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Overcome the challenges of shrink sleeve labels on unique container shapes

Brands are always looking for ways to convey their visual identities — including uncommon product containers.

Shrink sleeves provide the greatest opportunity to enhance those unique shapes by providing 360-degree coverage – maximizing the space for branding and customer information. Shrink sleeve design opens a world of possibilities, but it can also have challenges.

Artwork distortions could occur during the process of applying the shrink sleeve to the container. The solution is powerful modeling tools and best-in-class processes to ensure your shrink sleeve will be smooth and properly fitted onto the final product.

Visualize your shrink design with 3D modeling

From simple cylinders to cans or even trigger bottles, shrink sleeves expand the variety of unique container options that can be labeled. A packaging partner offering 3D modeling can help you preview the final labeled product, to better understand how your design might need to be modified for real-world application.

The first step is to scan the container with a 3D scanner. This scan produces a 3D CAD model of your package, which can be used to map a shrink sleeve and predict its behavior during the application process.

“The software modeling allows us to predict any potential distortion,” says Kody Swaim, Product Manager, Resource Label Group. “You can pre-distort the model and view the 3D template to see how the design will be impacted. That’s the key. You can’t design in 2D and expect a great 3D result.”

“The flat graphic may look odd, but when you actually apply it to the container, it will conform perfectly. The label will shrink, predictably, the result is that your lines and graphics flatten to exactly where you want them.”

The ability to cover the entire surface area of curved and unique containers delivers the potential for high-quality graphics, pictures and text. But what Swaim emphasizes is that it’s important to have a label partner who has an expert team. They should have the knowledge and experience to recognize and correct for any challenges in the design by using advanced 3D modeling.


The Power of the Process

Most shrink sleeve producers have modeling software, but the best packaging outcomes require an established process that manages and accounts for distortion.

According to Swaim, “The 3D scan and prediction might get you 85%, 90% of the way there, but there’s going to be some variations. For instance, experienced engineers will understand how a label is going to truly behave at any size throughout the application process.”

Communication and collaboration during production is also critical to success. After the design and prototyping phase, the actual label and packaging application might be handled by co-packers. How the shrink sleeve is applied, which materials are used, and the size of the container, can all affect output.

Your label solution provider and your co-packer or manufacturing plant need to ensure that they are on the same page when it comes to meeting expectations. Relying on a 3D model helps guide the final application process.

Ultimately, successful execution of shrink sleeve labels on irregularly shaped containers depends on state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology combined with a track record of skill and expertise.

“Resource Label Group is the most awarded printer of shrink sleeves in the world,” says Swaim. “We get the highest quality outcomes because we work with the leading shrink sleeve distortion software and apply decades of experience and knowledge to every project.”

Swaim warns that there are competitors entering this space because shrink sleeves have become a hot growth product. “You don’t want your product to be on someone else’s shrink sleeve learning curve,” he said. “We’ve already been there, done that and perfected the process.”

Ready to revolutionize your labels?

Reach out to our skilled team at Resource Label Group to find out how we can help your branding reach the next level. Together, we can create a beautiful label that helps tell your company’s story to the world.

Find the best solution that makes the most sense for your brand.