Stretch Film

A guide to choosing the right stretch wrap for your business

5 mins

Across many warehouse and other business operations, stretch wrap is a product used thoroughly on a day-to-day basis. It is responsible for keeping most pallets secure during both storage and transport, meaning stretch wrap usage quickly adds up, with an estimated usage of 150,000 tonnes per year.

Too often, businesses evaluate the purchase of their stretch wrap based purely on the cost of a roll. But the reality is, overall stretch wrap costs are largely determined by the volume of material used to wrap each pallet.

So, if you’re yet to evaluate the stretch wrapping process in your operation, there’s a potential for big savings to be had. But in order to identify potential areas for cost savings, you first need to consider your stretch wrap options before deciding what’s best suits your needs.

In this article, we explore everything you need to know about stretch wrap so that you can make an informed decision and select the right product for your business.

Quick tips for choosing stretch wrap

For those who want a summarised view of what’s to come, here’s 5 common types of stretch wrap products and their best uses.

Type of Stretch Wrap


Hand or Machine grade

Best uses

General purpose 50-120 Both A general-purpose film that works for most applications. Comes in a range of gauges for a variety of tasks.
High-performance 37-75 Both Newer technology films that provide high strength and puncture resistance at a thinner gauge than general purpose wraps.
Anti-static 80 Both Protects electrical goods in shipment from static discharge.
Pre-Stretched 25-39 Hand Provides consistent wrapping tension, good load stability, and is lightweight for easier handling that higher-gauge wraps.
Colour coding 80 Hand Used to indicate how contents should be handled, shipped or stored.

Understanding stretch wrap gauge (thickness)

Another consideration to make when looking to purchase stretch wrap is the gauge, or thickness, of the wrap.

The gauge can be converted into mils or micrograms. E.g 50-gauge film is 0.5 mil or 12.6 microns tick. Whilst 100-gauge film is 1.0 mil or 25 microns thick.

Stretch wrap is available in gauges ranging from 37 to 150. The higher the gauge, the more resistant it is to be torn or punctured.

Heavier gauges do require more tension to apply and are generally more costly. Picking the sweet spot between reliability and cost will ensure a secure load without wasted spend or material.

Types of stretch wrap

When looking to purchase stretch wrap, you first want to determine what type of wrap your operation needs. If a variety of wrapping tasks need fulfilling around the warehouse, a choice of general purpose wrap may be suitable. If you’re dealing with electronics, anti-static wrap is your best bet. If you’re storing and shipping highly important or valuable goods, a high-performance stretch wrap will give you the performance desired.

The point is, there’s a type of stretch wrap out there to suit your needs, it’s just a case of working out what your needs are and then pairing a certain stretch wrap to fulfil them.

Hand vs machine-applied

Many (but not all) types of stretch wrap will come in both hand and machine-applied versions. Meaning you need to consider the extent of your wrapping process alongside your needs. A busy operation wrapping hundreds of pallets a day will benefit from a stretch wrap machine, which needless to say, requires machine-applied stretch wrap.

On the other hand, a smaller volume of pallets won’t warrant machinery – a hand-applied stretch wrap process will be efficient, with anything more being overkill.

Hand-applied stretch wrap

Hand stretch wrapping is done manually by simply winding the stretch film around the objects needing to be wrapped. Proper tension must be used to ensure a tight wrap and secure hold for storage and transport. Hand-applied stretch wrap is designed for user in mind, with shorter and lighter rolls that can be comfortably applied by a human.

Machine-applied stretch wrap

Machine stretch wrapping is noticeably faster, easier and more efficient. It can provide a tighter, more consistent wrap for maximum load security and reduced waste. Stretch wrap machines can be purchased as fully automatic or semi-automatic.

Consider your pallet load size

By now, you should have a reasonable understanding of what stretch wrap your business may need. But to help make things clearer, consider the following point.

Each pallet within your operation can be labelled with a load size, from type A, B, or C. The type of pallet you usually deal with will help determine how strong (think gauge size) your stretch wrap needs to be. Here’s why:

  • Type A: A pallet with a uniform shape that has zero puncture points. This type of load is the easiest to wrap. A lower gauge wrap can be used for Type A comfortably with minimal stress on the integrity of the material.
  • Type B: This type of load is not as uniform as Type A, consisting of several puncture points. The stretch wrap needs to be of a higher performance to ensure no tearing occurs during shipment.
  • Type C: With type C, no two loads are the same. The size and shape of the load vary all over the place, with several puncture points throughout. Stretch wrap selection is extremely important in this situation.

Looking for a consistent & optimal stretch wrap solution?

Traditional pallet wrapping could be costing your business time and money. With a lack of optimal stretch and wrap consistency, excess film is likely being used to get the job done.

At Swiftpak, we have over 45 years of experience and can quickly help you identify your stretch wrap problems and recommend a stretch wrap solution your business deserves. From our high-performance hand-applied Precisionrap, our machine-applied MWrap through to our semi automatic machine options, we’ll help provide consistent load containment for your pallets, every time.

For more information on how we can help, contact our expert team at Swiftpak today. We’re always happy to answer your questions and would love to show you how a simple stretch wrap adjustment could make the world of a difference.