Glossary of packaging terms

Polybags Direct is committed to providing packaging knowledge. The following list is a glossary of terms used in the packaging industry.

Modified atmosphere packaging MAP The use of gas flush vacuum packaging to change in atmosphere within the package. Packaged salads, nuts, chips and meats are packaged with gas flush.
Bags on a roll Continuous roll of seamless tubing perforated under bottom seal. Bags must be torn off to open.
Bottom seal bags Individually cut bags from seamless tubing, sealed on the bottom. Flat or side gusseted bags with a strong seal.
Butylated hydroxytoluene BHT A fat-soluble organic compound that is primarily used as an antioxidant food additive as well as in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products and embalming fluid.
Biaxially oriented polypropylene BOPP A material used for resealable lip and tape. This material offers an even higher grade of clarity and is resistant to tears and wrinkles.
Caliper The thickness of sheet material expressed in "points" or mils (thousands of an inch).
Cast film The fabrication of a film by continuously pumping the polymer through a straight slot die, then chilling this hot plastic immediately through contacts with a chilled roll. Film width is determined by how fast the chill roll pulls the film away from the die.
Center fold film A film that has been folded in half,lengthwise.
Center folder A mechanical device used to create center folded film.
Clarity Transparency of the film based upon surface gloss and haze.
Co-extrusion Two or more polymers extruded and combined in a die, each forming a distinct layer in the final film.
Co-polymerCo-polymer Result of two monomers being combined through polymerization.
Core A paper tube on which film is wound.
Corrugated A durable, lightweight material used for making cases. Corrugated packaging has an arched layer, called fluting, between smooth sheets, called liner. The corrugated cardboard most commonly used to make cases has one layer of fluting between two smooth sheets.
Cellophane Clear film derived from wood pulp has a memory and will crinkle like paper, it is a thin, flexible, transparent film formed from cellulose fibres. Cellophane is widely used in food packaging due to its high moisture barrier properties and sealability and is biodegradable.
Die A device used in extrusion processes to shape the extrudate.
Dwell time The time usually expressed in seconds at a given temperature that is required for the application of heat to seal a heat sealing membrane.
Elasticity The ability of paper or plastic to rebound back to its original state after being stretched.
Extensibility The ability of paper or plastic to be stretched without breaking.
Extruder A machine that makes stretch film. It consists of a large steel barrel surrounded by heaters, which melt the plastic resin pellets. Inside of the barrel is a large screw to force the liquid plastic under pressure through a die to be made into plastic sheeting by either the cast or blown processes.
Extrusion A product formed by pushing material through a die.
Extrusion lamination A laminating process in which individual layers of multi-layer packaging materials are laminated to each other by extruding a thin layer of molten synthetic resin (such as polythene) between the layers.
End (bottom) weld A bag with the seal at the base of the bag. The seal is separated from the end of the bag by a small skirt. Bag length is measured from top to bottom of the bag including the skirt.
Euro-pallet A euro-pallet measures 1200mm x 800mm. A euro-pallet is smaller than a UK pallet.
Euroslot A horizontal slot punched in the bag for hanging.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) Electrostatic discharge is the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects caused by contact.
EPI Environmental Technologies (EPI) EPI Environmental Technologies has been designed to control and manage the lifetime of products made from plastics.
Flat bags Two-dimensional bag (width x length) with bottom or side seals.
Flexibility The property of a material, which will permit its being bent or twisted without breaking, the state of being non-rigid.
Four color process printing Indicates the four-color plates or cylinders commonly used in color printing.
Flush A term used in layflat tubing whereby the film is rolled right up to the edge of the core.
Faraday cage A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields.
Gauge A term used in referring to the thickness. The higher the gauge the thicker the material.
1 mil 1/1000 of an inch
1 mil 25.4 microns
1 micron One millionth of a meter
1 inch 25.4 mm
100 gauge 1 mil
80 gauge 8/10 mil
Gauge band Thickness irregularity in films.
Gusset Gussets are traditionally added to clothing to add breadth. Gussets are also a way of making polythene and paper bags bigger. Paper bags can have a bottom gusset. Poly bags can have a side gusset.
Gusseted bags Flat style bag with both sides or bottom tucked in to form gussets. Designated with three dimensions; Side Gusset (width x depth x length) or Bottom Gusset (width x length + gusset).
Grip seal A bag which is resealable and reclosable by two plastic components interlock at the top of the bag. The bag is reusable and flexible.
Gusset seal A flat-style bag manufactured with both sides tucked in to form gussets.
Grams per square meter (GSM) Refers to the substance weight of paper, relating to an area of paper that remains constant. Standard printer paper is around 80gsm.
High density polythene (HDPE) This blend of material offers higher strength material when compared to normally LDPE film. It can be blended with any of the above material to boost their puncture resistance. However the most common use for this blend is on thin gauges as it allows you to down gauge, however still have the same strength as the thicker material. One downside to HDPE film is that the clarity is not as good as LDPE film. Common usages include grocery bags and trash bags.
Hole punch A mechanical device used to produce an air evacuation hole.
Half moon hole punch A punch hole that has not been completely cut through. Air is still able to escape through the bag.
Hot melt adhesive Stick to almost anything: foams, corrugated cardboard, fabrics, plastics light-gauge metals. Hot melts are as strong as mechanical fasteners and sealing tapes. Hot melts are virtually invisible therefore improving overall aesthetic.
Impulse sealer Also known as a heat sealer. These units use an electrical current passed through a Ni-Chrome wire heating element to seal bags & tubing. Impulse heat sealers be used on many plastic materials to create strong permanent welds.
Inch A unit of length in the British Imperial system.
Keyline The guide used in making plates or engraving cylinders and printing a piece - a diagram of copy and art for reproduction.
Lamination Composite product consisting of two or more sheets or films joined together with glue or adhesive.
Low density polythene (LDPE) LDPE film is resistant to punctures and tears, non-porous and stretchable. LDPE has good clarity but weak film strength. Primarily used for plastic food bags and poly sheeting.
Linear low density polythene (LLDPE) LLDPE film has higher tensile strength and higher impact and puncture resistance than the LDPE. Mainly used for stretch film.
Lip One side of the bag is longer than the other, allows bag to be opened more easily.
Medium density polythene (MDPE) Film that has higher stiffness, higher melting point and better water vapor barrier properties. Common usages include gas pipes and heavy duty shrink films.
Memory The ability of a film to maintain its characteristics after shrinking.
Metric conversions
1 kilogram (kg) 2.2046 pounds
1 meter 39.37 inches
1 pound 1.0936 yards
1 mill 1/1000 of an inch
1 micron 1/1000000 of a meter
1 inch 25.4 mm
100 gauge 1 mill
80 gauge 8/10 mill
Millimeter A unit of length. One-thousandth of a meter or a one-tenth of a centimeter.
Mill Thickness of material. The higher the mill, the stronger the material. 1 mill is 1-thousandth of an inch.
Micron Thickness of material. 1 micron is 1-millionth of a meter.
Nylon Polyamide resins, with very high melting points, excellent clarity and stiffness. Two types are used for films: nylon-6 and nylon-66. The latter has much higher melt temperature, thus better temperature resistance, but the former is easier to process and it is cheaper. Both have good oxygen and aroma barrier properties, but they are poor barriers to water vapor.
Opacity Hiding power of pigmented (mostly white) plastic films. It is beneficial for packing materials sensitive to light (visible or ultraviolet).
Opaque A coloured film where you can not see sunlight through the film.
Oriented polypropylene OPP OPP film has high tensile strength. The film is transparent in colour and can withstand high temperatures. OPP film is food safe and environmentally friendly. It is often used to package confectionery, finished products, spices, vegetables and bakery products. The film can also be used for packaging cosmetic and medical products.
Pallet A rigid platform used as a base for transporting goods as a unit load. A standard UK pallet measures approximately 1000mm x 1200mm.
Pallet wrap Pallet wrap stretchwrap that is used to bind a pallet together.
Perforations The practice of creating a long series of holes so that plastic film can be torn more easily. Postage stamps are one common application of this.
Polythene A simple thermoplastic polymer of ethylene. Highly puncture and tear resistant. Not affected by extreme temperatures. Does not possess barrier properties. Good clarity. Depending on its density, it may be low density (see LDPE). medium density (see MDPE). or high density (see HDPE).
Polymer A material made through the process of polymerization.
Polyethylene Polyethylene or polythene is the most common plastic. Polyethylene is of low strength, hardness and rigidity. Polyethylene has a high ductility and impact strength as well as low friction. It shows strong creep under persistent force. It feels waxy when touched. Most grades have excellent chemical resistance, meaning they are not attacked by strong acids or strong bases and are resistant to gentle oxidants and reducing agents. Depending on film thickness, polyethylene can vary between almost clear (transparent), milky-opaque (translucent) or opaque.
Polymerization A gas heated under pressure to form a solid.
Polypropylene Polypropylene film helps to preserves freshness with vapor and moisture barriers. The film is non-porous and has excellent clarity. Polypropylene film can withstand high temperatures.
Poly vinyl chloride (PVC) A tough, stiff, very clear film. The oriented version is used mainly for shrink film applications.
Printed warning notice (PWN) A simple printed warning about the danger of suffocation with polythene bags.
Reclosable bags Seal-top reclosable bags can be made with or without a tamper-evident adhesive seal. Also includes zipper and slider zipper bags.
Recovery Stretch film trying to return back to its original form after it has been stretched. This action constantly pulls the load together since the stretch film tightly form-fits the load. Stretch wrapping continues to tighten the load as it settles during shipment, due to the recovery property, keeping the load safe and secure during shipment.
Resin identification code Resin identification codes (RIC) are codes defined by the European Commission. They identify the recyling status of a material.
RIC 05 polyproplene #5 PP applies to polypropylene and indicates the material is recyclable.
RIC 04 low density polythene #4 LDPE applies to low-density polyethylene and indicates the material is recyclable.
Seal strength Measurement of force required to break or destroy a heat seal formed by any of the heat sealing sheets.
Sheeting The cutting of a large master roll into sheets.
Shrink wrapping A technique of packaging in which the strains in a plastic film are released by raising the temperature of the film, thus causing it to shrink over the package.
Side weld Bags that are sealed on the side only. Has no bottom seal.
Singlewound film A single layer of shrink film wrapped around a core.
Slitting The cutting of a large master roll into smaller rolls used.
Static An electrical charge built-up in plastic film.
Seal Term used to describe the seal at the bottom of a can liner. The three types of seals are flat, gusseted and star.
Shielding bag A bag used to shield the contents from electromagnetic radiation. A metallised bag is a form of shielding bag.
Tear resistance The ability of a film to resist the propagation of a tear.
Tensile strength The ability of a material to resist a direct pull. Higher tensile strength is generally preferred for packaging products. When packaging heavier products a packing tape with higher tensile strength is preferred to help ensure a better seal. A stretch film with higher tensile strength will reduce shipping damages and increase load stabilization.
Tolerance Allowable deviation from a nominal or specified dimension. Minimum/maximum range of measurement.
Top sheeting A protective covering put on the top of a load to protect the top from dust, dirt and other objects that might damage or dirty the load.
Tint Film where only a little masterbatch is added to give a tint of colour.
Totally degradable plastic additives (TDPA) TDPA is produced by EPI Environmental Technologies. TDPA is designed to manage the lifetime of polythene products. Once their useful shelf life has passed they will degrade and then biodegrade into environmentally friendly products in a matter of years (rather than centuries). This type of packaging is also referred to as 'degradable' or 'oxo-degradable' packaging. Our LDPE polythene film is made from a virgin polymer. We add EPI additive to increase its biodegradability. Essentially EPI's TDPA provides a way to make conventional plastics degradable and biodegradable.
Vent hole Air evacuation holes in a film made by pin perforators.
Zip top pouch A reclosable or resealable pouch produced with a plastic track in which two plastic components interlock to provide a mechanism that allows for reclosability in a flexible package.

Shopping basket

Recommend us

  • Like our products?
  • Like our service?
  • Like our website?

Secure shopping

  • We use a secure 128 bit e-commerce server.
  • All VISA, MasterCard and debit cards accepted.
  • No PayPal account required to process your order.