrink tunnel temperatures can be set with a conveyor belt running through the tunnel. Users can adjust the belt speed and temp to accommodate the shrink packaging roll used. Shrink tunnels can pay for themselves through increased packaging rates and reducing the number of redo’s. Determining the correct shrink material before buying a shrink tunnel is critical. Three common types of tunnels are convection, infrared,  and steam tunnels. Some tunnels will not work with specific shrink materials.


Shink packaging rolls are not one size fits all. There are several factors to determine the proper thickness, size, material, and style. In addition to determining the correct roll, the right equipment should be considered. Aside from the roll material, size, and thickness, efficiency should also be considered when choosing a machine.

For companies packaging products under 15 lbs. that will go into a box for shipping, a 75 gauge shrink film is the standard thickness. Light products can be used with a 60 gauge polyolefin roll for easy opening. Heavier items will need thicker shrink film. Strong 100 gauge shrink film will handle many applications, but beyond that, a polyethylene roll should be considered. For more shrink roll tips and information, call 1-800-441-5090 or shop online.


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