How to Shrink Wrap

Two Methods:Using an Impulse Sealer and Heat GunUsing Scissors and a Hairdryer

Shrink-wrapping is one of the best and easiest ways to protect a variety of items for storage or during transport. The size of the items can range from CDs to boats. Some of the most common non-industrial shrink-wrapping needs come from small business owners who wrap their own products while readying them for distribution. Scroll down and read the steps below to learn how to shrink wrap an item with basic shrink-wrapping machines or even with around-the-home equipment.

Method 1
Using an Impulse Sealer and Heat Gun

  1. Image titled Shrink Wrap Step 1
    Choose an item to shrink wrap. Impulse sealers are some of the most common small-scale shrink-wrapping machines available, and they easily allow you to customize the size and shape of an item to be shrink wrapped. By first choosing the item you need to shrink wrap, you can decide on other specifics.
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    Choose a type of shrink-wrapping film. The two most common shrink-wrap films are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyolefin. Polyolefin is more durable when it comes to wrapping items with sharp edges, and it has less of an odor when it comes to wrapping food; however, it is also more expensive.[1]
    • For most jobs, PVC is still the go to film, including CDs and Blu-Rays[2]
    • Depending on your specific job, you can also decide between flat rolls of film, pre-made bags in various sizes with three sides already sealed, or gauge size ranging from 60 to 100.[3]
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    Turn on your impulse sealer. An impulse sealer resembles a paper cutter that seals the shrink wrap as opposed to slicing it when you bring down the arm (though some models do also have a cutter included).[4]
    • Your impulse sealer will have a knob with different heat settings. The specific setting you want depends on the film type and gauge size you decided on for your item. Your film may have come with a recommended heat setting, or you can easily practice on a small piece of film to find the ideal temperature where it seals without burning.[5]
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    Prepare your shrink-wrap film. With a flat roll of film, fold the film over your item as though you’re measuring out wrapping paper to wrap a gift. Cut the film with scissors, leaving yourself plenty of room to fit the excess on the three open sides under the arm of your impulse sealer.
    • If you ordered pre-made bags in a suitable size for your item, then you can simply place it in the bag.
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    Seal your item. One side at a time, place the open edges of the film onto the impulse sealer and close the arm, which will heat and seal the side.[6] Even in models without a cutter, the heat from the seal will make it easy to tear away excess material from the sealed sides of the bag.[7]
    • Try to get close to the item without actually bringing it in contact with the arm on the sealer. This will lead to a clean-looking finished product after applying the heat gun, and it will also help you save on wrapping film with practice.
    • If you’re shrink-wrapping a product that you still need a a customer to be able to smell (such as soap), then you can use a hole punch to puncture one small piece of the sealed bag before heat shrinking.[8]
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    Shrink the sealed film with a heat gun. A heat gun resembles a hairdryer, but it distributes heat more evenly to the film.[9] From several inches away, make passes over the sealed bag. The film will quickly react to the heat and shrink down to the exact size of the sealed item.[10]
    • Make sure you rotate the item as you pass the heat gun over it to heat the film evenly.
    • Using the gun too close to the film or leaving it pointed at one spot for too long can warp the film or even burn it, so ensure that you make even passes from several inches away.

Method 2
Using Scissors and a Hairdryer

  1. Image titled Shrink Wrap Step 7
    Choose an item to shrink wrap. Just as with the impulse sealer method above, you still have to choose the shrink-wrap film best suited to the job at hand. For most items at home using scissors and a blowdryer, PVC film should work fine.
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    Wrap your item. Fold the item in the film as though you were going to gift wrap it, and cut a piece of film that size from the roll. The sheet you cut should be a single piece slightly larger than what you need.[11]
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    Cut off excess film. Trim off any excess strands of shrink wrap. The film should cling tightly to the item, eliminating any air pockets and uncovered spaces.[12]
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    Use the hairdryer to seal the seam. If the way you wrapped the item has left a seam that needs to be sealed before you can continue, use the hairdryer to heat directly along the overlap of the seam to seal the film.
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    Heat the film evenly to shrink it over the rest of the item. Apply heat from the hairdryer evenly around the wrap until it shrinks. If you apply it unevenly, the wrap will not shrink proportionately.
    • A hairdryer will require more time than a heat gun to shrink the film properly. Heat as evenly as possible.
    • The finished product will serve its purpose, but this method requires lots of practice to create a finished product with a look similar to using actual shrink-wrapping equipment.


  • Recycle used shrink wrap so that it can be reused in the future.
  • Sealers and heat guns can cause burns, so always operate the equipment with care.

Things You’ll Need

  • Scissors
  • Hairdryer
  • Impulse sealer
  • Heat gun
  • Shrink-wrap film
  • Item to shrink wrap

Article Info

Categories: Travel Packing