There’s a Thin Line…


Stretch film, used to unitize pallet loads & bundle smaller items, is one of the top forms of product protection in the industry due to its cost-effectiveness. It is important to remember that stretch film and shrink wrap are not the same product. Stretch film, well, stretches around product, and its elastic recovery keeps the products tightly bound. Shrink film is loose around the product until shrunk using a heat application.

Though there are many products on the market, stretch film is still the cheapest way of unitizing a pallet. The average cost to unitize a pallet with stretch film is between $0.50 & $0.75 a load, which is a small price to pay when protecting a load worth potentially several thousands of dollars.

Key Stretch Film Characteristics:

Force to Load:

  • High Force stretch film is formulated to provide high load containment values.
  • Soft stretch film is formulated to offer high secondary stretch values.


  • Commonly available gauges range from .4 mil to 3.0 mil.


  • Machine film width ranges from 10-70 inches, though the most commonly used is 20 inches.
  • Hand film width ranges from 10-18 inches, while bundling film can be as narrow as 2-3 inches.

In pallet unitizing, stretch film can perform several functions and has several benefits:

1)    Improved stability of products and packaging, forming a unit load.

2)    More improved handling and storage of unit loads.

3)    Some degree of dust & moisture protection.

4)    Some degree of tamper resistance and resistance to package pilferage.

5)    Low supply cost.

6)    Excellent product protection.

7)    Will not damage or adhere to product.

8)    Can reduce cost of secondary packaging.

9)    Improved warehouse and inventory control.

10)   Reduced freight costs.

Stretch film comes in both blown and cast versions, and while primarily made of LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene), can also be made of other types of polyethylene and PVC as well.  It can be applied manually (hand film) or automatically (machine film) depending on the application.

When deciding between cast & blown films, keep the following properties in mind:

Cast Film Properties

  • Consistent Cling     
  • Clear
  • Gloss
  • More resistance to tearing
  • Excellent Optics
  • Quiet Unwind
  • Consistent Film Thickness

Blown Film Properties

  • Tougher
  • Greater puncture resistance
  • High force on load
  • Stiff
  • Hazy
  • Dull
  • Noisy Unwind

Properties such as break strength, tear resistance, cling, clarity, and static discharge are all considered when choosing the proper stretch film for the application.

There are many varieties of stretch film on the market today. Our job at Tarheel Paper Company is to guide you in purchasing the right film for your application. Call our experts today and we’ll show you can best protect your product while reducing your cost per load.

We have what you need to get the job done.