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Polyethylene, more commonly known as polythene, is the form of plastic most widely-used in the UK and around the world. Polythene is manufactured in the UK to make the packaging used for a massive range of goods and products, from the food that we eat to the technology that we use. Polythene is produced as film and either used in this format - as with builders rolls or layflat tubing - or it is used to produce plastic bags of various kinds, from carrier bags to bin bags.

Polythene film - your flexible friend

Polythene film is an incredibly handy product used mainly to cover, wrap or package items. Given the extremely flexible nature of polythene film, it is particularly useful to wrap items that don’t lend themselves to standard packaging, such as boxes or bags.

Something that is oddly shaped or an usual size might be difficult to wrap on its own but, if you have dozens or hundreds or thousands of items to wrap covering a variety of sizes, one-size-fits-all packaging just isn’t going to do the trick.

What you need in that instance is a roll of polythene film. Supplied on the roll, polythene film can be rolled out onto the work surface in front of you, the item placed on it , the film then cut and the item wrapped, all with a minimum of fuss and effort.

Plus it doesn’t matter if the next item to come along is exactly the same or completely different, with polythene film you can move from one size and shape to another with no trouble at all.

Layflat tubing

Polythene film doesn’t always come in single layers - it sometimes comes in a tube!

Layflat tubing - often referred to as poly-tubing - is a flexible, continuous tube of polythene film. Sold on rolls of up to 700m long, layflat tubing is widely used in the packaging industry.

It is a handy solution for bespoke packaging and is perfect for packing products awkwardly-shaped products - e.g. plants, light tubes, posters - or a series of items that have a common or similar width but vary in length.

Using individual polythene bags for this type of job would require lots of different sized bags, whereas with layflat tubing just one roll will do the job.

Known as LFT for short, layflat tubing comes in a variety of widths, from 5cm (2”) to 122cm (48”) to cater for all range of product sizes. The tubing is rolled around a central reel and is sealed at the center of the roll but open at the end.

How does layflat tubing work?

To use LFT to pack an item, you place the product in question inside the open end of the tube and then pull sufficient tubing over the product to ensure that it is fully covered.

Once this is done, you cut the tubing to the required length and then seal it around the object at one or both ends, with either tape, staples or a heat sealer - a machine designed specifically for this sort of task.

Layflat tubing - size and gauge

The length of tubing contained on a regular roll of LFT can vary greatly, depending on the thickness - or gauge - of the film used to make the tubing. As a general rule, the thinner the polythene, the longer the roll of tubing.

A roll of LFT using 120 gauge polythene - typically the thinnest used - will provide 700m of tubing. When 250 gauge polythene is used, a roll of LFT will measure 336m long, while 500 gauge polythene - typically the thickest used - will provide 170m of tubing.

As the length reduces as the gauge increases, the weight of a full unused roll of layflat tubing remains the same for rolls of equal width. What’s more, the weight of full unused roll of layflat tubing is roughly the same in kilograms (kg) as the width of the roll in inches (“).

Layflat tubing - example sizes

So, for example, a roll of 7” layflat tubing will weigh 7kg, a roll of 10” layflat tubing will weigh 10kg, while a roll of 12” tubing will weigh 12kg.

Whatever size of roll you choose, layflat tubing will provide you with the perfect solution for packaging those difficult-to-wrap items, such as those that are particularly long, or come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

LFT will allow you to create a series of strong, protective, made-to-measure bags or packages, which makes it a particularly flexible and economical form of packaging.

Where can I buy polythene film?

Manufacturers and suppliers of polythene film include:

Heat Sealers Direct
Website providing you with the best suppliers of discount manual, impulse and foot operated heat sealers. Heat Sealers Direct also provide details of how to use heat sealers and what to look for in a quality heat sealer.

Irish customers with registered companies have the opportunity to save an extra 21% when shopping from Suppliers and manufacturers of a wide range of polythene packaging with environmentally-friendly options also available.

Discount Polythene Film
Great source of information on polythene film, including details of how it is made, the benefits of using polythene film and the best places to buy it at discount prices. Provides useful info on the types of polythene film available to buy to meet your packaging needs.

Plastic Film
A great resource for plastic sheeting and polythene film, including details of the UK and Europe's top plastic film stockists and manufacturers. Provides information on a wide range of plastic film products, including stretch wrap, layflat tubing and polythene tubing.

Discount Pallet Covers is dedicated to supplying good quality pallet covers at discount prices. Also providing a guide to help you with your questions about pallet covers.

Discount Plastic Film is a fantastic source of information on poly sheeting and polythene film, including where to source them. Provides lots of useful details on a range of types of polythene tubing, including pallet shrink film, shrinkwrap kits and a variety of layflat tubing.

Polythene Film Direct
Specialists in layflat tubing and other types of polythene film, including gusseted tubing and builders rolls. Polythene Film Direct provide a list of discount suppliers for your polythene film needs, plus details of how layflat tubing is made.

Polythene Film is your resource for information on polythene film and plastic sheeting. Find answers to common questions about polythene film such as what is a good supplier where you can buy all your plastic bags and packaging materials for discounted prices.

Find the cheapest supplier of stretch wrap films. Stretch-Wrap's expert supplier can help you identify the most cost effective wrapping packaging that is the perfect fit for your needs.

Research & Resources

For more detailed information about polythene film and layflat tubing, including how they are manufactured and the different types of plastic film available, please visit:

Goldstork: free "best of the web" directory, where you will find useful hand-picked information and websites specialising in polythene film. free web directory that specialises in polythene packaging. Post your product listings for free or browse for useful polythene film websites.

PackagingKnowledge: Read detailed information and in-depth news about the flexible plastic packaging industry including this article on polythene film.

Seal the deal in style - with a heat sealer!

When you use layflat tubing to package your products, it is essential to seal the tube of polythene film at either one end - to create a bespoke bag or open pouch - or both ends - to securely wrap the product.

Sealing the layflat tubing can be done using a variety of methods. You can staple the film together, tie it with a bag tie or tape it up with strong packaging tape.

However, the recommended method is to seal the plastic with a specially-designed heat sealing machine.

Available in a range of sizes to suit the width of film that you are working with, impulse heat sealers are designed for regular everyday use to seal films up to 800 gauge thickness.

Once the heat sealer is turned on and warmed up, you lift the handle, place the film that you wish to seal inside on top of the base and simply press down. The heat of the machine seals the polythene to itself, while an integral cutter cuts the polythene and leaves you with a tidy package.