Plastic films come in a variety of colors, finishes, and levels of transparency. There are plenty of applications that require opaque or translucent film, but clear plastic film can be especially popular for a variety of use cases.
Generally, clear plastic film provides a protective layer or unique finish that doesn’t visually obstruct the material underneath. Luckily, there are plenty of different clear film options that can suit various organizational needs, visual preferences, and levels of strength and durability.
Types of Clear Plastic Film
Before you can choose the perfect clear plastic film for your company’s needs, it helps to know the options. There are many different plastic films that can be produced with a clear finish. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the most popular plastic film products that can be offered with a transparent look.
- Acrylic is known for its optical clarity and impact resistance. Though it can come in various finishes, it is most popular in its basic clear form. And it is often used to add a protective layer over materials that could use extra impact strength and protection.
- APET, or Amorphous-Polyethylene Terephthalate, offers a rigid plastic film. It’s known for providing excellent transparency and light processing paired with strong barrier properties.
- PET, or Polyethylene Terephthalate, is a thermoplastic film that can fall anywhere on the amorphous to crystalline spectrum. So this clear plastic offers various forms to suit different applications.
- PETG, or Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol, is a non-crystalline copolyester that offers plenty of durability. In addition to mechanical strength, it is also resistant to many chemicals and can be easily formed.
- Polycarbonate is an amorphous thermoplastic mainly known for its impact resistance. It is virtually unbreakable in many applications, so the clear film can provide major protection for materials that may be exposed to flying debris or impact.
- PPE, or Polyphenylene Ether, is made from a blend of polyether and polystyrene. This material offers strong dimensional stability, even when exposed to harsh conditions, chemicals, or moisture. It also provides both high mechanical and dielectric strength.
- PVC, or Polyvinyl Chloride is a versatile plastic film that comes in three main forms: blown, rigid, and flexible. It is often combined with materials that are opaque, but can be transparent when needed.
- Urethane is another versatile option, with a variety of hardness levels available. It also provides temperature flexibility, tensile strength, and general durability. This is also one of the most long-lasting plastic films available, since it can be melted and re-melted numerous times without breaking down or changing its general chemical structure.
Applications for Clear Plastic Film
Clear plastic film can be used in a huge array of industries and for various purposes. However, due to its optical clarity, it’s often employed as a protective covering to add extra protection against impact, wear, chemicals, or moisture exposure.
Clear plastic film is also common in the packaging industry. Transparent materials allow the products inside of a package to be clearly visible without exposing them to the elements.
The visual clarity of clear plastic film may also be a style choice. It’s often employed alongside printing services to create graphics for storefront windows or retail applications.
How to Choose a Clear Plastic Film
Once you know the general options of clear plastic film, it’s time to determine the performance requirements of your application. Make a list of the top qualities needed based on the environment and type of use your plastic film will be exposed to. For example, is impact strength more important, or protection against abrasion or chemicals? Then go through your potential material options for clear plastic film to find the options that most closely suit your project priorities. For example, if the materials you’re looking to protect with clear plastic films need to be sterilized or may be exposed to chemicals, chemical resistance should be at the top of your priority list. So a film like PPE may be ideal for your needs.
It can also help to look at which plastic films are most commonly used in your industry. For example, food service and packaging companies often have to meet strict industry testing standards. So it’s important to choose films that are available in grades that meet FDA and/or USDA regulations. Options like APET and PETG are common in this field.
However, other industries have completely different requirements. For example, printed electronics manufacturers often need clear films that provide dimensional stability even when exposed to heat, while also providing enough strength to protect the delicate components of these devices. As such, PET and polycarbonate film are common options in this space.
Many of the films listed above are also available in various colors, finishes, and levels of transparency. While they at least offer a clear option, some may have a slight tint, while others are known for exceptional optical clarity. The visual aspects usually just come down to personal preference or the specific requirements of each project. So work with your clear plastic film supplier to find the ideal finishes and customization options to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for clear plastic films to support your company’s goals, PolymerFilms can help. We offer a large inventory of plastic film products in various colors, finishes, and levels of transparency to suit various projects and operational needs. Our knowledgeable team can even help you understand your top film options based on industry requirements and goals, while providing a number of value added services like film cutting and conversion. To explore your clear film options further, visit our website to request a free consultation with your local distribution center.