If you want your packaging line to be a success, you need to choose the right stretch film. Smart stretch wrap purchases help you create an efficient workflow that delivers secure and reliable product loads every time.
When choosing between different stretch film options, one crucial factor to consider is thickness. The right stretch film thickness will balance cost-efficiency and weight with strength and durability. Find out everything you need to know about stretch wrap thickness options with this rundown of gauges, durability, and more.
The Importance of Stretch Wrap Thickness
Companies use stretch wrap to cover their product loads and secure them to the pallet. This helps create a secure load that doesn’t tip, spill, or break apart as it makes its way through the supply chain. That’s why stretch wrap thickness is so important; if the film is too thin, it will break and put your products at risk. However, you also want to steer clear of stretch film that is too thick, as this will weigh down your load, crush products, and lead to an unnecessary waste of money and materials.
Learning about the different levels of stretch wrap thickness allows you to choose a stretch film that balances dependability with cost-effectiveness. With the right stretch film, you can improve wrapping efficiency, protect your product loads, and streamline your workflow for a faster, more reliable supply chain.
Understanding Different Types of Stretch Film
How a roll of stretch film is made affects its thickness and strength. In addition to factoring in gauge—which we’ll discuss below—you should also pay attention to the type of film you’re purchasing. Options like cast, blown, true gauge, and pre-stretched stretch film all bring different advantages to your workflow.
Cast Stretch Wrap
Cast stretch wrap is a type of low-density polyethylene film with a manufacturing process that involves melting pellets of resin and extruding the film onto cooled rollers. Cast film is clear and glossy with a consistent cling and thickness. It’s easy to unwind, making it an efficient, easy-to-use solution for light or medium-duty product loads.
Blown Stretch Wrap
Blown stretch wrap also consists of low-density polyethylene film. To make blown stretch wrap, manufacturers use air to shape melted resin into a flat, collapsing tube. Blown stretch wrap is tougher than cast stretch wrap, making it ideal for medium- to heavy-duty product loads.
True Gauge Stretch Wrap
You can also choose true gauge stretch wrap, which offers an incredibly precise thickness that’s accurate to a micrometer. This is a premium form of stretch film that often offers the highest amount of stretch possible.
Pre-Stretch Stretch Wrap
Finally, pre-stretch stretch film is a form of true gauge stretch wrap that manufacturers stretch before placing it onto the core. Pre-stretching film helps your stretch wrap go farther while also making it easier to create a secure wrap. This is an ideal choice for efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and reliability.
Gauge Affects Durability
The thickness of a roll of stretch wrap is also known as its gauge. Knowing the different gauge levels and what types of product loads they work best for is a huge part of what to know about stretch wrap thickness. Gauge is measured in mils or microns. A mil is equal to one thousandth of an inch, and there are 25.4 microns in a mil. A higher gauge means thicker, more durable film. Below are some of the most common film gauges and their ideal usage in pallet wrapping.
A roll of 37 gauge stretch wrap actually consists of 80-gauge film that the manufacturer has pre-stretched. However, it’s still a thin film gauge, so it works best with lighter loads that weigh less than 800 pounds and don’t have any sharp edges or corners.
Also known as a hybrid or equivalent stretch film, 47-gauge wrap uses a unique resin to create a stiffer film. This makes it about the equivalent of a 60-gauge film, which means it works well for loads that weigh up to 1,800 pounds.
This gauge is a true gauge stretch wrap, which means it should measure precisely 60 mils on a micrometer. A 60-gauge wrap is ideal for loads up to 1,800 pounds. It offers excellent stretch, making it a good option for automatic and semi-automatic stretch wrappers.
Though it’s only slightly thicker than a 60-gauge wrap, 63-gauge stretch wrap offers greater strength. It holds up better against tears and punctures, making it a superior option for product loads with sharp corners or edges. A 63-gauge film can handle loads up to 2,200 pounds.
70- and 80-Gauge Wrap
Both 70- and 80-gauge wrap can handle loads ranging from 2,200 to 2,400 pounds. They are both popular options because of their efficient wrapping processes, premium stretch capabilities, and ability to help reduce weight. However, 80-gauge film is the standard for the industry due to its superior versatility.
Heavy-gauge stretch wraps—which are stronger and more resistant to tears, punctures, and other damage—start with the 90-gauge option. A 90-gauge film offers high tension and excellent stretch rate. It’s ideal for pallet loads ranging from 2,400 to 2,600 pounds.
A 100-gauge stretch wrap is a popular choice for wrapping steel drums, beams, and other heavy or irregular objects. It works well with pallet loads that range from 2,800 to 3,000 pounds.
A 115-gauge wrap also offers extreme strength and damage resistance. It offers excellent stretch and helps reduce tears and punctures. This film gauge is great for working with pallet loads of 3,000 pounds or more.
The thickest gauge available is 150-gauge stretch film. This heavy-duty gauge requires an automatic or semi-automatic stretch wrapper to wrap pallet loads effectively. It works well to protect heavy and irregularly shaped loads with products consisting of steel and other metals.
The Art of Downgauging
Stronger film gauges can be a lifesaver when wrapping heavier loads, but that doesn’t mean you want to default to the highest gauge possible for every load. Downgauging—or choosing a thinner, high-performance stretch film over a thicker option—helps you save money without sacrificing quality. When you downgauge your film, you can wrap more product loads while saving money and decreasing material waste.
Streamline Your Wrapping Operations
Choosing the right stretch film thickness is only one part of the equation. You also need the right stretch wrap equipment to make your workflow as efficient, reliable, and cost-effective as possible. That’s where Robopac USA comes in. Explore our range of superior stretch wrapping solutions—including our efficient shrink wrap turntables—to find the right fit for your packaging line. When you pair the right stretch wrapping machine with the correct stretch film option, you can improve safety, consistency, and efficiency in your facility.