Shrink Sleeve Growth Fuels Technology


The average supermarket shopping list usually included a product type rather than specific brands. Although, many customers enter retail outlets with a predisposition to a certain brand, many times the final decision is made in the aisle. Many factors come into play during that split second decision. Brand name recognition and brand loyalty, and past experiences are among the top factors.

However eye-catching products with uniquely shaped bottles or brightly colored labels are difficult for consumers to ignore. Furthermore, a dramatically differentiated product with enhanced shelf presence can significantly sway consumers, regardless of brand.

In the 1990’s Consumet Product Good Companies had little selection un the shape and design of their products’ packages. Typical cylindrical bottles and jars with pressure sensitive labels was the norm. However, with the developmen and exponential growth of shrink sleeves, brand owners have been able to differentiate products by using compelling contoured shapes that in turn attract shelf attention and allow more ergonomic packaging designs. Many of the benefits of shrink sleeve for CPG’s include, huge display area, virtually 360º degrees coverage that allows CPG’s to advertise their products with eye catching graphics.

Though shrink sleeve labels expand, package aesthetics and design potential, many consumers may perceive them as a relatively expensive label type, causing them to suspect an unnecessarily heightened product cost. On the contrary shrink sleeve labels provide unseen savings by allowing brand owners to eliminate tamper evident drop bands, remove colorant from closures and bottles, and reduce or eliminate UV inhibitors in the package. Furthermore even when compared to the advertising area/cost of label, sleeve can represent 150 percent more container coverage for only an approximate 25 percent cost increase over conventional labels.

North America made up about 25 percent of global shrink sleeve sales in 2011. According to presentations at the AWA International Sleeve Label Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio last April, although shrink sleeve adoption slowed in the second half of 2011, shrink sleeves achieved a 6.5 percent growth in North America and Europe. It is expected that shrink sleeve will continue to grow at 5 percent to 5.5 percent annually for the next few years. Furthermore in a recent poll of CPG brand owners over 40 % responded that they are actively investing in shrink sleeve labeling application system.

Converting Technologies Allow for Shorter Runs

With this increased demand, North American label and flexible packaging converters have found a need to invest and improve on current shrink sleeve converting equipment. New technologies from Accraply, Karlville and Hewlett-Packard have opened new doors for shrink sleeve converters.

According to a representative from “Accrapply/Stanford sees a steady growth for the shrink sleeve market in North America and in other parts of the world. We are seeing strong demando for our shrink sleeve converting equipment”. With the move toward thinner more “eco-friendly” films, new challenges have placed demands on equipment and processes. In addition, as run lengths are getting shorter, there is a new focus on equipment designed to minimize downtime, on automation to facilitate quick set-ups, while consistently monitoring and reporting on quality metrics.

Karlville, a leading global manufacturer of shrink sleeve converting and shrink sleeve application equipment recently introduced its K5 shrink converting line. ” The K5 is our top end converting machine that allow converters the highest production reliability and high quality results” says Raul Matos, VP Sales and Marketing at Karlville Development. “This is the new standard in the USA with over 25 machines installed in North America”. “A key advantage of our Karlville Beyond Converting seamer is our secondary micro edge guide for the solvent needle. This allows us to position the solvent tru;y on the edge of the film for best industry finish. We have developed a wick system attachement for the needle to spread the solvent bead prior to the nip. This, along with our segment roller for soft folding with PLC controlled oscillation gives the best roll appearance in the industry” says Matos.

In terms of quality control, the machine comes with a QC package for the measurement of the layflat, the detection of splices and open seams. The integrated QC package with labeler uses a servo motor to automatically attach a label at speeds of 400 meter per minute when the machine detects and open seam with UV detector or splice or layflat issue via the layflat monitoring system.

The improvements in set up time, seaming time, and quality control systems in shrink sleeve converting equipment coupled with the proliferation of digital print technology of shrink sleeves, particularly from the HP line of Indigo digital presses, has allowed with shroter press runs. This allows CPG’s to customize product decoration for special promotions, samples, multiple SKU’s, serialization and localization. Although significanlty more expensive that flexo and gravure per sleeve, with digital printing there are no plate costs, perfect registration, and unmatched print quality, allowing for prototypes and shrot batch print production trials.

Along with digital printing technology, the STEAMBOX from Karlville has allowed for full product prototyping to ensure proper layflat, distortion and CPG’s product designations.” The Steambox is designed to ensure feasibility of shrink sleeve projects by simulating the shrinkage process of full size steam tunnels. Prototyping tests made by the STEAMBOX allows for material validation and shapes” says Matos.


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