What's the Difference Between Shrink Wrapping and Vacuum Packaging? | TDI PACKSYS

What's the Difference Between Shrink Wrapping and Vacuum Packaging?

You are here

vacuum pouchesShrink bags and vacuum pouches have a similar appearance, which often leads to the misconception that they are the same. Vacuum packaging and shrink wrapping, however, are two different types of packaging handled by different food packaging machines.

Similarities Between Vacuum Pouches and Shrink Wraps

  • Transparency: Shrink bags and vacuum pouches both use clear bags or plastic polymer film, allowing the consumer to see the product inside the packaging.
  • Heat Sealing: Both types of packaging are heat sealed to enclose the product within the packaging. This means that the open ends of the packages are sealed after the product is inserted.
  • Conformed Finish: In both kinds of packaging, the exterior film conforms to the shape of the product.

What Are the Differences?

  • Film Thickness: Though both vacuum packaging and shrink wrapping use a flexible film, the rolls or packaging bags used in the vacuum sealing process are much thicker than those used in shrink wrapping. Vacuum packaging film is typically three to four times thicker than most shrink wrapping materials.
  • Food Packaging Equipment: The machinery used to create the packaging are different from one another and are not interchangeable.
  • Absence of Oxygen: During the process of vacuum packaging, an air nozzle or air compressor is used to remove all of the oxygen from the package. The absence of air increases the shelf life and preserves the product inside. That is why vacuum sealers preserve food up to five times longer than regular plastic bags or containers. On the other hand, the shrink wrapping process does not involve the manual removal of oxygen. Instead, small vent holes are poked into the shrink film to facilitate the escape of the air trapped inside. These ventilation holes expose the product inside to the air outside, so the package is not completely sealed from the elements.

Ultimately, the primary difference between shrink wrapping and vacuum packaging is that shrink wrap does not produce a true vacuum seal to keep the contents protected and preserved. That's why vacuum pouches are ideal for perishable food products like meats and vegetables, while shrink wrapping is typically used for non-food items like DVDs, water bottles, and even larger products like cars and boats.