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Stretch Wrap 101 | U.S. Packaging & Wrapping LLC

Stretch Wrap & Film Information


Stretch Wrap- A highly stretchable plastic film commonly made from Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) wrapped around items. The elastic recovery keeps the products tightly bound.

Stretch film wraps products on pallets and secures them to each other and the pallet. Helping to reduce product loss, discourage load tampering, and reduce worker injury. In further detail, our blog post explains what stretch film is used for. There are a variety of widths, thicknesses, and types of stretch film.

Below is a breakdown of the two most commonly used extrusion processes of stretch film. Extrusion is the manufacturing of stretch film and various other flexible plastic products. Visit our blog for further details about the extrusion process.

Hand Stretch Wrap
Black Stretch Film

Cast Stretch Wrap- Also called cast stretch wrap, is manufactured using a cast extrusion process. The Cast extrusion process is a continuous process by which a thermoplastic material is melted and extruded through a flat die onto a chill roll, quenched, and re-solidified. This process allows the Cast stretch film to have excellent clarity, require less force to stretch, increased tear resistance, unwind quietly from machines, and offer a superior cling. There is both machine-grade and hand-grade cast stretch film available.

Advantages of Cast Stretch Film- Less expensive than blown stretch film, due to reduced manufacturing costs, cast stretch film is more popular. Increased clarity allows users to see wrapped products. Cast stretch wrap unwinds quietly compared to blown stretch wrap. Cast stretch film offers a two-sided cling that keeps the wrap securely packaged.

Disadvantages of Cast Stretch Film- Does not offer the load/holding power blown stretch film provides. Cast stretch film has less memory and tear resistance than blown stretch film.

Extended Core Stretch Wrap

Blown Stretch Wrap- Also referred to as blown stretch wrap, is manufactured using the blown extrusion process. This Plastic melt is extruded through an annular slit die, usually vertically, to form a thin-walled tube. Air is introduced from an opening in the center of the die to blow up the film tube like a balloon. On top of the film tube, an air ring blows onto the film to cool it. This process allows blown film to be more robust and more resilient than cast film. The higher mechanical properties of blown film typically allow a more significant load holding power.

Advantages of Blown Stretch Wrap- Offers higher load and stretch capacity. Blown stretch film is a premium quality film. Blown stretch film has a higher degree of memory once stretched, allowing product loads to stay better secured. Higher tear resistance is an advantage when securing loads with sharp edges.

Disadvantages of Blown Stretch Wrap- Higher cost due to the manufacturing process. The blown stretch wrap has poor clarity due to crystallization in the manufacturing process. Blown film is also noisy when unwound from rolls.

Frequently Ask Stretch Film Questions

When do I use Stretch Film?

Usually, a stretch film holds boxes and products together on a pallet for transportation. It is also used to hold other objects together and protect objects during transport and storage. Stretch film can come in a variety of specialty films. Some examples are UV stretch film, vented pallet wrap, anti-static stretch film, colored stretch film, etc.

How do I know what size of stretch film to use?

Different-sized thicknesses and widths of the film for various applications will need to be considered. Use the chart below to determine which thickness and width are ideal for your application.

Thickness 2"-5" Banding 12"-20" Hand Grade 20" Machine Grade
37 Gauge A pre-stretched eighty gauge film. Great for bundling two light uniform objects together. Users can easily apply the film with minimal exertion. A pre-stretched eighty gauge film. Great for wrapping light, uniform loads less than 800 lbs. Due to the film being pre-stretched, pre-stretched rollers on a machine are unnecessary. Excellent cost saver when wrapping light loads less than 800 lbs.
47 Gauge Often referred to as a hybrid or equivalent bundling film. An excellent option for bundling heavier uniform objects. No products with sharp edges or corners Often referred to as a hybrid or equivalent hand film. The film is stiffer and does not require much stretch from users. Excellent for box and case wrapping up to 1800 lbs. Often referred to as a hybrid or equivalent machine film. A stiffer machine film that works great with most machines. Great for lighter boxes and loads less than 1800 lbs.
60 Gauge Ideal for lighter, smaller objects, small boxes, and banding light items together. Many moving companies use light gauged banding stretch film in place of tape. Ideal for loads up to approx. 1800 lbs. 12", 15", and 18" widths are ideal for shorter loads or loads where the bottom and top only need to be wrapped. Same strength as 12”-20” hand Stretch wrap. Machines promote more efficient wrapping and reduce waste. The true gauged 60 gauge film offers excellent stretch during machine application.
63 Gauge Often measured in microns, a 63 ga film is 16 microns. Thicker and better puncture resistance than 47 ga. Film. Bundle and wrap heavier products with minimal sharp edges. Often measured in microns, a 63 ga film is 16 microns. Thicker and better puncture resistance than 47 ga wrap heavy loads of products up to 2200 lbs with minimal sharp edges. Often measured in microns, a 63 ga film is 16 microns. Thicker and better puncture resistance than 47 ga. Most popular machine film for standard boxed pallets ranging up to 2200 lbs.
70 Gauge The same uses as the 60 gauge but enables slightly stronger holding strength. Often used to bundle multiple long cylindrical products. Ideal for loads up to approx. 2200-2400 lbs.12", 15", and 18" widths are ideal for shorter loads or loads where the bottom and top only need to be wrapped. Same strength as 12”-20” hand Stretch wrap. Machines promote more efficient wrapping and reduce waste with premium stretch.
80 Gauge The most common gauge in all stretch wrap. Known to be very versatile and handle a variety of applications. Ideal for loads up to approx. 2200-2400 lbs. 80 gauge is the most common stretch film thickness and suitable for a variety of applications Same strength as 12”-20” hand Stretch wrap. Machines promote more efficient wrapping and reduce waste.
90 Gauge Better durability and stretch than a standard 80 gauge film. Used to wrap bundle firewood, angle iron, and a variety of other heavier objects Ideal for loads up to approx. 2400-2600 lbs. 90 gauge is a starting thickness for a larger and heavier product wrapping. The 18" and 20" 90 gauge and above is ideal for taller or heavier loads. Same strength as 12”-20” hand Stretch wrap. The ability to run with a higher tension with fewer tears. Excellent stretch rate and memory.
100 Gauge Commonly used for larger boxes and products to bundle together. Medium-heavy boxes and medium-heavy items such as light lumber are ideal. Ideal for loads up to approx 2800-3000 lbs. The 18" and 20" 100 gauge requires maximum exertion during hand application to achieve the proper stretch rate. Same strength as 12”-20” hand Stretch wrap. The machine 100 gauge stretch film is often used to wrap pallets of 55-gallon drums, steel beams, and other heavy objects.
115 Gauge Used for smaller heavy objects, commonly used for banding sets of heavy products together. Ideal for loads up to approx. 3000-200 lbs. The 18" and 20" 115 gauge and above is ideal for taller or heavier loads Same strength as 12”-20” hand Stretch wrap. The 115 gauge provides excellent stretch with limited tears.
150 Gauge Greater strength and puncture resistance, great for regular and irregular shaped boxes. Ideal for securing steel, metal, and other heavy-duty items. Not typically offered in a hand stretch film. The heaviest cast machine stretch film offered. They are meant for heavy-duty pallet loads.

Suggested stretch film load limits only give a general idea of load capacity. They should not be construed as specification limits. Click our gauge conversion chart for more information about gauge, micron, and mil thicknesses. For technical stretch wrap data, click here.

Hybrid Stretch Film

What is an equivalent stretch film?

Due to rising petroleum costs, stretch film manufacturers have made stronger, thinner stretch wrap. This thinner stretch film uses less petroleum resin during manufacturing, therefore costs less. The equivalent stretch film uses a multi-layered technology to increase the film's strength. Different manufacturers have different names for their equivalent films. The two equivalent hand stretch films we offer are Hybrid stretch film and Micron stretch film. We also provide our Performance line of machine stretch film that is thinner and stronger and allows users to save on costs. Both hybrid and micron stretch film is considered eco-friendly option for reducing film waste.

Hybrid stretch film is a thinner stretch film with a super-strong resin formula. It is the most lightweight film we offer, but it is not recommended for loads over 1800 lbs. Because the film is thin, it does not have the same amount of tear resistance as a thicker film.

Micron stretch film is between the "true gauged" stretch film and the Hybrid stretch film. It is a multi-layered film with excellent cling, stretch, and tear resistance. It allows users to reduce costs while staying confident about load security.

Performance machine stretch film is our answer to rising machine stretch film costs. The performance stretch film is a multi-layered machine stretch film that provides more stretch than traditional machine stretch film. It offers a high amount of cling and downsizing opportunities.

Are there any advantages to using opaque stretch film?

The opaque stretch film offers a variety of advantages over transparent stretch film. A few benefits include:

  1. Detours pilferage through valuable shipments by concealing products.
  2. It helps to protect products from UV Rays.
  3. Prevents damage caused by rain, dew, and dust.
  4. Outlasts regular transparent stretch film during extended outdoor storage.
  5. Great for color-coding products.

Do I need a UV stretch Film?

UV protection can help extend the life of the stretch film when stored in the sun. Using an opaque UV stretch wrap can increase the film's and the product's storage life when stored outside. Anyone should consider UV stretch for any shipments stored outside longer than 60 days.

Opaque Shrink Film

Are shrink wrap and stretch film recyclable?

Both shrink wrap/film and stretch film/wrap are recyclable. Check with your local recycling center, and be sure they accept soft plastics.

Do I need a particular stretch wrap machine?

Stretch wrap machines are recommended for any business wrapping more than 15 loads per day. Stretch wrap machines help to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and promote a more secure and consistent load. There are a variety of manual stretch film dispensers and products for businesses that stretch wrap less than 15 loads per day. The Extended core stretch film is ready and easy to use out of the box. It is excellent for businesses that need stretch film, but do not ship many loads. Two-handed manual stretch film dispensers are used because of ease of use, a built-in braking system, and the ability to tightly secure loads.

What is Pre Stretch Film?

Pre-stretch film or Pre-stretched film is a standard gauged stretch film stretched up to 90% of the film's maximum stretch rate. A standard 80 gauge stretch film becomes a 37 gauge stretch film after stretched 90%. The stretched film is rolled onto cores and requires little stretch during application.

How to stretch wrap a pallet?

Extract approximately a yard of plastic off the stretch film roll, squeeze 8 to 10 inches of the end together to form a rope shape. Thread the rope part through one corner of the pallet. A knot is not necessary. Begin wrapping around the base of the pallet. Wrap the bottom of the pallet at least five times while keeping the film tight as pulled off the roll. Slowly work your way up the box, focusing on maintaining a tight wrap. The goal is to have all of the products stay together as one. Once at the top of the pallet, push the top boxes to see if they move or if they are one with the bottom boxes. If they move, wrap your way back down to the bottom of the pallet.

What is the Difference Between Shrink Wrap and Stretch Film?

View our chart below for a quick description of the differences. Check out our page dedicated to shrink wrap and stretch film differences for a detailed look at these materials.

Characteristics Stretch Wrap Shrink Wrap
Heat Required No Yes
High Stretch Rate over 100% Yes No
Used to Wrap Pallets Yes Rarely
Used to Wrap Retail Products Rarely Yes
Used to Wrap Industrial Products Yes Occasionally
Clarity Good Excellent
Safe for Direct Food Contact No Polyolefin Shrink Wrap
Most Common Thickness 80 Gauge 75 Gauge

Common Stretch Film Terms

Blown Stretch Film- A stretch film derived from the blown extrusion process that has a higher puncture resistance. Click on the stretch film info page to view detailed information about blown stretch film.

Bottom Wraps-The wraps a stretch wrap machine uses to apply film to the bottom section of the load. Forming a secure bottom wrap will help to ensure load stability.

Cast Stretch Film- A stretch film derived from the cast extrusion process. Less manufacturing costs allow cast stretch film to be the more widely used stretch film. Visit the stretch film info page to view detailed info about cast stretch film.

Cling- Allows the film to stick to itself and not the product. Some films have one-sided cling, and others have two-sided cling.

Co-extrusion- Extruding two or more materials through a single die to enable the two materials to merge.

Dart Drop- A commonly used test to measure the puncture strength of a stretch film. It's conducted by dropping a semi-circular shaped object onto the film.

Elastic Recovery-The ability of a stretch film to recover to its original shape after being stretched.

Elmendorf Tear-Another standard test used for stretch film and other products to measure tear resistance.

Extruder- Equipment used to change solid polymers into molten polymers.

Film Feed-In a stretch wrap machine, it is the speed at which stretch film is supplied to the load.

Film Force-Refers to the amount of tension applied to the film as the film is applied to the load.

Film Memory- The ability of the film to return to its pre-stretched form. Enabling the film to maintain a tight load during transportation.

Film Tail-The start and end pieces of stretch film applied to the load. The first tail tied to the pallet, and the end tucked or tied off.

Gauge-A measurement used to measure film thickness or caliper. One gauge is equal to .254 microns. Microns are another common form of film measurement.

Gloss- The amount of light reflected from a film’s surface. Cast stretch films tend to have a higher gloss than blown stretch films.

Haze- Refers to a lack of clarity in the film. Thicker plastic films generally have more haze than thinner films.

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