There’s a reason that the plastic packaging on your new CD or DVD or book or food can is so difficult rip open — the packaging industry is gigantic (generating $7 billion annually, and employing over 50,000 people in the U.S.) and one its main products, shrink wrap, is extremely tough.
Shrink film, more commonly known as shrink wrap, is a material composed from polymer plastic film. Applying heat to it causes it to shrink tightly over what it is covering. Methods for applying heat include passing the package through heat conveyors/tunnels, or handheld using an electric/gas handheld heat gun. There are also home devices available that allow the average to heat shrink sleeves.
Shrink wrap has many uses. The usual ones are for liquid products — there are countless types of liquid/beverage packaging. Shrink sleeves for bottles of wine and medicine are very commonplace. Shrink sleeves for bottles of medicine and wine serve tamper resistance purposes — they function as an extra layer of protection from people not authorized to ingest the substances within. Shrink sleeve labels are found on nearly every kind of bottled substance in existence, such as cleaners and mouth rinses. Non-liquid/edible products are also wrapped in shrink wrap, such as DVDs, CDs, books, boxes, cartons, and pallet loads.
Besides commercial labeling, shrink wrap is also used for environmental protection. It may seem strange that a plastic substance is used to save the environment, but it is — a very thick variety of it can be used to wrap the roofs of buildings after they have suffered damage from natural disasters. Temporary shrink wrap structures can be built for storage/other business operational uses, palletized freight can be shrink wrapped, and so can boats/other vehicles. Shrink wrap can also help facilitate the safe removal of biohazards such as asbestos.
Because shrink wrap is so versatile, it is no wonder that it has led the packing industry to such great success since its creation.