Cello Wrap – Does It Need Cellophane? or Cello Wrappers?


Most people are surprised to know that cellophane is not commonly used, even for wrap styles called cello wrap.

Cellophane has a century-long history. It comes from the words cellulose and diaphane (meaning transparent) and is a trademarked name of Innovia Films in some countries, although not in the United States. Cellophane was the original clear wrapping material and was very popular before World War II. Its popularity dipped when scientists learned how to use by-products of petroleum for gasoline and oil to make polymers which could be used for film.

Cellophane is water-proof but not moisture-proof which makes it better for certain applications than others. Like films in current use today, cellophane requires a coating in order to seal. Like viscose, it is derived from cellulose which usually comes from trees but can be made from other plant materials. While cellophane itself is biodegradable unlike petroleum based films, the process for making it was more cumbersome and involved toxic materials. Today Innovia has a similar product, NatureFlex, which is also tree-based, uses renewable resources and is home compostable but does not create or use toxic chemicals to create it.

Since the 1960’s use of cellophane has dwindled, because other products have come along that are cheaper and easier to produce. Those are mostly petroleum based films, like polypropylene, which are also thinner and therefore weigh less, and have more moisture resistance. They are also cheaper to make than cellophane.

Package Machinery started its wrapping business using paper, waxed paper or cellophane as the wrapping materials. It subsequently moved on to BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) but still produces machines that use other wrapping materials, including waxed paper, kraft paper, coated paper, BOPP, compostable films, and bio-based films.

The key ingredient in making an overwrap, or cello wrap, process, work is a certain rigidity of the material that enables it to fold and crease without flopping.  What makes it seal is the acrylic coating that is placed on the film. The acrylic coating functions like a thin film of glue does on paper. It melts when heat is applied and bonds. When doing cello wrap or overwrap, the acrylic coating is applied on both sides of the film so that it can seal to the opposite side during the tuck and fold process.

Films, including cellophane, come in a range of thicknesses. They also vary by rigidity or brittleness. They can also vary by breathability. Picking the right one is a function of knowing what is right for your product protection and appeal. For instance, cellophane is still the preferred wrapping material for cigars because of its moisture permeability.

At Package, we work with a variety of films and wrapping materials. We test films for our own knowledge and for increased customer satisfaction. Feel free to contact us at sales@packagemachinery.com or +1.413.732.4000 to discuss what films might be right for your product needs.


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