Skip to main content

Shrink wrapping and shrink bundling are both important parts of the packaging business, but are often confused with one another. In this article, we break down their differences as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

What is Shrink Bundling?

Man manually shrink wrapping boxes

Shrink bundling is making a single bundle or ‘pack’ out of a large number of products. A shrink bundle is typically placed in a tray or on a pad, though can be done unsupported. The pack, once set, is then run through a heat tunnel to wrap the product, usually on four sides, with polyolefin shrink film to hold the product together for shipping.


What is the Difference Between Shrink Bundling and Shrink Wrapping?

Boxes in a warehouse wrapped in shrink wrap.

Shrink wrapping involves applying a heat-shrinkable polyolefin shrink film all around a product to cover all surface areas. Unlike paper wrapping, the wrap is heat-shrinkable; and unlike shrink bundling, shrink wrap covers all areas of the product.

Shrink bundling is very similar to shrink wrapping. You completely cover much of the product but often leave open spaces on two ends of the bundle. Usually, the open space is left on the top and the bottom of the product. They are known as the ‘bullseyes’.

Shrink wrapping generally produces a product ready for retail display. The high-quality polyolefin shrink film can display the product cleanly and provide added value to make it look nicer; shrink bundling is more often used for items which are less fragile and when you are not concerned how the product looks when wrapped in film – such as bottles of water travelling by freight that will be unwrapped when they arrive at a wholesaler or port.


What are the Advantages of Shrink Bundling?

Metal Drums protected by Shrink Wrap

Automatic shrink bundling equipment, particularly switching to a bundling system from a non-shrinkwrap alternative, can reduce pressure on bottlenecks in production lines and free up labour and resources. Polyolefin shrink film is much cheaper than corrugated cardboard or chipboard, making it a practical choice for manufacturers looking to reduce costs without sacrificing quality and security. Compared to shrink wrap, the main advantage of shrink bundling is the slightly lower costs. As you do not wrap as much of the product, bundling with polyolefin shrink film instead of wrapping is slightly more cost-effective.

Shrink bundling equipment is also very mobile, able to be brought from one packaging line to another, or even able to be configured to deal with multiple product lines at once. There are a wide variety of fully automated shrink wrap and shrink bundle machines with infeed collation and exit conveyors.


What Are the Disadvantages of Shrink Bundling?

Pallets of shrink wrapped bottles

Compared to shrink wrap, shrink bundling is very unattractive for consumers. The wrap is rarely as tight and creates imperfection in how the product is presented.

In addition, if the product is very fragile or likely to be handled roughly in transit, then the ‘bullseyes’ can create a risk that the product might be damaged. If the product needs to be enclosed entirely, then shrink wrapping is more naturally suited to fully surrounding and protecting a package more effectively.


Should I Shrink Bundle or Shrink Wrap my Products?

Warehouse with multi-tier racking

Shrink bundling is mostly used for wrapping multiple products together, so they are in one single easily transferrable unit – in fewer words, to unitise multiples. Shrink bundling does not look attractive to consumers, so when appearance is a concern, then polyolefin shrink film is the best solution.

By contrast, if you merely need to unitise multiples, then shrink bundling is typically cheaper than shrink wrapping and should be used. That said, whether this is the case or not depends on your circumstance.

If you have already used shrink wrap on your products – for example, if you have fresh cuts of ham shrink wrapped individually to plastic trays – then shrink bundling is cheaper and more effective than re-shrinkwrapping your multiples into a single unit.

Finally, if you do not care how your product looks in shrink wrap but need the product to be wholly enclosed while travelling to ensure security, then shrink wrapping is usually the best option.


If you are still not sure whether you should opt for shrink wrap or shrink bundling, please get in touch, and our experts will be happy to help. With over forty years accumulated knowledge in presentation shrink wrap and shrink wrap machinery, we can help you find exactly what you need to meet your requirements.