Transhield vs Shrink Wrap

shrink wrap, protective packaging, Transhield

By Matt Peat

Many manufacturers rely on shrink wrap as their go-to covering solution for equipment assets during transportation and storage.  Shrink wrap is cheap and readily available, making it a convenient option for asset protection. However convenient, shrink wrap has many pitfalls that make it a less than dependable solution. If you’ve ever been let down by the performance of shrink wrap, Transhield may be a viable replacement to consider.  

Because of the similarity in appearance, Transhield often gets lumped into the same category as shrink wrap. However, there are several differences that set Transhield apart from ordinary shrink film that should be considered: material properties, installation, accessories, appearance, and price. 

trans-wrap

 

MATERIAL PROPERTIES

First, let’s start with the materials themselves. Shrink wrap is a single layer of polymer plastic and, depending on the thickness, can be very malleable, lightweight, and easy to handle. Transhield is a three-layer fabric with varying degrees of thickness. The outer layer is polyethylene; the middle layer is a hot melt adhesive; and the inner layer is a soft nonwoven material.  

Now we’ll compare shrink wrap and Transhield across several material properties that relate to the quality of protection they provide: anti-condensation, abrasiveness, and strength.  

Anti-Condensation:  Anti-condensation is important in preventing moisture buildup underneath the material. Moisture buildup can lead to mold and mildew and can also cause rust and corrosion if left unchecked. 

  • Shrink wrap: Not anti-condensating, holds moisture underneath material, low water vapor transmission rate  
  • Transhield: Anti-condensating, absorbs and wicks away moisture from equipment, high water vapor transmission rate  

Abrasiveness: This is the tendency of a material to etch and scratch the surface it’s covering. If a material is highly abrasive, it can cause significant cosmetic damage to decals and painted surfaces. This surface degradation also speeds up corrosion. Transhield measures abrasiveness through a modified ASTM D-2486 testing method.   

  • Shrink wrap: Very abrasive – single sided polyethylene film will grate on delicate surfaces, especially when the shrink wrap formula uses mineral additives 
  • Transhield: Not abrasive – soft nonwoven underside prevents etching and scratching, protects against gel coats and class A automotive finishes 

Strength:  This property measures the point at which a material will elongate (stretch), break under load, and puncture. The strength of a material is critical to determining its durability and reliability. Transhield measures strength through multiple ASTM tests.   

  • Shrink wrap: Low to medium strength 
  • Transhield: Very strong, tests well across the ASTM test methods. Transhield’s tear resistance is close to six times stronger than ordinary shrink wrap and its puncture resistance is about 25% better due to the inner layer.  

Installation

Transhield is a single-piece cover, whereas shrink wrap comes as a rolled good and must be installed piece by piece at the end of the production process. Transhield is made to fit the exact shape and dimensions of the piece of equipment being covered, making it much more intuitive to install. With shrink wrap’s laborious installation process, you’re often depending on the skill of the person installing it; if they are not well trained, you’re more likely to have a packaging failure.  

To put things in perspective, we’ll cover the basic steps of installing Transhield on a piece of equipment versus the standard way of installing shrink wrap: 

Shrink wrap 

  1. Prep unit – Pad any sharp corners and extruding elements to prevent holes being poked through the shrink wrap. Clean the unit to eliminate any moisture buildup, and dust/dirt/debris abrasion. 
  2. Measure unit – Take the length, width, and height dimensions of the equipment. 
  3. Cut shrink wrap – Cut out segments of shrink wrap that will be adequate to cover the equipment. 
  4. Apply shrink wrap – Secure the cut segments of shrink wrap onto the equipment; weld adjoining shrink wrap segments together using a heat tool. 
  5. Weld bottom shrink wrap (for full enclosure) – Using a heat tool, go around the perimeter of the shrink wrap until unit is fully encapsulated (equipment must be placed on top of a layer of shrink wrap).
    1. 5a.Tape around perimeter – For units not to be fully enclosed, tape around the base of the equipment, sealing the shrink wrap applied in Step 4. Do this at least 2-3 times.
  6. Heat shrink – Heat shrink from the bottom of the shrink wrap to the top, section by section.
  7. Tape seams – To strengthen the seams, go over all the heat welded joints with 1-2 layers of tape. For full enclosure shrink wrap jobs, tape the bottom perimeter seam 2-3 times. 
  8. Install accessories – This is only if your shrink wrap protection requires zipper door access, lifting lug points, vents, etc.  
  9. Inspect – Make sure all seams are taped, the perimeter seam is taped multiple times, any burn holes are taped, etc. 
  10. Label (optional) – Apply any material handling indicators, ID numbers, product logos etc. 

Transhield

  1. Prep unit – Pad any sharp corners and extruding elements to prevent holes being poked through the shrink wrap. Clean the unit to eliminate any moisture buildup, and dust/dirt/debris abrasion.
  2. Install cover – Unbox cover, unroll, and drape the cover over unit. Tighten the perimeter rope of cover through pre-installed winch strap mechanism.  
  3. Heat shrink – Heat shrink the cover, bottom to top, section by section. 
  4. Reinforce cover (optional) – Tape corners and other ware points to prevent cover from tearing. 
  5. Inspect – Make sure cover is drawn down tight, vulnerable areas are reinforced, and any burn holes are taped. 
  6. Label (optional) – Apply any material handling indicators, ID numbers, product logos etc. 

Overall, Transhield is much faster to install than shrink wrap due to its custom-fit nature – reducing installation time by as much as 50%. It’s as simple as draping the cover, tightening, and then heat shrinking – no piecing together required. Quicker packaging means adding speed to your production, increasing throughput and preventing bottlenecks. 

 

PACKAGING ACCESSORIES

Packaging accessories can be extremely useful, and for some pieces of equipment, necessary. Things like vents, zipper door access, Velcro flaps, lifting lugs, inspection windows, and tie-downs ensure the protective packaging is more functional and ergonomic for end users and material handlers.  

Shrink wrap
Accessories on shrink wrap must be installed after the shrink wrap has been applied. This can add significant installation time, and increase the risk of damaging the material, depending on the skill of the installer. Furthermore, shrink wrapping requires a lot of tape to secure and reinforce seams to maintain the fit of the wrap. The bigger the piece of equipment, the more tape you’re going to use, which adds to cost.  

Transhield 
With Transhield, all cover accessories can come pre-installed. This fact, paired with the thickness and strength of the material, also means using substantially less tape than with shrink wrap which overall speeds up installation and cuts down on cost.

 

Appearance

From a distance, Transhield and shrink wrap look very similar, however when you get closer, some differences can be distinguished. First, Transhield has a brighter white appearance than most standard shrink wrap because of the glacier white, UV-blocking material formula (which also helps with UV deflection). Second, because Transhield is a sewn or welded together cover – not patched and taped together like shrink wrap – it has a more professional look.

 

Price

Of course, the question we always get when compared to shrink wrap is how much does Transhield cost? When comparing strictly material costs, Transhield is more expensive than shrink wrap. However, when you consider the labor time saved during installation, cost of accessories spared (tape, etc.), and the superior quality of protection for your equipment, Transhield is a cost-effective alternative to shrink wrap.   


Choosing a cover solution often comes down to upfront price and convenience. For these reasons, many manufacturers tend toward using cheap shrink wrap, but that can lead to extra labor costs during installation, and product repair or replacement, counteracting – and often exceeding – those initial savings.

The importance of selecting a cover solution that eliminates those later-stage cost risks can’t be overstated. Investing in Transhield as your go-to cover solution not only gives you superior protection while saving you time and money in the long run, but it also provides a level of quality that adds value to your entire shipping and storage process – from factory floor to your end customers.

To learn more about how Transhield cover solutions can help make your processes as cost-effective as possible, get in touch with us today.

 

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