Wrapping machines for magazines, newspapers, catalogues and other paper products will again have a strong presence during this year’s PPMA Total Show at the NEC, Birmingham. Visitors will be able to meet suppliers of new equipment for machinery for packaging printed material, including newspapers, magazines and catalogues, as well as delivery notes and invoices for ecommerce packages.  

For publishers, membership organisations, direct mail and home delivery businesses, the event provides a great opportunity to catch up on the latest developments in cost effective and environmentally friendly packaging solutions for all types of printed material. To find out more about packaging for print from PPMA members, visit PPMA Total Show 2022.

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Magazine Wrapping Machines

Magazine wrapping machines are designed to quickly and effectively protect periodicals during their journey through the post to private addresses, or to be forwarded by bulk transit to retailers. Wrapping protects publications from scuffing and other damage. It seals the product for security so that it arrives in good order.

Plastic wrapping machines and polythene packing machines can be used for individual items, or for several items distributed together in one package, such as multipart newspaper sections, or catalogues and separate flyers. However, plastic wrap is no longer the only material used by publishers, with a range of greener alternatives now available.

What types of wrapping machines are used for magazines?

Flow wrapping machines

Flow wrapping machines are a type of FFS (form, fill, seal) machine which creates a pack and seals it in one operation. Magazines or other printed material are fed by conveyor onto a roll-fed sheet of plastic film or alternative material. A second sheet of material is overlaid on top of the product. The two sheets are then heat sealed and trimmed to make a secure package, which is fed from the wrapping line into a stack for onward transit.

L-fold wrapping machines use a single film which is folded over the product and sealed on three edges.

Shrink wrapping machines

Shrink wrapping is used for packaging rigid print products, such as books, which require a tight wrap. Heat is applied to a thermoplastic material already loosely wrapped around the product or group of products, which then shrinks around them to form a tight wrap. It is useful for bundles of products, and also as an inner wrap to protect products which are distributed in individual cartons.

Stretch wrapping equipment uses a flexible wrap with elasticity that ensures a close fit to the product or group of products. Unlike Shrink Wrap it does not require heating. 

Labelling machines

Printed products such as membership magazines and subscription editions of newspapers are sent directly by post or courier to individuals’ addresses. The address details need to be printed on labels and applied to the package.

Print and apply equipment forms part of the packaging line. Packages are usually fed by conveyor to the labelling station where the labels are fed from a reel, printed with relevant address data and applied. Self-adhesive labels are often applied under direct pressure from a roller, or are ‘wiped’ onto the package by a flexible paddle.

Address information can also be printed directly onto the wrapping material. The print options are limited for plastic film, but if paper is used the options are much greater for the use of designs and colour.

Which materials can wrapping machines use?

There are multiple choices of plastic substrates available for wrapping magazines, books, catalogues and other publications. The most commonly used materials are known as polywrap and are made from polyolefins, such as polyethylene, polypropylene and flexible PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Wrapping machines are in general designed for use with these familiar plastic products in a range of thicknesses.

However, with over one million tonnes of plastic film used in the UK every year, the environmental damage that results from plastic waste disposal is part of the world-wide concern about the use of standard plastics. Greener alternatives are increasingly being adopted by publishers and other organisations.

For packaging businesses, this means it is vital to understand what materials their wrapping equipment can handle and whether they need to invest in new capital equipment to meet growing market demands for a greener approach.  

Environmentally friendly plastic magazine packaging

Conventional plastic wrapping is increasingly being avoided by publishers and other organisations, with many publications no longer using plastic film. The list is growing and includes The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Which? magazine and the BBC’s Countryfile and Wildlife periodicals, all of which now use compostable packaging.

Recyclable plastic wrapping is a significant improvement on non-recyclable material. Where film can be recycled it fits in with the broader benefits of recycling all forms of plastic for packaging, containers and other uses. Recycling is key to helping to create a circular economy where materials are repeatedly re-used rather than sent to waste or landfill.

Biodegradable plastics include enzymes which break down the plastic and help to reduce the problems of disposal of larger plastic items. However, biodegradable plastic can take several years to break down, and can leave behind micro-fragments of plastic which are damaging to the environment.   

Many wrapping machines are able to handle standard, recyclable and biodegradable plastic films, but it is important to understand what issues apply; for example, to the tensions which different films are able to withstand.

Compostable wrap

Compostable wrapping material is made from organic material such as starch and does not use plastic. After use, the material breaks down biologically into CO2, water and minerals. Papers and cards form the basis of most compostable wrapping and are best suited to meeting the demands of environmentally conscious consumers.

The difference between flexible plastic film and compostable wrap means that understanding what your existing machinery can handle is vitally important.

How do you choose the right wrapping machine?

Wrapping equipment, supplied by PPMA members, provides solutions for printers, magazine publishers and newspapers. There are many options, including flexible equipment which can handle different types of material. While speed and efficiency remain key priorities for wrapping operations, in the longer term, you are going to need equipment which meets the environmentally friendly aims of your customers.  

PPMA Total Show 2022 will help you get in touch with providers of wrapping equipment for all aspects of print, publishing and paper packaging.


  • Technical staff and management from the print, publishing and paper businesses who wish to stay up-to-date with new developments. 
  • Owners and managers responsible for developing wrapping businesses.
  • Senior team members seeking to benefit from first-class networking.


Visitors to PPMA TOTAL SHOW 2022 will benefit from seeing the latest developments in filling technology. The Show takes place at the NEC. We look forward to seeing you there.

Find out more: WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE PPMA Total SHOW 2021?