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Polythene film

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Polythene film is...

  • Used to package items by wrapping or covering them
  • A very thin, usually transparent material made from polyethylene (more frequently referred to as polythene)
  • Also known as poly film, film on the roll, poly-tubing or shrink wrap
  • Very popular in the packaging industry and one of the most popular materials used to package a range of goods
  • Great for keeping food fresh and prolonging its shelf life
  • Perfect for wrapping awkwardly-shaped items that don’t quite fit into traditional packaging, like plastic bags
  • Simple to use. Just pull the film off the roll, tear it and then wrap your item. Easy peasy and can be used time and time again.
  • Versatile. Use it to wrap any item, any size or shape, or a range of items all of different sizes. No 'one size fits all'!
  • Used to wrap items on its own, or in tandem with other packaging, such as boxes or trays, to complete the wrapping and make an item look more presentable
  • A tried and trusted security device, used by thousands of travellers every day to wrap their suitcases or backpacks, adding an extra anti-tamper layer of security
  • Used to make polythene tubing such as layflat tubing - an even handier way to wrap products. Just pull the tube over the product, cut and then seal with tape, staples a clamp or a heat sealer the end to finish the job
  • Very flexible, which makes it very versatile, meaning it’s great to work with and you’ll soon wonder where you were without it. You could call it your flexible friend

Making the unwrappable wrappable

If you have an item that needs wrapping but won’t fit into ‘regular’ packaging like a plastic carton or bag, the polythene film could be just what you are looking for.

If you have loads of different items to wrap, each of which is a different shape or size, or just an awkward shape in the first place, then polythene film is definitely what you’re looking for!

Polythene film comes on the roll so you can dispense as little or as much film as you need to wrap your item. Place your item on a table or other surface next to the roll of film. Then pull the film off slowly the roll until it extends far enough for you to wrap your item. If you need more than a single coat of polythene film, make you roll off enough film for this, or simply repeat with a second coat.

When you have unravelled enough film, cut the film at the relevant point and then wrap your item. If you need to seal the wrapping shut you can do this with various devices, including a bag clip, bag tie or, perhaps the best solution of all, a heat sealer.

You can then repeat as necessary ad infinitum, or at least until you’ve run out of polythene film. And it doesn’t matter if the next item your wrap is smaller or larger, thinner or wider, rounder or flatter than the previous item - with polythene film you can wrap all shapes and sizes of item with no problem at all!

Shrink wrap

Shrink wrap is a type of polythene film that shrinks under the application of heat. Shrink wrap is available in clear or coloured polythene and keeps out moisture from inside the packaging. It is used to wrap a range of items from CDs to magazines, providing a smart wrapping whilst still making the contents of the package visible from the outside. It also helps to prolong the shelf life of food and so it is used regularly in food production.

To make the polythene used in shrink wrap actually shrink, you need to place it directly underneath a heat source. In factories or large manufacturing bases, this is often be done with a specially-designed machine. However, a more common method, and one available to small business and people working at home, is through the use of a shrink gun.

Once your item is covered in your polythene shrink wrap, apply heat across the wrapping and, as the molecules (polymers) in the polythene change move, the wrapping shrinks tightly around the item.

Polythene film as DIY bag security

If you’ve ever passed through an airport and seen someone’s suitcase covered in tightly wrapped film and looking like a giant packed lunch, then the chances are you’ve just looked at a bag covered in shrink wrap.

One of the main benefits of shrink wrap is that it makes packages more tamper proof so, if you’re worried about the contents of your suitcase pockets getting pilfered, then shrink wrap could be the answer for you. With a few layers of shrink wrap applied and then heat sealed onto the bag, not only does this provide an excellent protective layer that thieves will find difficult to break through, but it also keeps your bag safe from bumps, scratches and tears. Something to think about next time you’re off to the airport on holiday!

Layflat tubing - polythene film in the round!

Layflat tubing is made from polythene film but comes with one obvious difference: rather than a single layer of film, layflat tubing - as the name suggests - comes in a tube!

Imagine two sheets of polythene film laid one on top of the other, with the ends then sealed together with an invisible join, so that there is no mark, fold or crease anywhere on the film, just a circle of film stretching on and on into a long, continuous tube!

Layflat tubing, which is also known as poly-tubing, is dispensed off a central roll, which is sealed at the core but open at the outside, to provide a quick, easy and convenient method of packaging items and is widely used within the industry.

Ideal for bespoke packaging, layflat tubing allows the user to pack awkwardly-shaped items or a series of items of irregular length, all with a minimum of fuss.

To wrap an item in layflat tubing, simply place it inside the open end of the tube and then cut the tube to the required length, ensuring you’ve cut off enough polythene to cover the item.

You then seal seal the tube at one or both ends, as required, using either a bag tie, clip, tape or, most effectively, a heat sealer.

Whatever size or shape of item you have, there is most likely a size of layflat tubing that suits your job, as the polythene tubes are manufactured in a range of sizes from 2” (5cm) wide to 4’ or 48” (122cm) wide.

Where to buy polythene film

Polythene film manufacturers and suppliers include:

Polythene
Polythene.co.uk is a website and online shop dedicated to polythene manufacturing. They produce a whole range of polythene products - from anti-static film to ziplite bags - all available to purchase via their excellent website.
www.polythene.co.uk

Polythene Ireland
Polythene.ie offers VAT-registered Irish customers a VAT-free puchase - equating to a 21% saving! - on a huge range of polythene products, including polythene film, poly or layflat tubing, plastic sheeting and shrink pallet covers. www.polythene.ie

Heat Sealers
Heat Sealers Direct is the number one online destination for heat sealers. They stock best quality continuous and impulse heat sealers, along with a range of layflat tubing, shrink wrap and pallet covers - all at competitive prices.
www.heatsealersdirect.co.uk

Polythene Film
Catering for all your polythene film and packaging needs, this website contains loads of useful information on polythene film, layflat tubing and heat sealers, along with details of where you can buy them at fantastic discount prices.
www.polythenefilm.co.uk

Polythene Tubing
Containing lots of useful information on polythene tubing, polythene film and layflat tubing, this website is the place to go if you're looking to find out more about poly tubing and where to buy it at the right price.
www.polythenefilmdirect.co.uk

Pallet Covers
Discount Pallet Covers is the website to visit for anyone looking for stock or custom-made pallet covers or polythene covers. Buy or find out more about a huge range of covers, available at the best discount prices.
www.discountpalletcovers.co.uk

Polythene Layflat Tubing
If you're looking to buy any sort of polythene film, from layflat tubing to shrink wrap covers, or you're in the market for a heat sealer to seal your polythene tubing, then this is the website for you.
www.polythenefilm.com

Plastic Films
An informative website containing all you need to know about plastic film - a popular polythene packaging product sold on the roll in a single or multi-layer and is available in clear or coloured and plain or printed form.
www.discountpolythenefilm.co.uk

Stretch Wrap
The expert website for all your stretch wrap needs. This site contains all you need to know about stretch wrap - a polythene cover designed to hold boxes or other items on a pallet - whilst telling you the best play to buy it at the right price.
www.stretch-wrap.co.uk

Poly Sheeting
Containing lots of useful information on poly sheeting, polythene tubing, shrink wrap and a wide range of poly or layflat tubing, Discount Plastic Film is the perfect website to visit if you're looking to buy plastic film at a discount price.
www.discountplasticfilm.co.uk

Plastic Sheeting
A veritable mine of information on polythene film, sheeting and stretch wrap, Plastic Film is the perfect one-stop-shop for anyone looking to find the right kind of plastic film for the job in hand.
www.plasticfilm.co.uk

Research & Resources

To find out more about polythene film or layflat tubing, including the range of products available and how polythene film is manufactured, please visit:

PackagingKnowledge: The online knowledge site for the polythene packaging industry, containing loads of articles and tonnes of useful information on polythene film.

Goldstork: Free 'best-of-the-web' directory featuring hand-picked information and specialist websites dealing in polythene film.

PlasticBags.uk.com: The definitive UK polythene packaging directory, where retailers can list items for free and shoppers can browse a selection of polythene film websites.

Polythene rolls or plastic rolls?

The terms 'polythene rolls' and 'plastic rolls' - along with polythene film, poly rolls, builders rolls, plastic sheeting and more - are often used to describe the same thing, whilst each single term is sometimes used to describe a range of polythene products. All terms refer to a roll of polythene - or plastic - that unrolls to produce a large sheet that can be cut to size, depending on the job in hand.

Although often the terms are used in their broadest sense, most people working in the trade use the term 'polythene rolls' to describe sheets of thinner polythene used to wrap items - such as shrink wrap, layflat tubing or glossy polypropylene wrapping - whilst the term 'plastic rolls' refers to thicker sheets of plastic - commonly known as builders rolls or wide plastic sheeting - used to cover or protect items during building work or painting and decorating. Alongside these, even thicker damp proof membrane - used to provide a damp proof course when building a new house - could also come under the term 'plastic rolls'.