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A shrink tunnel is a piece of shrink wrap equipment and a type of packaging machinery. It is the part of the machine that provides the heat to shrink the shrink wrap and is generally a heated chamber that goes over a conveyor belt. Shrink tunnels can be used for industrial applications, for functions in offices, and sometimes in the home. They can be small machines built to shrink wrap smaller objects, or large machines used for large objects or heavy-duty shrink wrapping.
Generally, shrink wrap machines work by moving the object to be shrink wrapped through the heating tunnel of a shrink wrap machine. Some shrink tunnels are part of automated machines that wrap the object before putting it through the shrink tunnel using a conveyor belt. Other types of shrink tunnels require that the user apply the plastic wrap manually before sending the object through the heat tunnel.
Shrink tunnels range in size and shape, depending on the type of objects they need to shrink. When used in the home, they can be as small as a bread maker or as large as a copy machine, and in industrial applications, shrink tunnel machines vary widely in size. Large or heavy-duty shrink wrapping equipment is often necessary in factories that shrink wrap large merchandise or wrap substantial numbers of packages in a short period. These machines can be sold as standalone shrink tunnels or attachments that go onto another packaging machines. Shrink wrap tunnels are often used in combination with bar sealers.
A bar sealer can also be known as a bag sealer. It seals the end of a shrink wrap bag before the bank is shrunk to the size of the product. Bar sealers are also used frequently in home and professional kitchens as part of a vacuum-sealing system for bags. Vacuum sealing food helps preserve its flavor, and it allows the cook to use a low-temperature method called sous vide.
In some areas of the world, a shrink wrap machine can also be called a shrink film machine. Typically, if a user needs to shrink wrap but does not have machinery with a shrink tunnel, he uses a shrink wrap gun to heat the shrink wrap until it shrinks. A shrink tunnel is a more sophisticated piece of equipment that shrinks wrap more evenly, creating a more sleek and professional appearance than shrink wrap treated with a heat gun.
Shrink wrap is used frequently in many industries. Industrial shrink tunnel assemblies can wrap packages as they head down a conveyor belt. Large pallets of boxes are often shrink wrapped before shipment to keep the boxes safe from theft or loss.