Yucky Shrink Wrap !?


True Grumbler
May 4, 2005
Got out a roll of shrink wrap yesterday. It was purchased many years ago (10-15?), stored in my constantly de-humidified basement. As I unrolled the entire roll,(looking for a usable area) it had greasy/oily blotches all thru it. Yikes-What happened? Did I buy a poor quality? Is it self-destructing!? Went thru past shrink wrap threads, so I feel equiped on what to buy now as far as equipment & film quality- Thanks! I'm just curious now about my oily shrink wrap
I don't know what happened to your shrink-wrap but it sounds like a great argument for those customers who think shrink-wrapping is the perfect (and cheap) way to hang their artwork for posterity - NOT!

One of the main reasons I sold my shrink-wrap supplies was because of customers like that - plus it was a huge PITA!!!
Sounds like the plasticiser is migrating out. That is a problem with many many plastics and adhesives, even the so-called "good" ones.

Just goes to show what time and environment can do to inherently unstable materials.

Be happy you found out this way, rather than by getting oily good on the art!

I have shrink wrapped prints and posters up in my storage loft that have been up there for around eight years. Prior to that they where on display at my Midway store and some of them even date back to my old store on Sports Arena Blvd. Total time dates back to the 1970s, up to 30 years.

My storage loft gets downright hot in the summer, over a hundred I would guess. This is San Diego, so they get chilly in the winter, at best.

I have seen no oily residue nor anything else that I would call all that detrimental to the prints that have been stored this way. My guess is you got a hold of some cheap shrink wrap, or that by remaining in the rolled up state, a chemical reaction of some sort, occurred.

It is also possible that some where along the line, someone just spilled some oil on the roll, assuming it was standing on end.

I do remember having an old roll of shrink wrap someone gave me. About the first twenty or so feet of the role was unusable due to just dirt and a foggy look if I can remember right, no oil though.

Look on the cardboard roll that the shrink film is rolled on. You may be able to see who the manufacturer was. If you are that lucky, assuming it is someone like 3M, I am sure they will replace the roll for you.

I had the same problem a few years ago. I spoke with the manufacturer and apparently, if unused, it can go "bad". It doesn't seem to affect wrapped posters, if they are wrapped before it goes bad. They did not, however, replace the roll. I just had to buy a new one.
Plasticizing oils are more likely to show up
when the material is concentrated on the roll than
when the plastic has been applied in a single
layer. In a single layer, it may evaporate. Understanding which polymers are soft by themselves and which need plasticizers to make
them flexible, is critical when one is choosing
among them.

This happened to me also Sharon, but only after about a year or so. I called the manufacturer of the shrink wrap and he said that it does have a limited shelf life. However there is no way for us to know how long it sat on the suppliers shelf. I have learned that it is not good to "stock-up" on this shrink film. I am trying to use clear bags with the adhesive flap if possible.

I got stuck with several rolls like that from one of our friendly distributors. I too had to buy new ones. Cost me quite a bit. They were opened when received and bad, bad, bad. I don't think it's age. Every time I'd order a roll it was like throwing the dice, so now I get it from a more expensive distributor so I can return it. Hasn't happened in a couple years or so though.
Someone in the plastics industry told me that shirnkwrap material at the end of its life span turns back into what it started out as - oil. Now this may take a long time. We were also told by the suppliers who sell us shrink wrap that the shelf life is about 12 months so we have been always very careful to make sure the oldest stock is always shipped first to keep the stock fresh on our shelves.