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  • Writer's pictureIan Haywood

Shrink Wrapping vs Stretch Banding in Pharmaceuticals

In the pharmaceutical industry, both stretch banding and shrink wrapping techniques are commonly used for packaging and securing products. Each method has its advantages and considerations, depending on the specific requirements and preferences of the pharmaceutical manufacturer. Let's explore the differences between stretch banding and shrink wrapping in pharmaceutical applications:

Stretch Banding:

  1. Process: Stretch banding involves using a stretchable band or film to secure and bundle multiple items together. The band is stretched around the products and then released, causing it to contract and hold the items tightly.

  2. Visibility: Stretch banding allows for high visibility of the bundled products. This can be beneficial in pharmaceutical settings where product identification and quick visual inspection are important.

  3. Tamper-Evident: Stretch bands can be applied in a way that provides a tamper-evident seal. Any attempt to remove or manipulate the band will result in visible damage, indicating potential tampering.

  4. Flexibility: Stretch bands can accommodate varying sizes and shapes of products, allowing for flexibility in bundling different pharmaceutical items together.

  5. Cost-effective: Stretch banding can be a cost-effective packaging solution compared to other methods, as it requires minimal equipment and materials.

Shrink Wrapping:

  1. Process: Shrink wrapping involves using a plastic film that, when heated, shrinks tightly around the product, conforming to its shape. The film is typically sealed using heat or adhesive to create a secure and protective package.

  2. Protection and Containment: Shrink wrapping provides excellent protection against moisture, dust, and other external elements. It creates a sealed barrier around the product, preventing contamination and maintaining product integrity.

  3. Tamper-Evident: Shrink wrapping can offer tamper-evident features, such as a perforated tear strip or a shrink band with printed text or logos that show signs of tampering when broken.

  4. Product Presentation: Shrink wrapping can enhance the appearance of the packaged pharmaceutical products, giving them a clean and professional look. It can also provide an opportunity for branding and product information to be printed on the film.

  5. Stability: Shrink-wrapped products tend to be more stable during transportation and storage, as the film tightly conforms to the shape of the item, reducing movement and potential damage.


  1. Equipment and Infrastructure: Both stretch banding and shrink wrapping require specific equipment for application. The choice between the two methods may depend on the availability of suitable machinery and infrastructure within the pharmaceutical facility.

  2. Automation: Shrink wrapping is generally more amenable to high-speed automated packaging lines, while stretch banding may be more suitable for manual or low-volume operations.

  3. Environmental Impact: Shrink wrapping typically requires more plastic material than stretch banding, which may impact the environmental sustainability considerations of the pharmaceutical manufacturer.

  4. Regulatory Compliance: Pharmaceutical packaging must comply with various regulations regarding product safety, tamper-evident features, and labeling requirements. Manufacturers should ensure that their chosen packaging method meets these regulatory standards.

Ultimately, the selection between stretch banding and shrink wrapping in pharmaceutical applications depends on factors such as product requirements, desired presentation, tamper-evidence needs, cost considerations, and available equipment. Manufacturers should evaluate these factors to determine the most appropriate packaging solution for their specific needs.

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