Any company wants to keep its products fresh, and in good condition, for as long as possible. Doing so helps to improve customer satisfaction and decrease the amount of waste. Using packaging for this purpose is important. Vacuum packaging and shrink wrapping are both used for this purpose, with vacuum packaging being used most often in the food industry, and shrink wrapping being used for the packaging of clothing and other non-consumable items. Both types of packaging are applied to keep products safe, before selling to customers.

Many people think of wrapping as all being similar. However, there are differences between vacuum packaging and shrink wrapping which account for their different applications. The different types of packaging may look the same when they are wrapped around products but they are actually very different. It's important for businesses to be aware of the differences and decide which type of packaging best suits their needs.

Thickness of wrapping material

Shrink wrapping and vacuum packaging start with a similarity. They both involve the use of plastic polymer film. This film can be found in both a roll and as bags and is usually transparent, although non-transparent film is used in some circumstances. The difference between the film that is used for the two types of packaging is that the film used for vacuum packing is around four times thicker than the film used for shrink wrapping. This is a significant difference and the film that is used is not interchangeable.

Same use of heat, different process

Heat is used for packaging items using either vacuum packaging or shrink wrapping, but the similarity ends there. The machinery and processes that are used are completely different. Machinery that has been designed for vacuum packing food items cannot be used to shrink wrap clothing. This means that companies have to decide on which type of wrapping they wish to use and invest in the appropriate type of machinery. If both types of wrapping were to be used the investment in machinery would be significantly increased.

The way oxygen is dealt with

It often seems as though the oxygen is completely removed whether items are shrink wrapped or vacuum packed. It looks as though this is the case to the untrained eye that sees rows of uniformly packaged products on several different shelves, in various areas of the store. However, all is not what it seems. Oxygen is dealt with very differently during the vacuum packaging process than it is during the shrink wrapping process.

Vacuum packaging involves the use of pressure to remove virtually all of the oxygen, during the packaging process. This type of packaging is especially useful when consumable products are involved. It helps to preserve the product and extend its shelf life. This helps to decrease the amount of waste that occurs. It also means that customers benefit from being able to buy food items in bulk; often this reduces cost to the consumer. The food industry uses vacuum packaging to wrap consumable products.

When products are shrink wrapped, any oxygen that is present is initially trapped inside. This situation obviously has to be resolved. This is done by placing tiny holes in the wrapping so that the oxygen can escape. This type of wrapping does provide some protection but not at the same level as vacuum packaging. For instance, it could not be used to extend the shelf life of food products. For this reason, the shrink wrapping process is usually used when non-consumable products are involved, such as when delicate clothing items are displayed in store.

Vacuum packaging and shrink wrapping can both be effective choices when it comes to packaging products. However, they have very different qualities from each other. Vacuum packaging is used to protect the food products that are seen on supermarket shelves every day. Shrink wrapping is useful for packaging items such as clothing where a different level of protection is required. Companies have to decide which is the best solution for them based on the type of products that they produce and sell. It could be the case that multi-functional companies require both types of packaging. If this is the case, they have to invest in two completely different sets of machinery and use separate processes. Most companies use one type of packaging, one set of machinery and one process that is suited to the protection of their products.