What is plastic film?

Plastic film is defined as a continuous form of plastic material that is thin, and usually wound on a core, or cut into sheets. Generally, plastic film is made from thicknesses of .00025″ (.06mm) up to .010″ (.25mm).  Anything thicker is considered plastic sheet.

There is a HUGE universe of plastic film materials, ranging from film made of a simple single plastic material to film comprised of a complex structure of different materials and coatings. Plastic film can be manufactured out of various plastic resins, each with its own unique physical properties which are differently suited to different applications. Besides all the different materials it can be made out of, plastic film can be clear, colored, smooth, rough, functionally embossed, opaque or semi-transparent. So when you’re looking for plastic film for your application, our goal is to help you get to the specifics, so we can best fulfill your needs.

If you know you need a plastic film material but don’t yet know what particular material will best suit your application, it’s helpful to start by considering what you are going to be doing with the material, and how you expect it to perform.

Next, it’s critical to understand the size and quantity of material required. Finally, you’ll want to ask about the film’s expected life time, to ensure it will meet the length of service your application requires.

Often, we hear, “Oh just give me any plastic film, I’m trying to protect a window on a display where we’re installing in a piece of machinery. It doesn’t have to last long, it just has to be cheap.” However, it is worth examining the circumstances more critically, to ascertain whether the film needs to withstand certain conditions. For example, if it has to protect the window from certain chemicals, you’ll want to make sure that the specific plastic material used is resistant to those chemicals. (Not all plastic materials are resistant to the same chemicals!) That is especially true when it comes to solvents. Or if the window is outside, and needs UV protection, you’ll require a specific material with UV resistant properties.

One of my favorite examples of confusion about plastic film can be found behind the meat counter at the grocery store. Did you know that there are two identical looking plastic films used to wrap meats, which have very different properties?  There is a clear cellophane type wrap made of LDPE, and another one made of PVC.  The LDPE film prevents oxygen from getting through, so it is great for wrapping items like chicken, which would otherwise spoil from being exposed to oxygen. Interestingly, beef needs a little oxygen, or it spoils faster. So PVC is used in the wrapping film used for beef, because PVC lets just the right amount of oxygen through.  If you examined these two films side by side, there would be no way you could tell the difference between them just by looking.  However, they are very different where it counts for these different uses.

Grafix Plastics stocks a wide variety of different kinds of plastic film products in a variety of thicknesses and finishes. Our Plastic Film Products page outlines all the different types of material that we offer.