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If you’re new to the packaging industry and shrink wrapping, the terminology used by packaging professionals and sellers can take some time and research to understand. The following article will highlight some of the common terms and language used in the industry, which should assist those new to the machinery and product, with future conversations, instructions of use and dealings.

An open dictionary.

Angel Hair

Angel hair is the term used to describe the thin strands of the product that occasionally appear on the shrink wrapping machinery and on the role of shrink wrap (at the cut end) after the heat sealing process. This is a common result and is nothing to worry about as it is how the product reacts to the heat and cut.



Although ballooning can happen, it is best to be avoided where possible. As the term suggests, ballooning is air that is trapped within the shrink. For many products, this cannot be left. For example, food is shrink wrapped to increase the shelf life, if there is air left in the packaging, it can allow faster deterioration of the product.



The term blocking simply refers to when two layers of shrink wrap cling and remain attached to one another. Shrink wrap can be used in single or multiple layers. The multiple layers help to produce a padded effect; this is sometimes referred to as a bob-sheet.


Burn Through

Film can occasionally become burnt or clouded in the shrink machine if the temperature is not maintained at the optimum. By following instructions and taking recommendations from industry specialists such as us here at Kempner, this can be avoided.



The core is the tube which can be found in the centre of the shrink wrap roll. The shrink wrap is rolled onto the core during the creation of the roll.



Much like the term used to describe wrinkles around the eyes, crows-feet, in the shrink-wrapping industry relates to the wrinkles which form around the package’s corners.



The triangular, unshrunk film at the corners of the shrink-wrapped items are called dog-ears. Usually, these are cut off to improve the appearance of the product.



Gauge is used to describe the thickness of the shrink wrap. For example: 150 gauge shrink film.


Lap Seal

A lap seal is when two layers of shrink wrap overlay one another to form a seal.



Selvage is the term used to describe the waste that is removed from the product after it has been shrink wrapped. This is usually the over trim or the dog-ears.



The term shrink related to the ability to become smaller, in either size or amount, or both.



Static in the shrink-wrapping industry, relates to the charge built up in the shrink wrap. This can occasionally give individuals a static shock.


Tear Initiation

This relates to the pounds of force that is required to tear the wrap. Depending on the product you are wrapping, it will define the required level of tear initiation. For example, food that is shrink wrapped may have a lower level of tear initiation that that of wrapped timber or pharmaceuticals.



The shrink film can be wrapped onto the core in two directions. The direction of the wind gives users an indication of this direction.


Are there any terms that we have missed? Let us know via our social media channels!