Quick guide to Print: shrink-wrapping

by Rich B

Shrink-wrapping by film is a way of protecting printed matter, replacing cartons or bulk packaging on pallets.  It can be used to wrap either single copies or stacks.  It makes identification easy, handles well, provides a degree of security and protects from dampness.

Shrink-Wrapping-in-direct-mailing-house

Quick, simple, automated shrink-wrapping

Design Issues (individual wrapping only):

  • Magazines that are mailed out individually may have printed matter and labels on the wrapping, which may obscure part of the magazine design that you wish to be seen.  Some magazines require to be wrapped in an opaque film to prevent pilfering or are of a confidential nature.  Because of the wide range of films available, ask to see a copy shrink-wrapped before giving the go-ahead as it can save time and money later.
  • If in doubt about the film’s suitability or strength, have a copy posted to you and judge it when it arrives.  If your magazine is thin, below 3mm, then it is advisable not to shrink-wrap it but just to use the film to wrap and seal to avoid bending.
  • One advantage of film as opposed to cartons is that it takes up less space.  Sometimes it can attract dust if stored for long undisturbed periods, but ageing is not a problem.

Production Issues:

  • The normal shrink-wrap film thickness for single magazines is 30 microns and for packs 65 microns.  It is not a good idea to try and save money by reducing the thickness or buying cheap film as one job, badly wrapped can result in a reprint.  The main cost in shrink-wrapping is labour, followed by machine, energy and then film costs.
  • Use a low slip film and whilst polythene is usually the most popular film, there are many more, such as polyethylene, PVC, biaxially orientated polypropylene, acetate, etc.  Talk to your supplier and test any films.  If an outside finisher is used, ask for samples.
  • Most reasonable sizes can be shrink-wrapped, but height can be a problem as the higher the pile/stack goes the more unstable it becomes and can stack badly on pallets.  Machines that have shrink-wrappers in-line can pose problems, as inspection of copies is much more difficult.

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