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Machine Stretch Wrap or Hand Stretch Film. What should you use?

Stretch Film or Pallet Wrap has one of the most versatile uses in product manufacturing, packaging, and transportation. It is used for wrapping products during transport and provides containment for loads of different shapes and sizes. But with various types of stretch film out there, which should you use? 


awesome pack machine clear pallet wrap


Machine stretch wrap and hand stretch film are the two most popular types of stretch film. However, both types have specific applications, strengths, and limitations. This article will explain the difference between the two, so you can know which is better for your industrial need. 

What is a stretch film? 

Stretch wraps are made from linear low-density polyethylene. The material has high elastic recovery; hence, it tightly wraps around items and ensures safe transport. Not only this, but it is available in different widths, thicknesses, and types. 


The popular types of stretch films are: 

  • Machine stretch film 
  • Hand stretch film 
  • Cast stretch film 
  • Blown stretch film 
  • Pre-stretch film 
  • Colour stretch film 


With different types to choose from, one of the most crucial things to consider is the containment force of the wrap. Besides quality, the wrong containment force can damage your goods. As a result, machine and hand wraps have the most application. 

What is Machine Stretch Film/Pallet Wrap? 

Machine films are designed for use on a stretch wrapping machine. The films fit onto semi-automatic and automatic machines and come in larger rolls than hand films, which weighs between 14-18kg each roll. Thanks to a larger capacity, the users don’t need to worry about overextending or injuring themselves from lifting the rolls. The wraps are available in different thicknesses and stretch rates, ranging from 150-gauge thickness to 250% stretch rate. We at Awesome Pack have Both Clear Machine Pallet Wrap or Black Machine Pallet Wrap which has great stretch rate, a premium thickness of 25um and best of all 1500m in length so you get plenty of usage out of it.


Machine films are longer and have a higher stretch rate than hand wraps since they are designed for use in a stretch wrapping system. They are often used in machines like the rotary ring, orbital, turntable, or ring straddle stretch wrapper. Because of its industrial design, the wrap ensures a more consistent packing, less waste, and less damage during shipment. 

What is Hand Stretch Film/Pallet Wrap? 

Hand stretch film is the opposite of machine stretch wraps. Unlike the latter, where wrapping is done using a machine, the former is designed for human labour. Therefore, you cannot use a stretch wrap machine for a hand film. Instead, it is manually designed for use with a stretch wrap dispenser. Hand wraps are shorter, lighter, and often range from 200 to 400 metres long. A standard 80-gauge wrap has a 75 – 150% stretch rate, and you can explore multiple thicknesses based on the item you wish to package. We at Awesome Pack have both Clear Hand Pallet Wrap and Black Hand Pallet Wrap which provide stretch for users who want to pallet their pallet by hand, have the same 25 micron thickness as the machine pallet wraps and same width at 500mm but with a shorter than of 400 metres so you can easily apply the wrap by hand.


Hand stretch film is best used for lower-capacity packaging that requires a slow turnaround so not the best for wrapping larger quantities and is not optimal for businesses that wrap more than 4 pallets daily. On the upside, applying the film by hand for the hand held stretch firm is fast, and it is the more economical option of the two. 


awesome pack hand held pallet wrap

Machine Stretch Wrap or Hand Stretch Film. What should you use?


One of the most important factors you must consider before choosing a wrapping method is the cost. Can you afford a stretch wrapping machine? A quality wrapper starts at around $6,000. If you can’t afford it, hand stretch wrap is a better alternative.  

Available labour 

Hand wrapping is labour-intensive. Therefore, you must pay attention to the number of employees available and the hours they can work. In the end, labour will amount to a high cost. If the cost is higher than buying a machine, upgrade to a machine wrapper to save cost. 

Speed and durability

Hand film is designed for manual application by a worker and can be even easier when you use a hand held shrink wrap dispenser. As a result, it is naturally the slower choice of the two. In contrast, machine film is faster and, as a result, is a better choice if you’re processing a huge packaging volume. Not only this, but machine wrap is stronger than manual dispenser packaging. But you can use a hand stretch film if you don’t need to wrap packages or move them over a long distance frequently. 

Volume and pallet load size 

Pallets are often labelled with various load sizes in alphabetical order to help with differentiation. The type of pallet determines stretch wrap requirements. For example, Pallet type A refers to pallets with uniform shapes and zero puncture points. It is the easiest to wrap; hence, you can use a local gauge wrapper with minimal stress on the material’s integrity. On the other hand, Type B has several puncture points, and you require a stretch wrap with higher performance to prevent tearing during shipping. 


No two loads are the same. As a result, you must first evaluate the size and shape of your load to determine if you require a strong or high-performance wrapper to prevent damage during transit. 

Application method 

One of the mistakes people make is trying to use a hand stretch wrap on a stretch machine and vice-versa. Both sceneries will reduce the stretch rates and ultimately result in stretch wrap waste and loss of money. Not using the right application method can double or triple your overall cost. Therefore, the type of film should always correspond to the method. 

Choose a machine-stretch film if: 

  • You ship items regularly 
  • You wrap heavy pallets and packages
  • You often need to wrap pallets 
  • You need a fast and flexible solution 
  • You can bear the cost of buying a stretch machine 

Choose hand stretch wrapping if: 

  • You can’t afford a machine 
  • You don’t need to wrap packages frequently
  • You are only moving your package a short distance 
  • You can afford labour
  • You are not wrapping heavy pallets or packages 


Machine stretch wrapping is a better option than hand film because it can be stretched at a higher rate. Not only this, but it allows better load containment and is more effective per load. However, it is not the most economical option. In contrast, if you don’t wrap too many pallets daily, you can stick with hand wrap. 


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Awesome Pack Team

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