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How to make a non-electrically Operated Pallet Wrapper Answered

I have a manual pallet turntable. You pop you pallet on it then load it up turning it as needed by hand. I can't afford an automatic pallet wrapping machine but think it should be fairly easy to make a mechanism to help with pallet wrap.

I figure that by using the turning motion of a pallet turned by hand with the roll of shrink wrap tied onto the pallet corner I should be able to use the pulling force on the roll of wrap to make the wrap move up a pole. The upward movement would be geared to ensure that a few rotations of the pallet would give an even distribution of pallet wrap.

What I can't figure out is a mechanism to do it. I suppose some sort of thick threaded rod? Any suggestions or questions that might set me thinking would be hugely helpful!

I've put a picture of the sort of machine I can't afford to buy and a picture of the pallet turntable below. I don't think it's possible to run any gears or similar from the turntable as it needs to keep a low level to the floor to get the pallet truck onto it.




Best Answer 8 years ago

I took a break from revision to draw you this pretty picture.

As you turn the handle on the top, the threaded rod in the middle turns in a nut in the wrap holder. This causes the wrap holder to move up on it's copper pipe sliders. It'd be easy to replace the handle on top for a geared motor so that you can flick a switch then you can be spinning while the pillar moves the wrap up.

I hope the diagram makes some sense. Let me know if it doesn't!


Good luck with the exams! I know how easy it is to find ANYTHING better to do when you have to do revision! Have you made a multi-colour revision timetable yet? I spent hours on one when I was finishing Uni... far more fun than revision.

Nope no multicolouring yet. I've set myself the task of 5 hours a day, 6 days a week until my exams in Feb. Started a few weeks ago. So as long as I do those 5 hours I can spend the rest of my time on whatever I fancy :D Final year so have LOTS of work to do on top of exams :p

Nice diagram. That's actually pretty similar to the arbor I was thinking of for the pulley approach,  except that I'd run the center rod through the spindle of the wrap roll, just to keep it in balance. If you're using the threaded rod, you could also put the nut in the spindle and eliminate the hand crank, which is a bit closer to KiteRunner's original idea.

Thinking about it, this might need a wooden frame either side of the sliders to give it some extra strength.

I really appreciate you taking the time to do a diagram… I’m stocked! Thank you!
Yes I follow what you are saying. I think this design would be best with a motor. I was toying with the notion (as mentioned on the other post) of using a PVC pipe with a big chunky thread cut in it on some sort of a pole. I’d make some internally threaded stoppers to go into the role of wrap and the motion of pulling the wrap off the roll would make the thing travel up the pole.
I can see that your design would be more robust especially with a wooden frame for stability. I think turning the handle and turning the pallet would be a bit like patting ones head whilst rubbing ones tummy… (hope that makes sense).
Do you think that on your design the turning motion of the roll could be somehow translated to power the threaded rod? If a motor could be set at the right speed this would work though. It could also be setup to reverse the motor when the roll on it’s little holder got to the top I suppose. Do you think it would need to be a strong motor?
Thanks for this!

Perhaps you could also attach a pulley/cog thingamy to the threaded rod at the bottom, so you wind or have a motor at the top and then that transfers power to the pulley at the bottom to turn the turntable.

Perhaps since the turntable is a unit it'd be best not to fiddle with it, but you might be able to get a rubber tyre on the end of a slowly turning axle, attached to the same motor as mentioned before. This wheel would rest on the edge of the turntable, with some weight about it when it turned it'd spin the turntable. That way you can completely seperate the turntable from your contraption and not need to modify it.

Yes I follow what you mean. I have to at least make it look safe and simple though...

Thank you to LEMONIE, JAYEFUU & RAVINGMADSTUDIOS for your time and help! This was my first Question on Instructables and I've been delighted with the responce.

I've given JAYEFUU the "Best Answer" because I think it's a mechanical system I'll go for. Everyone elses system is great and I don't want to do they an unjustice though.

Thanks again!

P.S. If I get anywhere with this I'll post an Instructable or similar!

OK I've got an idea:
Build a holder for the film reel, that allows it to be hung from a rope, on a swivel-mount I guess. Hang it from the ceiling over a pulley, and mount a counterweight that's just a little heavier, on the other end of the rope.
You pull it down from the ceiling and walk around the pallet with it, let go and the counterweight will park it up top.
I hope the diagram shows it well enough.



Nice diagram! Very clear... thank you for taking the time! 

It's not automatic, but you've got some weight-relief and an overhead parking-space.


For a business thing, I offer a business answer:
If it's worth it to you (over hand-wrapping) lease a machine, or buy a machine on a lease-back basis.
You might get a cheaper-deal through making your own, but your time considered and practicalities, go with something that works well (today/tomorrow). And strictly-speaking you'd have to account for it as capital-expenditure and put it on your asset-register...


 Of course you are right... It's not just the money though...politically it's a "toy-to-far" and it might be a fun project! 

Non-business: I'd like to see this done (and published on this site).
You'll need something a bit more than a threaded-rod I think, the picture is of something made of welded-steel, looking heavy and solid.
Best wishes for it anyway.


If I get anywhere with it I'll publish...some people have difficulty separating business from home. No one in my business would argue I need this... but it's one way of making business like my hobby... and Mrs KR would never let me have a pallet wrapper at home!

Basically this device is a "spare pair of hands" As you probably appreciate you just walk round and round the pallet with the roll to do this by hand. All I want to be able to do is keep the roll fixed and move the pallet. It's the up and down motion that is tricky.

Without reading and understanding the detail, yes that's the sort of thing, probably.


The way it's been used around me is by folks who play amortization games to write off business equipment purchase...something to do with a combination of th3e payments and devaluing the item over time. I personally don't understand it very well. Damn but I wish I had been more business oriented while in college and less the academic. eh..I could wish for 29 hour days too.

Yes I've got a handle on that, "asset register" is coming in there.


Could you use a pneumatic/hydraulic jack to move roll of wrap up & down? Easiest  thing might be to start in the high position, spin the pallet, then release the wrap to travel downward. If that's not secure, you could start low and pump the piston upward. A foot pedal to control the pressure on the piston would leave your hands free to turn the pallet.

That is a good point, use a downward motion rather than make the thing go up. I'd just need to somehow regulate the rate of descent.

Pressure kit gives me the heebie-geebies though. I suppose something could be rigged up using PVC pipe and some sort of lubricant to make it airtight.

Can you think of anything to mod or hack which might give a head start? I was looking at using a die to cut a chunky thread on a PVC pipe then a tap to make two ends for the roll of wrap. I assume if I got the thread size right it would move up and down the pipe at the right speed.
Thanks for the suggestions you've really made me look at this from another viewpoint.

How much travel do you need? The pic looks like you'd want about 3- 4 feet?
Since pressure is not your thing, the threaded rod approach sounds workable, presuming you can get the thread size you need. I wonder if something like this would work?
Alternately, how about a super-low-tech solution?  Make an upright arbor out of pipes with a lazy-susan platform on front for the wrap roll. On top of the arbor, mount a pulley. Run a cable from the lazy susan through the pulley to the back of the arbor. Hang a couple of old thrift store free weights (or a few bricks) just a little heaver than the wrap roll on the other end of the cable. To use, push the wrap roll down to the bottom of the arbor, spin the pallet, and let the weights pull the wrap slowly upward. As the roll gets lighter due to depleted wrap, just remove a weight or two to keep it in balance.
Or if you don't like the weights, you could use a winch to raise and lower the roll. You'd need a free hand for that one, though.

 More like 7ft...  I do think some sort of rod and stud would work as long as it wasn't too small a thread. Not keen on winches, weights or any ropes I'd not get it past the health and safety police! 

Thanks for your ideas and help on this RMS!

Do not mock the pneumatics, you heretic. Pneumatics are your friends.

I guess some people are pressure people and others are mechanical people?