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PET Packaging Film 101: Understanding the Basics of Polyester Film

When it comes to flexible packaging films, there are many options to choose from. But there is one film that is often a top pick because of its versatility and high-performance characteristics – PET packaging film.

What is Polyester Film?

PET stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate. It’s often referred to by its common name, Polyester, but in the flexible packaging world it’s better known as PET.

PET is a thermoplastic-engineered film, which means it can be formed and manipulated in different ways when a specific heat source is applied to it. It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly thermoplastics on the market.

The Evolution of Polyester Film

Polyester film has been around for decades. It was invented in the 1950s by the U.S. fiber manufacturer, DuPont, under the Dacron® name. Over the next several years, the use of cellophane in various applications soon dwindled as clear polyester film gained popularity because of its strength, insulating properties, and resistance to chemicals and heat. Within two decades of its creation, the film was an industry leader – and still is.

PET Film Properties

So how did PET film become one of the best multi-use plastic films around? Compared to other common films in this category, it delivers a lot more benefits because of these polyester film properties:

  • Higher tensile strength
  • Inert to most chemicals
  • Excellent dimensional stability
  • Excellent electrical properties
  • Good thermal stability over wide temperature range
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Superior UV resistance
  • Good optical clarity
  • Recyclable
  • Bonds well to metal, adhesives, and variety of inks

Types of PET Film

There are several types of PET film that meet a wide range of packaging applications.

There are also many grades of PET film that make it compliant with FDA and USDA regulations. Common applications that might require FDA or USDA compliance would include packaging for the food and beverage industry and the medical/healthcare field where sterilized packaging is needed for products such as face shields or surgical instruments and other medical devices.

At PennPac, we carry extensive product inventory including plain, treated, heat-sealable, metallized, and coated polyester films – available in different thicknesses, widths, and properties, and in both rolls and sheets.

Our films include:

  • Transparent
  • Corona Treat
  • Chemical Treat
  • One Side Treat
  • Matte
  • Metallized

To download any of our polyester films spec sheets, visit our polyester films page.

PET vs. HDPE Packaging: What’s the Difference?

High-density polyethylene, also known as HDPE, is another common packaging solution used in the food and beverage industry among other industries. Like PET, it’s lightweight and impact resistant but there are a few key differences between the two.

  • Opacity: Perhaps the biggest difference between HDPE and PET is that PET is typically clear/transparent, while HDPE is translucent. You can see inside the packaging close-up, but at a further distance, the packaging looks opaque.
  • Temperature: Both HDPE and PET are heat resistant, but HDPE has a higher melting point (160°F). HDPE also can resist cold better, up to -50°F, compared to PET which can handle temps to -40°F.
  • Flexibility: PET is strong yet retains its flexibility. HDPE is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s strong yet extremely rigid and difficult to crack.

So which packaging option is best? It all comes down to your application needs. PET is likely the better choice for food and beverage packaging, with HDPE being the better option for heavier-duty packaging and shipping needs.

Common PET Applications

As mentioned earlier, the food and beverage industry is a big user of PET film because of its food-safe qualities. But many other industries rely on PET film. Here are just a few examples:

  • Medical and healthcare packaging
  • Surface protection for windows, screens, and merchandizing displays
  • Pressure-sensitive labels and tags
  • Thermal lamination
  • Wire and cable insulation
  • Electrical components

Contact PennPac for Your PET Film Needs

Our knowledgeable team is ready and waiting to answer any questions you may have – just give us a call at 717-664-4040 or connect with us online.

You can also view our FAQ page to learn more about the films and services we offer.