Tag Archives: office supplies

How does shrink wrap work?

Shrink wrap is one of the quickest and easiest ways to package and protect goods. What shrink wrap is used for typically is wrapping especially awkwardly shaped items – from individual packages to boxes on a pallet. It can even be used to wrap up helicopters. It is weather proof and dust proof, while the transparent option easily allows the goods underneath to be identified.Shrink wrap is so versatile it is even used to wrap up US Navy helicopters for transport (Image: Wikipedia)Shrink wrap is so versatile it is even used to wrap up US Navy helicopters for transport (Image: Wikipedia)

But what is shrink wrap made of, how does shrink wrap work and is shrink wrap recyclable? Here we answer these questions and find out how to use it on a practical level in the warehouse, using the right shrink wrap and shrink wrapping equipment to get the job done.

How does shrink wrap work?

Shrink wrap and what shrink wrap is used for covers everything from simple packaging, to holding items together, to protecting them.Shrink wrap collates and protects

How shrink wrap works is something that requires a look at the very molecules that the shrink wrap is made from. To make the plastic film that is used to shrink and wrap items, plastic polymer molecules  – long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms, essentially  – that usually all tangle round each other are heated and stretched so that they all form into straight rows. Once cooled they maintain this aligned structure.

Heating the film again, once wrapped around the goods being packaged, the molecules move about (thanks to all that lovely heat energy being pumped in) and they get all tangled again: making the film as much as 50% smaller.

The shrinking can take place in one direction (uni or monodirectional) or in both length and width (bidirectional) and requires the film to be applied over the goods using a special frame – called a tenter frame – and applying heat correctly. To do it correctly requires the right shrink wrap equipment.

What is shrink wrap?

Shrink wrap is a plastic film that can be stretched over awkwardly shaped items and heated to shrink to tightly fit its contours and crevices as if stuck to it – all without any kind of adhesive.

Shrink wrap pallet covers, film and rolls

This protective packaging comes in sheets and on rolls

So, when was shrink wrap invented? The process of heating and stretching polythene sheets and cooling them and then reversing the process was first trialled in the US as a potential packaging process in the 1960s. It was then refined and had its first commercial use in 1981 in the US.

As to who invented shrink wrap, its provenance is murky. It is claimed that the process was actually invented in the 1960’s at WR Grace and company, by Robert D. Lowry, John Dreyfuss and John W. Harrison of Winchester Massachusetts in the US. The process was then refined and rolled out for industrial use by Global Wrap LLC in the US in 1981.

What is shrink wrap made of?

The molecular structure of Polyethylene, Image: Wikipedia

The molecular structure of Polyethylene (Image: Wikipedia)

Shrink wrap is made of plastic. What type of plastic is shrink wrap made from depends on how it is to be used, but typically it is made from plastic polymer – usually low density polythene or, sometimes, PVC. It can also be made from biaxially orientated polypropylene, a more complex version of polythene. What they all have in common is that they are made of long chain molecules that, in their natural state, tangle round each other like spaghetti.

The molecular structure of Syndiotactic polypropene (Image: Wikipedia)

The molecular structure of Syndiotactic polypropene (Image: Wikipedia)

How to use shrink wrap

Shrink wrap can be used to cover all sorts of things. To use shrink wrap, you need the right plastic shrink wrap film and the right equipment: usually at the very least a heat gun. You may also need a frame to hold the film.

Perforated shrink wrap pallet covers available on a roll

When shrink wrapping pallets of goods, individual shrink wrap pallet covers are available if you want to cover standard sized pallets of goods – available as sheets and on rolls. For more awkward shapes, this protective packaging comes in rolls and sheets, which can then be wrapped or put over the goods and then heated, often with a hand-held heat gun.

How to heat shrink wrap

So, how does heat shrink wrap work? As we have seen, heating pre-stretched polymer sheets allows the ordered molecules to move about and re-order themselves as a tangle of molecules, occupying a much smaller volume and causing the sheet to shrink.

In practice, this means that putting, say, a shrink wrap pallet cover over a pallet, and heating it the cover will start to contract and pull tight over the goods.

How to use heat shrink wrap involves the following steps:

  • place goods on the pallet and loosely cover with a shrink wrap pallet cover
  • make sure it covers everything
  • gently heat with a heat gun evenly, moving round and round the pallet to ensure even shrinkage
  • when tight, stop and allow to cool.

Heat guns are relatively light and portable but must be handled with care

How to use a heat gun for shrink wrap is perhaps the hardest part of the process. It needs a specialist gun, which burns propane or butane to create a hot flame.

RIPACK 3000 heat shrink film gun kit

However, it is crucial that the flame doesn’t contact the film nor the goods being wrapped. For this reason, the flame heats a plate at the business end of the heat gun which radiates heat onto the plastic.

Carefully heat the shrink wrap from a distance to avoid damaging the film

How to recycle shrink wrap

With more attention than ever on the impact of plastic on the environment, many ask can shrink wrap be recycled? So is shrink wrap recyclable: in short it is. Being made of low density polyethylene – or polythene – means that the answer to is plastic shrink wrap recyclable is yes. Polythene is widely recycled and can be put into the recycling waste and reused.

To recycle it, simply keep it once you have removed it and either put it in the standard recycling or, if you find you have a lot of it, there are companies that will come and collect it and take it away to recycle. They will shred it and melt it down to make polythene beads which may very well end up being used to make new shrink wrap.

Want to know more about shrink wrap and shrink wrapping equipment?

For all your packaging advice, our Packaging Experts are here to help you find the right solutions. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

Game of Boxes

Game of boxes

Do you agree with who’s on the Iron Throne? Well, the Game of Thrones finale might not be how you wanted it to end, but the wheel is now broken welcoming a new age in Westeros.

We have to confess, some of us at Rajapack were also hooked on the exciting plot created by George RR Martin, and writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. We have not thought of a better way to honour it than to relive the most iconic elements with a line of packaging products that has inspired us.

Here’s your special GoT edition using our packaging range. What will be the first product you will buy for your business, your shop or your online store?

Postal tubes for Valyrian steel swordsPostal tubes for Valyrian steel swords

The Rajapack cardboard postal tubes are so strong that they can hold even the most fearsome steel swords, the only ones with which it is possible to kill the White Walkers.

These postal tubes are perfect for GoT swords such as Garra, by Jon Nieve; Guardajuramentos and Lamento de Viuda, departures from the foundry of the mythical Ice of Eddard Stark; or Poison of Heart, property of Tarly House. Even though it is not a valyrio steel weapon, we have remembered the lethal needle of Arya Stark.

Labels of hazardous materials for wild fireLabels of hazardous materials for wild fire

Wild fire is a highly flammable substance that must be handled with great care. Even though at Rajapack we do not condone ‘blowing things up’, in GoT they could do with some packaging and shipping labels, particularly hazard labels, to correctly label packages that contain it (or that contain other dangerous substances).

Book boxes for the treasures within the Citadel libraryBook boxes for the treasures within the Citadel library

In the Citadel library, all the knowledge stored by humanity over the centuries is kept safe. Each book is a real gem, and must be handled with great care so that their treasured history can live on.

Each book must be worshipped and preserved, at Rajapack we have book boxes designed for such GoT items, available in different sizes for the varied editions and volumes, complete with a magical feature; an adhesive strip that seals the box to close.

Paper and pens to ‘manage’ Arya Stark’s listPaper and pens to 'manage' Arya Stark's list

Although Arya Stark has a very good memory, we suspect that it would not hurt to have quality office supplies to write down and cross out names on her list. For this reason, the Rajapack range includes pens and notebooks that you can carry with you at all times. Reliable equipment that would be worthy to accompany Arya in her adventures.

Padded envelopes to protect messages from RavensPadded envelopes to protect messages from crows

In the Seven Kingdoms, no email or telephone exist… but there are some very reliable messengers; the raven, carriers of all kinds of news and trained to travel the distances at a supersonic speed.

So, to ensure the parchments carried by these ravens arrive in perfect condition, it would be advisable to introduce maesters to bubble envelopes. Envelopes lined with protective air filled bubbles, they are ideal for wrapping items, even the most delicate small pieces including jewels to a loved one.

So this concludes our Game of Thrones adventure, but why not journey on to Rajapack for your packaging supplies. And we have a team of Packaging Specialists available that you can call, contact us on 0800 542 44 28 or email sales@rajapack.co.uk for help and advice.

Storage solutions

The key to good warehousing is good storage solutions and organisation: and that means having the right storage bins and warehouse equipment to keep everything in the right place and making sure everyone can find what they are looking for.Warehouse storage solutions

There is a vast array of storage solutions available, from simple cardboard storage bins to plastic storage boxes that stack in neat piles. They can be shelved, wall or rack mounted, stacked, and smaller ones can often be used inside larger ones.

So what exactly is a storage container, how big are they, what are they made of and how can you use them?

What is a storage container?

A storage container is any sort of container used to keep things in and they are usually found in warehouses or offices. They can also be called storage bins and can be pretty much any shape, size, colour or material – although cardboard and plastic are favoured as they are strong and economical to mass produce – they can be used to store pretty much anything.

Storage bins come in all shapes, sizes and materials

There are storage containers that fit on shelves, on wall mounted panels or stack up on themselves; there are louvred storage bins to heavy-duty lidded crates. Whatever your storage needs, there is a storage solution for it.

There are ranges of lidded bins, both in cardboard and plastic that can handle all manner of storage and warehousing needs. From storing and protecting documents, to filing tools, nuts and bolts and a vast array of other products – you just need to remember what you have put into which bin!

How to label storage bins

Labelling storage bins is crucial for knowing just what is in each bin or container, making it clear for anyone to find what they are looking for. How to label them comes down to what you are storing in them, but a few rules of thumb apply.

If you have lots of wall mounted containers or a stack of storage bins with lids, it can help to label them either alphabetically or chronologically and keep an inventory of what, when and where items were stored.

While it is possible to write on cardboard and some plastic containers, sticky labels are ideal as they can be clearly printed on and, should the contents of that storage bin change, a new label can be stuck over the old (or the old removed and replaced with a new one).

There are also ranges of storage bins that come with plastic holders for labels, as well as ranges that feature a slot for a label, making labelling straightforward and clear.

Storage bins with plastic label holders or with a slot for a label

If your containers contain fragile or dangerous goods, then you must label them correctly. Read our guide on hazard labels that can be used to mark those up – showing everything from ‘Fragile’ to ‘This way up’ to some of the dangers that may be stored within, such as ‘Corrosive’ or “Flammable’ and so on.

What are storage containers made of?

Storage containers are made of a range of materials, but typically they are made either from cardboard or from plastic. Cardboard is typically used for lighter, and drier goods, that do not generally require special handling. Cardboard storage bins are economical, ecological and are pretty flexible as to what you can keep in it.

Cardboard storage bins are cheap, plentiful and great for lighter storage

Plastic storage containers are made from high strength polypropylene – with some even made from recycled high strength polypropylene – and come in a range of thicknesses depending on the load they are likely to carry. Plastic storage containers can hold more heavy duty products, and are more durable and resistant.

Some storage solutions are made from transparent light-grade high-strength polypropylene, convenient for people to identify the contents, especially when they are stacked. Also, clear storage bins are useful for seeing what is stored within, and are available in selected colours – which are not only pretty, but extremely useful for colour-coding the inventory contained therein.Stackable plastic storage bins

 

Other bins such as large heavy-duty stackable plastic storage bins are made from super-thick high grade high-strength polypropylene, able to take a much greater weight of contents and allowing for tall stacks. These can handle all manner of storage demands – including handling containerised liquids, some foods, chemicals and dirty or oily parts – and have an excellent longevity in use.

Some storage containers are made from polyboard: a wipe-clean, 3.5mm thick polypropylene honeycomb that is shock and chemical resistant, as well as very light and very storing. These are ideal for the storage of mechanical and electrical parts and even pharmaceuticals.

Poliboard stackable plastic storage containers

How big is a storage container?

How big a storage container is depends on a number of factors. With such a vast choice of different storage options available it is hard to pick standard sizes across the board, but within certain categories of container there are usually a range of options.

Louvred storage bins that can be stacked or wall-mounted on louvred panels, come in a range of sizes and capacities – and with capacities that depend on whether they are standalone, stacked or mounted. At Rajapack we offer these bins in 8 different sizes and come in 4 colour variants.

Stackable plastic containers are slightly more standardised. The Rajapack range offer these containers in three sizes, coming in volumes of 14, and 52 litres, from sizes 400x280x200mm, 500x350x250mm and 590x400x290mm. This allows containers of the same size to be stacked – and many have secure interlocking mouldings on the bottoms and the lids to make them more stable.

Perforated Euro plastic stacking containers – which look a lot like old-fashioned beer crates – are another plastic storage solution that come with handy handles, and which also stack and are great for anything that may need ventilation while being stored.

Perforated Euro plastic stacking containers

At Rajapack these come in nine sizes, but all based around a standard 600x400mm footprint. Some are 300x400mm and some 600x800mm, but again these are multiples of the standard size. They come in heights of 70mm, 118mm, 150mm, 235mm, 280mm, 320mm and 410mm.

Picking the right sizes for your particular need is key – not least if you want them to stack. This is why it is often a good idea to buy your whole storage solution from one supplier, so that you have commonality of sizes which can also work together.

How much does a storage container weigh?

How much a storage container weighs depends very much on its size and what it is made from. Attached lid plastic storage containers’ weight are between 3.1 and 3.6kg depending on size, while most of the others are lighter, weighing in at under a kilo each.

The weight of a storage container depends largely on what you put in it, but they all come with weight limits. That said, the high strength polypropylene containers are so strong that they can’t hold enough bulk to break them.

How wide is a storage container?

The widths of storage containers are variable, as we have seen, although families of containers often come in neat multiples of one another so that they at least tesselate when stacked or can be arranged in neat combinations on shelves or wall mounts.

Louvred containers as we have seen come in a variety of widths that allow them to be mixed and matched to fit on standard wall mounts or trolleys. In the Rajapack range, large cardboard storage bins come in widths of 440 and 835mm to fit on standardised shelving.

Stacking containers tend to have standard footprints or multiples thereof. Euro plastic stacking and nesting containers, for example, come in standard widths of 300 or 400mm and lengths of 400 or 600mm. They then offer different storage volumes based around a range of heights.

Louvre storage bins

Are plastic storage bins recyclable?

What can you do with old storage bins? Despite being tough and resilient, eventually you may need to get rid of storage bins and containers – so what can you do with them?

Cardboard storage solutions can of course simply be recycled at any recycling centre. Polypropylene (PP) containers – including polyboard – can be recycled at specialist PP recycling centres, where they are crushed, chipped and melted down. This recycled PP is then used to make more storage containers – and garden furniture, butter tubs, bottle tops and more.

Want to know more about storage containers?

For additional advice on storage solutions, our packaging experts are here to help you find the right packaging solution and arrange next day delivery. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

Spotlight on: Envelopes and Mailing Bags

If you’re a regular visitor to the Rajapack blog then you’ll know that recently we’ve been focusing on new developments in packaging; product launches, the latest technology, and new packaging processes that are all making packaging more efficient and eco-friendly.

This week, we’ve decided to go back to basics with a focus on one of the oldest and widely used packaging items in history – Envelopes!

all-envelope-types

Enve-what?

One of the most common packaging items in the world, envelopes protect their contents in the post, ensuring they reach their recipient safely and securely.

Though envelopes can be dated back to around 3500BC, the first commercial envelope-making machine was not developed until 1845.  It was then another 50 years before pre-gummed envelopes were produced commercially.

Envelopes have continued to evolve over time as our needs have changed drastically – they now need to protect much more than just paper letters or documents! There are now hundreds of types of envelope available for all kinds of uses, offering benefits such as protection from water, bumps and shocks.

At Rajapack we stock over 30 different types of envelope, available in hundreds of sizes.  We’re going to run through the four main types below, what benefits they offer and what they should be used for.

Bubble Envelopes & Jiffy Bags

These padded envelopes offer the most cost-effective protection what’s inside.  They usually feature strong padding around the inside edges (layers of fibre, air filled protective bubbles or foam) for extra protection against damage in the post.

Any impact will be absorbed and cushioned by the thick outer layer, ensuring the contents stays safe and secure in transit. As padded envelopes have continued to evolve, they have become more lightweight, meaning a lower cost of postage, while maintaining a strong level of protection.

jiffy-and-bubble-envelopes

Jiffy bags are an envelope make that you’ve probably heard of before, being one of the most widely recognised brands of envelopes in the UK.  Named after the Jiffy Packaging Company who launched the product in 1964, they still manufacture them at the same site to this day.  They’ve been designed to be puncture resistant and come in two styles; the bubble bags contain air retention bubble wrap for longer protection, whilst the padded Jiffy bags have a lining of fibres that expand with use.

We find that padded envelopes and mailers are best when you need extra protection for your items in the post.  They are most commonly used for smaller products (an A4 envelope or less), but larger padded envelopes are available; heavy duty bubble envelopes go up to 52cm x 66cm in size, great for when you need to post large, flat items securely.

Bubble envelopes and Jiffy bags are suitable for packaging many different types of items, including jewellery, books and brochures, right through to items such as CDs, DVDs, and clothing.  Whether you choose Jiffy bags, bubble envelopes or padded mail bags, every one is designed to be lightweight to protect your products while keeping postage costs down.

Cardboard Envelopes & Mailers

These rigid envelopes are designed to ensure that the contents of your envelope won’t bend out of shape in the post.

card-backed-envelopes

The stiff cardboard construction forms a rigid frame around the envelope, offering a solid layer of protection for small, flat products.  And because they’re made of card, they’re generally very light and cost effective to mail (though be sure to check the size dimensions of the envelope).  These envelopes are ideal for packaging things like calendars and booklets, or important documents such as contracts or certificates.

For larger, thicker items such as books, brochures, CDs, or DVDs, carton envelopes (or panel wrap cardboard mailers) are perfect. They’re designed to fully enclose these thicker items, and are available with an adjustable spine, so you can put any thickness of book in them and they’ll seal securely.  To minimise postage costs, they’re exceptionally lightweight too – we currently offer the lightest cardboard mailers in Europe!

Plastic Mailing Bags

These items provide sealed protection for their contents and are very popular with online retailers and mail order companies.  Whilst being very thin, small and lightweight, they provide waterproof protection and are perfect for sensitive items as well as soft goods, such as textiles and clothing.

plastic mailers

Quick and easy to use, they all come with a tamper-poof peel and seal strip for security, ensuring that once they’ve been sealed they can’t be opened and resealed without ripping the bag.

Plastic mailing bags also present a unique option that other envelopes don’t – they are available completely see through!  For companies mailing catalogues or other documents that need an added layer of protection, clear mailing bags mean no extra effort required to re-print or re-label envelopes.

Plastic mailing bags can also double up as waterproof protection for other packages – easily fitting around a box, bag, or smaller envelope that need an added layer of polythene protection.

Office Envelopes

Finally, the most common type of envelope and probably the one you’ve used the most – the office envelope.   Made of paper and usually coloured white or manilla, these envelopes are used by almost every business, every day, for posting documents & letters.

office-envelopes

Office envelopes have size standards that have been adopted internationally under ISO 216, meaning that most countries use the same sizes of office envelopes.  A law on the standardisation of page sizes dates back to 1798 in France, making it easier for companies to do business internationally.

The sizes that are used are all scaled to each other, making use and manufacture easier internationally.  A C1 is twice the size of a C2, a C2 is twice the size of a C3 etc.  Here’s a full list of all the size dimensions – the most common type for businesses is DL size.

They’re available with a window in the front, meaning that your letters can slip straight in with the postal details on – no need to duplicate this on the envelope if the address is the letter itself.

Peel and seal or self seal options are available, both speeding up the process of sealing and sending.  Peel and seal typically have a longer shelf life as the gum is protected by a layer of paper.

Though there are standard sizes and colours, the quality of office envelopes can’t be guaranteed simply because they are so popular.  Usually coming pre-gummed, the thickness, quality of the paper, finish, and adhesive on the seal can all vary greatly.

Cheaper, thinner envelopes can suffer from print see-through, and no business wants their correspondence on show – especially when you’re sending private and confidential documents.  Ensure your envelopes don’t suffer from this oversight and insist on high quality envelopes to ensure you give your customers a great impression – they’ll be opening them after all!

Sealing Up

At Rajapack, envelopes continue to be one of our best selling products – we ship over 7 million a year to businesses of all types across the UK!

If you’re looking for envelopes for your items, if you currently have a supplier and are looking to cut costs, or are simply after some packaging advice, then please do get in touch; give us a call on 0800 542 44 28 or send us an email.  We have experienced packaging experts on hand, ready to help and advise you in any way they can.