Shrink sleeves are a relatively new type of label and are quickly gaining use for product packaging in a variety of markets. Manufacturers print sleeves on a digital or flexographic press, with text on the inside of the shrink sleeves. The sleeve is then slipped over a container and tightened around the container using heat (heat-shrunk). The label then conforms to the surface of the container.
Benefits of shrink sleeves
Shrink sleeves provide some of the most standout design possibilities and often reduce costs and turnaround times. They’re full-body labels that wrap around the entirety of a container, offering 360-degree branding and messaging on your product.
Many brands turn to shrink sleeve manufacturers to enhance the vibrancy of their designs and achieve one-of-a-kind labels. Shrink sleeves can be printed digitally, eliminating the need for printing plates and making them economical for short runs while ensuring the finest printing quality.
They offer a range of additional benefits, including:
- Versatile use on common or specialty containers
- Fast and easy design changes from run to run with digital presses
- Tamper-evident labels — shrink sleeves can go over a bottle’s cap to create a secure seal
- All sleeves can be moisture proof
- Abrasion resistance, as graphics are printed on the inside of the shrink sleeves
- Full recyclability of both the label and container because shrink sleeves can be easily removed since they use adhesive-free application
- Cost savings with generic containers, because shrink sleeves cover the entire container
Applications for shrink sleeve packaging
Generally speaking, shrink sleeves give you a 150% increase in label real estate for a mere 25% price increase over traditional pressure-sensitive labels. This additional space can be used for a myriad of purposes: Telling your brand story, including regulatory information or adding imagery of your product.
Beyond branding, sleeves are an attractive option because they allow you to add functionality to your product packaging, while saving money on total label and container costs. By extending the sleeve over the cap of a bottle, you can save money by eliminating the need for a drop-band closure or other more expensive tamper-evident options on the container itself. And incorporating a sleeve allows you to use a lighter bottle — reducing the cost and weight of your total packaging system.
These innovative labels are used on plastic, glass or metal containers and are common in a wide variety of markets. That’s because packaging buyers know the upfront cost of shrink sleeves is easily justified by the value they provide to their product’s packaging. Here are a couple potential applications for shrink sleeve packaging:
Tamper-evident shrink sleeve packaging
Sleeves are especially popular for food and beverage labels, particularly juices, energy drinks and alcoholic beverages, because they offer tamper-evident seals. They’re common on pharmaceutical and nutraceutical labels for the same reason.
More space on packaging for branding and regulatory information
Shrink sleeves also make it easy to comply with regulations or maximize shelf impact, as text and graphics can be updated on the shrink sleeves, which are easy to remove from containers without wasting the containers themselves.
Abrasion, moisture and product resistance
They’re common on household cleaning products now too (detergents, soaps, cleaning agents), as they can use highly durable materials that withstand moisture, friction and high temperatures.
Although shrink sleeves packaging might cost more initially, the value of the uplift in brand and brand share far outweighs any marginal or incremental cost of the sleeve itself.
Applying shrink sleeves to your products
Shrink sleeves are typically machine-applied and heat-shrunk onto containers using steam tunnels. Steam tunnels use relatively low temperatures (often 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit), a safe environment for most filled products. If you prefer not to purchase the necessary equipment, you can partner with copackers who apply shrink sleeves.
What to look for in a shrink sleeve manufacturer
Shrink sleeve manufacturing is one of the most complex processes in the labeling industry. That’s why you need to look for a shrink sleeve manufacturer with proven experience in producing sleeves for a variety of container shapes.
Expertise matters. It’s what will allow your shrink sleeve manufacturer to choose the right shrink material for your container’s shape and modify your graphics to prevent shrink distortion during pre-press. And ultimately, proven expertise is the difference between a label that blends in and a label that stands out.
Our capabilities and services
We provide a robust range of label design and printing capabilities, including the design and printing of shrink sleeves for a wide variety of uses. We can supply shrink sleeves even for specialty applications, including multi-pack sleeves and pack sample promotions. With our robust printing capabilities, we can meet any design customization, including those that use cold foil labels, UV metallic inks, custom matte or gloss finishes and much more.
Even more importantly, we guide you through the label process from start to finish, making it easy for you. Our experienced team provides hands-on service to ensure your label uses the best structure and materials and meets your budget and schedule needs. You get the best bang for your buck and a label that’s just right for your brand, budget and product. Request a consultation today to get started.