Hand Stretch Wrap vs. Machine Stretch Wrap: What Are The Differences?

Hand Stretch Wrap vs. Machine Stretch Wrap: What Are The Differences?

What Stretch Wrap Should You Use?

Pallet stretch wrap is available to buy in hand and machine rolls. These rolls come in different sizes, so one roll can handle certain applications better than the other. Before you shop for stretch wrap, you should determine which type is best for the task presented to you. Using the wrong roll for a certain task can result in stretch wrap being wasted.

Learn about the differences between these rolls, and see which type you should buy.

A Few Initial Comparisons

Hand Rolls Are Better for Certain Applications

Compared to machine rolls, hand rolls are short and light, since they are designed to be held in the hands. Meanwhile machine rolls are longer and wider, and can weigh up to 100 lbs. each.

Most machine stretch film rolls are 20 inches to 80 inches wide, but custom sizes are available, such as 12 inch rolls for wrapping windows. Hand rolls often range from 10 inches to 18 inches wide, with the 12 inch, 15 inch, and 18 inch variations being the most popular.

Other differences between hand and machine stretch wrap rolls include stretch rate, which is the percentage of stretch a film can obtain before tearing. A 100% stretch rate doubles the roll length, which reduces film waste and cost. Each type of film uses different additives during the extrusion process, which can increase UVI resistance, puncture resistance, and stretch rate.

Hand Stretch Wrap

Stretch Film Designed for Smaller Tasks

Hand stretch wrap was designed to be applied by hand on a pallet. As a result, hand rolls are shorter, ranging from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet in length. 1,500 feet is typically the most popular length for hand rolls. Hand rolls are also pretty light, usually ranging from 5 to 9 pounds.

Multiple thicknesses are available, depending on what item is being wrapped. Pre-stretched hand film can be relatively thin, having a minimum 30 gauge thickness. Heavier hand film can have up to a 130 gauge thickness. Thicker film offers higher puncture resistance and increased film memory, but requires harder tension to reach the maximum stretch rate.

A standard 80 gauge hand stretch wrap roll typically has a 75% to 150% stretch rate, depending on the manufacturer. Users applying the film must maintain constant tension to obtain a 100% stretch rate. If a 100% stretch rate is obtained, a standard 1,500-foot roll can stretch to 3,000 feet in length.

Machine Stretch Wrap

Larger Stretch Rolls Are Designed for Machine Use

The width of a standard machine stretch wrap roll can stretch to 80 inches. Wider rolls are used for tall pallets, and can reduce the amount of revolutions needed for a full wrap. Special machine film carriages are required to fit the rolls into a stretch wrap machine.

Like hand stretch wrap, machine film is available in a wide range of thicknesses. Pre-stretched machine stretch film can have a 30 gauge thickness at the bare minimum. Thicker film is available, up to 150 gauge thickness. Thicker machine stretch wrap has excellent stretch and puncture resistance, making it great for wrapping heavier pallets that have sharp and jagged edges.

The ability for a machine to maintain a consistent tension allows for much higher film stretch rates than that of hand stretch wrap. 200% to 250% stretch rates are standard for machine roles, but they can go beyond this in certain situations. The type of film being used and the machine’s settings are the two biggest factors in maximizing film stretch rates.

This is important, because obtaining a 200% stretch rate can turn a standard 5,000 foot machine roll into a 15,000 foot roll. This increased stretch rate can save you a lot of time and money.

Try to Avoid Stretch Film Waste

Using hand stretch wrap on a stretch wrap machine will not obtain the same stretch rate as a roll of machine stretch wrap. Likewise, having a shipper wrap a pallet by hand with a heavy roll of machine stretch wrap is not practical. Both of these scenarios create reduced stretch rates, which results in wasted stretch wrap and money.

Stretch film waste can in some cases double or triple overall cost. Using the right stretch wrap machine with the proper machine stretch film, and having it installed by a professional can save thousands in costs annually.