What’s the Best Gauge to Use for Shrink Wrap?

If you’re planning on using shrink film when packing your items for shipping, it’s important to consider the thickness, or gauge, of that film. There are multiple shrink wrap varieties available when you’re shopping for packaging materials and supplies in Bryan, OH, each with their own set of gauges.

When you’ve decided which kind of shrink wrap you’ll use for your application, you must then gain an understanding of how that shrink film is measured. In most cases, shrink film will be measured in mils, or thousandths of an inch (stylized as .001). Gauges are units of measurement that are frequently used for plastic, sheet metal and electrical wires. A single gauge is a hundredth of a mil, or 100 thousandths of an inch. Another unit of measurement you might come across is the micron, which is a millionth of a meter (also referred to as a “micrometer”).

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common types of shrink films and considerations for determining thickness need. Here’s some good information from a shrink wrap supplier in Bryan, OH.


This type of shrink film is most commonly used in industrial applications, and comes in thicknesses of up to 12 mils (1200 gauge). You’ll most commonly see it used for cases of bottled water, for wrapping boats, pallet shrink bags and various other industrial applications.

This type of shrink wrap will have a lower shrink rate than options like PVC or polyolefin, which means it’s ideal for printing. Marine polyethylene shrink rolls will come in thicknesses of 4 to 12 mil, and pallet shrink bags are frequently found in thicknesses of 4 to 6 mil.


PVC shrink film comes in a range of thicknesses, the most common being 75 gauge. PVC film thicknesses are generally not recommended for sharp or heavy objects. Applications in which you’ve most likely come across PVC shrink film include CD or DVD cases, boxes and other uniform objects, but not for objects that weight more 25 to 30 pounds, or for objects that are heavy and pointed. There are also PVC shrink bags that are a little thicker (usually 100 gauge) and are ideal for use as bags due to their stronger seams.

When heat is applied, you can expect the film to become hard and brittle.


Polyolefin shrink films are ideal for packaging products in various industries. Because it is food safe and FDA approved, you’ll frequently find it used for food products and in restaurants. The name literally means “oil like,” which makes sense when you touch it, as it feels waxy or oily. Common variants of polyolefin shrink wraps are available in 60, 75 and 100 gauge.

To learn more about shrink wrap and what gauge you should use for your specific product, we encourage you to contact Lamberson Packaging Solutions. We specialize in packaging materials and supplies in Bryan, OH, and would be glad to answer any questions you have for our team. We look forward to assisting you in any way possible.

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