Category Archive: Packaging Services

What Plastic Is Used in Shrink Wrapping?

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For more than 40 years, Econo-Pak has provided customers with top-quality packaging materials for a diverse range of applications. As a trusted supplier of quality materials, we offer shrink wrapping materials suitable for packaging and protecting a countless array of products.

Three primary types of shrink wrapping exist for various applications in the shipping and retail industries, among others. These include polyolefin (POF), polyethylene (PE), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Each type of material comes with unique properties and benefits.

What Is Plastic Shrink Wrap Made Of?

The three types of shrink wrap materials offer different advantages that make them compatible with various applications. The following are the specific characteristics of each:

PVC Shrink Wrap

While PVC shrink wrap used to be the most popular shrink packaging material used for many applications, in recent years, its lack of sustainability and potential health hazards have made it less common than POF and PE shrink wrap materials. However, many applications still use it across multiple industries, with these materials composing the following:

  • Clamshell packaging
  • Blister packaging
  • Bagging
  • And other packaging materials

POF Shrink Wrap

POF shrink wrap is considerably safer than PVC shrink wrap and offers superior versatility and durability compared to other shrink wrap materials. Its food-safe nature has led the FDA to approve it for use in many applications. POF shrink wrap consists of polyolefin, which provides reliable protection for a wide variety of products, including those with an irregular shape. This material is also cost-effective and puncture-resistant, further contributing to its popularity.

PE Shrink Wrap

For applications requiring more flexibility than polyolefin shrink wrap but with the same level of durability, PE shrink wrap offers a dependable alternative. Polyethylene is a kind of polyolefin with added ethylene that allows for increased flexibility, making it ideal for shrink wrap and stretch wrap materials. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are available, with the increased durability and strength of LDPE offering more reliability for shrink wrap materials.

The Difference Between Shrink Wrap and Stretch Wrap

Although people often confuse plastic shrink wrap and stretch wrap because of their similar appearance, they each feature unique properties that result in differences in performance. In shrink wrap applications, packaging equipment places a thin film of PE over one or more products. The system then applies heat to the film, causing it to shrink over the items and forming a protective seal that’s resistant to tampering and tears. Stretch wrap applications, on the other hand, rely on a different type of formulation to allow for enhanced stretching.

Stretch wrap offers elastic memory and self-clinging capabilities to form a tight protective layer around products. It’s often used for unitizing or palletizing several products on pallets to keep them stable during transport. Another key difference between shrink and stretch wrap is the stretch limit before breakage occurs. For shrink wrap, this limit is a 50-75% stretch while stretch wrap can stretch to around 100-300% before breaking.

Why Polypropylene Is Less Used for Shrink Wrapping

Many applications forgo the use of polypropylene for shrink wrapping due to its increased hardness compared to other materials. Additionally, shrinking polypropylene leads to decreased stability and it has a higher melting temperature than other more reliable materials.

Shrink Wrap Products from Econo-Pak

If you need high-quality shrink wrap materials for your application, it’s important to determine which material is best suited for your project. Depending on what you need, Econo-Pak can help you select the right solution.

Reach out to the experts at Econo-Pak by emailing us for more information or calling us at 570.296.0350. If you would like to get started on a project with us, request a quote today.

What Materials Are Used in Flow Wrapping?

Econo-Pak is a contract packaging service provider specializing in the creation of functional and attractive packaging solutions for food, pharmaceutical, retail, and specialty applications. Our packaging services include flow wrapping, a continuous, high-speed packaging process that encloses products in a clear or printed film.

During the flow wrapping process, a conveyor belt moves the product horizontally to the forming area. The product is then wrapped in film and sealed at both ends by applying pressure, heat, or a combination of both. Similar to vertical form fill seal (VFFS) methods, the finished result is a flexible pouch secured by airtight crimp-sealed ends.

What Materials are Used with Flow Wrapping? flow wrapping

The flow wrapping process is compatible with the same types of materials used in VFFS methods. When choosing a material for a packaging application, it is important to prioritize product safety and quality while considering the type of packaging aesthetic that will best promote the brand and engage the target consumer. Common flow wrap packaging materials include:

  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET): A member of the polyester family, PET is a durable and transparent thermoplastic polymer resin. This lightweight yet strong packaging material is ideal for protecting items from their surroundings while allowing the consumer to view the enclosed product.
  • Polyethylene (PE): PE, a type of polyolefin resin, is the most widely used consumer plastic today. This transparent, glossy material makes an attractive and protective package that maintains the integrity and freshness of the product during transportation and on the store shelf.
  • Metalized film: Metalized films are metal-coated polymer films with a shiny metallic appearance. In food packaging applications, these films offer reliable protection against water and oxygen permeation while conveying a high-end aesthetic.
  • Poly film: Poly film is a thin, transparent polymeric packaging material that prevents contamination and extends the product’s shelf life.
  • Polypropylene: Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer in the polyolefin family. This clear, glossy material is suitable for packaging everything from sensitive pharmaceutical and medicinal products to perishable food items.

How Does Flow Wrapping Work?

While the flow wrapping process can be customized for various applications and materials, all flow wrapping machines generally consist of the same elements:

  • Film rolls
  • Infeed conveyor system
  • Film feed assembly
  • Forming area
  • Delivery area

These elements work together to continuously transport, wrap, seal, and discharge the packaged products. Individual steps of the flow wrapping process include:

  • Process initiation: The unwrapped products are placed on the infeed conveyor belt, where they are transported to the forming area.
  • Wrapping: The flow wrapping machine wraps the product in the sealing material and mates the two outer edges of the material.
  • Sealing: Two rotating fin seal wheels form a longitudinal seal along the mated edges using heat, pressure, or a combination of both.
  • Cutting: Using rotating cutting heads or end seal crimpers, both ends of the adjoined packages are simultaneously sealed and cut to produce several individual packages.
  • Delivery: The packaged products are transported to the discharged area.

What Types of Products Are Ideal for Flow Wrap Packaging?

Compatible with a wide range of product shapes and sizes, flow wrap packaging can be used for essentially any solid item that can be transported along a horizontal conveyor belt. Small granular items or liquid products are generally better suited for vertical packaging techniques that allow the product to be dropped into the package.

Examples of commonly flow-wrapped items include:

  • Candy and confectionery products
  • Snack foods
  • Dry products such as pasta, rice, and seeds
  • Produce
  • Meat, poultry, and seafood
  • Pharmaceutical and medicinal items
  • Industrial products such as tools and hardware
  • Personal care items and cosmetics

Custom Flow Wrapping Services at Econo-Pak

Flow wrapping is a versatile and efficient packaging process suitable for a wide range of product types and sizes. At Econo-Pack, our flow wrapping capabilities and other packaging services allow us to create functional and visually engaging packaging solutions that maintain product quality and freshness while enhancing brand visibility. As demonstrated by our long-term partnerships with several industry-leading companies, clients trust us to consistently deliver the highest-quality products with unbeatable turnaround times and competitive pricing.

To learn more about our flow wrapping services and other packaging capabilities, please request a quote or contact us at:

Address:

35 Route 6 & 209
Milford, PA 18337
Phone: 570.296.0350

Flexible Food Packaging: What You Need To Know

Flexible packaging has significantly grown in popularity in the food and beverage industry. Due to its many benefits, it is often the packaging of choice for various food products on a domestic and global level.

Flexible Food Packaging

Flexible Food Packaging: What You Need To Know

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By using non-rigid materials to package food, manufacturers are better able to customize the container to fit the product and the brand. Flexible packaging is available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, and it can be created in either formed or unformed configurations. Formed packaging is pre-shaped and can be filled and sealed in-house, whereas unformed packaging comes on a roll that is sent to co-packers for forming and filling.

Types of flexible packaging include:

  • Sample Pouches. These small heat-sealed packets are usually pre-formed for easy in-house packing and filling.
  • Printed Pouches. These are sample pouches that have been customized with branding information for marketing purposes.
  • Sachets. These flat packets are common for single-use pharmaceuticals and personal care products. They are also ideal for sample sharing in-store and at trade shows.
  • Printed Roll Stock. These arrive in an unformed roll that is already printed with product and branding information. The co-packer forms, fills, and seals them.
  • Stocks Bags. Stock bags are blank formed bags or pouches. They can be used as-is or you can add a label with branding and product information.

Flexible food packaging materials can be used to package a wide range of products, including:

  • Baby Food
  • Chocolate and Candy
  • Beef Jerky
  • Crackers, Cookies, and Snacks
  • Grains and Flour
  • Baking Mixes and Dry Foods
  • Cereal and Granola
  • Vegetables, Fruits, and Nuts
  • Cheese and Meat Products
  • Popcorn
  • Seasonings and Spices
  • Soups, Sauces, and Salad Dressings

Flexible containers offer incredible versatility and flexibility. This is important in the food and beverage industry as companies strive to differentiate their products in a competitive space while ensuring the items stay fresh and protected from damage.

Benefits of Flexible Food Containers

Flexible packaging offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Consumers Love It. Flexible packaging is extremely consumer-friendly. Upright flexible pouches make it easy to access snacks or baking ingredients, while resealable packaging ensures freshness, prevents spills, and keeps out contaminants.
  • Simplified Shipping and Handling. Lightweight flexible packaging is easier and more cost-effective to transport. This not only helps you save money but also reduces your carbon footprint due to less fuel consumption.
  • Customizable Barrier Properties. Custom films and other barrier materials can protect your product from light, air, or moisture.
  • Good for Branding. From custom graphics that highlight your brand to clear windows that allow consumers to see the product inside, flexible containers are easily customized for effective branding. 
  • Environmentally Friendly. The amount of greenhouse gases used to produce flexible packaging is lower compared to producing traditional packaging materials. 
  • Increased Shelf Life and Freshness. Barriers and resealable openings keep out UV light, moisture, dust, and more to ensure the product stays fresher, longer.
  • Lower Production Costs. Flexible packages are easier to form and require less material than rigid packages, reducing production time, waste, and energy consumption. 

Flexible Packaging Industries

Along with the food and beverage industry, many other industries benefit from using flexible packaging. These include:

  • Cosmetics. Resealable packages can be used for cotton pads and make-up removing wipes while flexible sample pouches can be used for foundation, concealer, lotion, and serum. 
  • Personal Care. Sample pouches are ideal for single-use medications and personal products. 
  • Household Cleaning. Flexible packaging offers an ideal solution for single-use detergent packets, cleaning powder, and more.
  • Pet Food Packaging. Flexible pouches and packages are suitable for containing dog food and treats.

Flexible Packaging from Econo-Pak

For more than 30 years, Econo-Pak has specialized in contract packaging, with a focus on becoming the premier food repackaging company in the country. Over the years, our family-owned and operated company has partnered with clients both large and small, including Fortune 500 companies and independent firms, in a range of industries. With 240,000 square feet of production space and over 200 different packaging machines, we can offer packaging solutions to meet your specifications, no matter the size or scope.

To learn more about our flexible packaging capabilities for the food and beverage industry, request a quote today. 

Flow Wrapping vs. Overwrapping

Flow Wrapping Vs Overwrapping
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There are many types of packaging methods available, each of which is suitable for different packaging needs. Flow wrapping and overwrapping are two of the most commonly employed by industry professionals for consumer goods. The following blog post provides an overview of the flow wrapping and overwrapping processes, outlining what they entail, unique benefits, and typical applications.

Understanding the Processes

Despite their similarity in name, flow wrapping and overwrapping are distinct packaging techniques; they package different types of products, employ different equipment, and achieve different functions. Below we describe each process and the differences between them.

An Overview of Flow Wrapping

Flow wrapping, also sometimes referred to as pillow pouch wrapping, horizontal bagging, and fin-seal wrapping, is a horizontal-motion packaging process used to cover products—with any geometric shape—in clear or custom-printed polypropylene film. The finished package is a flexible packet featuring a crimped seal on each end.

The flow wrapping process employs the use of flow wrapping machines, which are designed and manufactured to package a wide range of products to achieve varying aesthetic looks and feels. Using these machines, the following operations occur:

  1. Placement of the products on an infeed conveyor belt
  2. Transportation of the products to the forming area
  3. Wrapping of the product(s) with sealing material
  4. Mating of the outer edges of the material along the bottom
  5. Creation of a tight seal between the mated edges using pressure, heat, or both
  6. Movement of the products through rotating cutter edges or end seal crimpers to seal both ends and separate individual packets from one another
  7. Discharge of the packaged products for storage and/or further packaging operations

An Overview of Overwrapping

over wrappingIn contrast to flow wrapping, overwrapping is only used to wrap and seal products with flat sides—such as boxes, cartons, and trays—in heat sealable film. The end result is a packaged product wrapped and sealed, much like a gift. The process is suitable for adding secondary packaging over already packaged products to preserve freshness and combining individually packaged products together.

Similar to flow wrapping, overwrapping makes use of specialized equipment—i.e., overwrapping machines. These machines perform the following operations:

  1. Pushing the product through heat sealable film cut from a larger roll
  2. Folding the film around the product
  3. Heat sealing the film at the overlapping sections
  4. Forming the envelope-like ends with shaped plates and sealing them using heated plates or belts
  5. Discharging the packaged products for storage and/or further packaging operations

Differences Between Flow Wrapping and Overwrapping

When deciding between the flow wrapping and overwrapping for a packaging operation, it is important to keep in mind their differences. For example, flow wrapping accommodates products of all shapes, while overwrapping is suitable only for products with flat sides. Additionally, flow wrapping is used to protect products from damage and degradation, while overwrapping allows for the combination of multiples packages into a single unit for easier storage and delivery.

Which Method Should You Choose?

Both flow wrapping and overwrapping offer unique advantages, but there are times when it’s clearly best to use one over the other. Below we outline some of the key benefits and applications of each packaging technique.

Benefits and Applications of Flow Wrap Packaging

Some of the benefits of using the flow wrapping method to package products include:

  • Broad size tolerance: Flow wrapping accommodates a variety of product shapes and sizes.
  • Airtight seals: The seals formed by the flow wrapping process keep out air and moisture to preserve the freshness of the packaged products, resulting in longer shelf lives.
  • Easy set-up operations: With flow wrapping machines, it’s easy to adjust for different product parameters, including in regard to size and shape.

For the above reasons, among others, flow wrapping is widely used across industry. It is often used by the food and beverage, medical, pharmaceutical, and tool and hardware industries to package their goods, such as candy bars, baked goods, soaps, lotions, and duct tape.

Benefits and Applications of Overwrap Packaging

Overwrapping offering many manufacturing advantages, such as:

  • Versatility: Overwrapping can be used in several ways, including serving as the primary packaging for the products, as a method of bundling separate products into a single multi-pack unit, or as further protection for already packaged products.
  • Attractiveness: Overwrapping creates a sleek packaged look.
  • Tamper-proofing: As overwrapping requires specialized equipment to apply correctly, it’s obvious if it has been tampered with or removed.
  • Compound control: Overwrapping keeps out contaminants (allowing for longer shelf life) and keeps in internal compounds (helping contain strong odors).

Many consumer industries make use of overwrapping. Some of the most common include the food and beverage, healthcare, and personal care industries, which use the process to package goods such as frozen meat, boxes of tea, paper towels, cold medicine, and lipstick.

In Need of Expert Contract Packaging Services?

Flow wrapping and overwrapping each have their place in packaging operations, and, at Econo-Pak, we are well-versed in both methods. We have over three decades of experience and more than 200 different packaging machines, both of which we leverage to provide customers with top-notch customer service. Accommodating quantities from one to one billion, we can fulfill virtually any size order.

For more information about our packaging capabilities, contact us today. For pricing details, request a quote.