Shrink sleeve labels are sleeves constructed from film material that, rather than using adhesive, shrinks to a product’s surface when heat is applied. This type of labeling allows the graphics to be printed around the entire circumference as well as take the shape of the product’s container. The eye-catching design of 360° graphics that form-fit containers has great consumer appeal.
Advantages of Shrink Sleeve Labels:
- Cost effective product labeling and decoration
- High end look and feel adds value to the product with eye catching design
- Allows labeling & decorating on complex shaped containers
- Eliminates custom printed containers
- One-off prototypes and short runs for market testing
- 360 degree graphics market the product from every angle
Many industries are rapidly adopting the 360° graphics that custom shrink sleeve labels provide. Extremely popular in food and beverage products, printed shrink sleeves can also be used to decorate pet products, personal care and cosmetic products, pharmaceuticals, retail products, and many more.
The film material used to create shrink sleeves is typically PVC, PETG, OPP, PLA, EPS, or a custom formulation. See our Technical Details page for more information on shrink sleeve film materials.
Custom shrink sleeves do not necessarily have to cover the entire surface area of a container, though they can as Full Body Shrink Sleeves. Shrink sleeves can cover only a portion of the container, such as the shoulder, and shrinks to fit once heat is applied, allowing unconventional contours to display sleek graphics that adhesive labels would not stick to without bunching. These labels will generally be placed on the body of the container, letting the cap or lid be sealed separately with a shrink band or through the use of some other type of seal, though it is possible to do it in one shot with one shrink sleeve. Custom Printed shrink sleeve labels can save in warehousing costs, especially when packaging different varieties of the same type of product. Instead of having to warehouse several different printed containers, only one blank container and the different product labels would need to be warehoused, greatly reducing the space needed for the variety of packaging.
Full body shrink sleeves form fit to the entire body of the container. They will shrink to fit the contour of the entire container, allowing it to be decorated 360 degrees from top to bottom, maximizing marketing space. Full body printed shrink sleeves can easily give an old product an updated appearance by using shrink sleeves to cover up the old label, or offer an opportunity to re-brand the product and create exceptional shelf appeal. The portion of the sleeve covering the cap or lid can be perforated, making it esier to remove while forming a tamper-evident band that gives customers piece of mind when buying your product. Full body shrink sleeve labels feature UV protection, something smaller labels cannot accomplish. Full body shrink sleeves can also be used to package two containers together with Combination Packaging.
Preforms are shrink film bands manufactured to fit particular shapes of containers, eliminating the need for custom designs. Preformed bands work especially well with reverse tapered containers and containers that do not have shoulders to hold the band in place before shrinking. As is the case with all shrink film, preforms will shrink to fit tightly around the container once heat is applied. These bands can be clear, colored, preprinted or custom printed. Preform bands can be easily applied by hand and sent through the heat shrinking process. Preforms are most commonly used as custom printed tamper-evident bands, or safety-seals.
Tamper-evident bands are one of the major uses of preform shrink film. These bands can be printed with warning messages or safety-seal text and are often used in conjunction with another type of warning label – advising that if the safety-seal provided by the tamper-evident band is broken the product may not be good. The use of tamper-evident bands promotes a sense of security to the consumer that the product has not been altered throughout the distribution process. Vertical and horizontal perforations can be added to make the band easier to remove. Custom printed tamper-evident bands are common in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Combination packaging uses shrink sleeves to package multiple containers together for the purpose of offering it as one product. Using form-fitting shrink sleeve material allows you to package different sized and shaped containers together easily. There are many benefits and reasons for combo packaging including:
After special combination packaging promotions are over, the shrink film can easily be removed from the bundled products without damaging the containers and they can be sold separately once again. Combination packaging is frequently used to promote household and personal care products.
Printing shrink film involves many intricate tasks. The material is very thin so getting the proper web tensions without snapping the film or creating tears is critical. The slick surface of shrink film makes it more difficult to get the ink to adhere and dry to, since you cannot use heat to dry the ink or the film will shrink. Once these tasks can be completed properly though, a very high quality product is produced.
Rotogravure, flexography, and digital printing processes are used to print on the shrink film. Many times, and an excellent idea to protect your investment, the label is reverse printed so that when the custom shrink label is applied to the product, the image will be on the inside of the label, next to the container, so that it is protected from scuffs and scratches on the outside from handling and storage.
Custom printed shrink sleeve labels can be produced in either individually cut labels or in roll form. The way in which the labels are produced will be determined by the way they will be applied to the container. If the labels are going to be applied by hand, most likely for short runs and prototypes, then individual cut labels will be supplied. If, however, the labels will be applied by automatic equipment, then they will be supplied in roll form so they can quickly and continuously be applied.
When shrink sleeve labels are going to be produced on a roll, it is important to know how the applicator will deliver the label to the container. This will determine the proper unwind direction for the labels to ensure that the printed shrink labels are not applied upside down on your container. Important factors like whether the applicator will deliver the labels from the top, bottom, or one of the sides, and whether the roll is threaded with the printing on the outside or inside will be necessary to make sure your labels are applied correctly.
After printing properly, the custom shrink sleeve labels can be applied by hand or with the automatic equipment. Then, the container with shrink sleeve is sent through a heat tunnel, which will cause the label to shrink and conform to the contours of the container. From this point, all that remains is to fill your container with product and let the aesthetically pleasing look of custom printed shrink sleeve labels sell your product!