Home » What’s on-trend in shrink sleeves?

What’s on-trend in shrink sleeves?

Shrink sleeve labels represent booming business, thanks to the ever-growing need for packaging that causes consumer goods to leap off shelves and into trolleys.

Shrink sleeve labels represent booming business, thanks to the ever-growing need for packaging that causes consumer goods to leap off retail shelves and into shopping trolleys. Gill Loubser compiles a round-up of latest news.

Shrink sleeve labels are glossy, colourful and versatile. They conform to any number of container shapes, and their superior graphics allow for customised branding.

What consumers don’t see, however, is the careful material selection behind each label, the particular properties of the films that facilitate such eye-catching graphics.

Label material selection, and particularly the thorny matter of recyclability, is among key topics. Also vital are the ever-improving technologies from the makers of printing and converting machinery and related consumables.

A recent in-depth study of the dynamic sleeve labelling market, published by AWA Alexander Watson Associates, provides an update on its current status and confirms how strongly sleeve labelling technology has established itself in a relatively short timescale.

Today claiming around 18% of the overall global label market, it is a maturing technology, but growth remains strong, at an annual 5.5%. The study reveals that most of this volume comes from heat shrink sleeves, representing around 88% of usage.  

Across all sleeve label formats – heat shrink, stretch sleeve, ROSO MD sleeve, and RFS MD sleeve – the major end-use market sector is, of course, beverages, at 66% of volumes, with food-related applications now in second place at 19%.

The study also examines the different sleeve material substrates used for each format, as well as the structure of related supply chains, and documents regional market characteristics.

From resin manufacture through converting and printing to application technologies, as well as legislative and recycling challenges, AWA’s Global Sleeve Label Market Study 2018 provides a thorough understanding of the technology today and tomorrow for all involved in the supply chain, and for those considering future market entry.

For further details, or to order the report online, visit www.awa-bv.com.

The PDC R-300 applies shrink labels to either empty or full beverage cans at speeds in excess of 300 cans/min.

Shrink sleeves on the rise for craft beers

Another trend is the widespread acceptance of shrink sleeve labelling on beer cans in craft and micro-breweries.

A great benefit of shrink sleeving is the ability to design highly attractive, graphic labels. Shrink sleeve labels are printed on flexible shrink film, then formed into tubes. They come into the plant either in roll form for machine application or precut for hand application. Once heated through a shrink tunnel, the film shrinks and conforms tightly to the shape of the can, producing an eye-catching product.

Manufactured in the US is the PDC R-300 can labelling system that’s said to be ideal to tackle the job of shrink sleeving beer cans, allowing micro-brewers to avoid the large minimum quantities required to print aluminium cans, and to purchase and label smaller quantities as needed. In addition, the system provides the speed, technology and cost-effectiveness sought by small craft brewers.

Fresh material innovations from Klöckner Pentaplast

So far as material innovations are concerned, last year saw the addition of Pentalabel eklipse, a new light-blocking film, to Klöckner Pentaplast’s extensive Pentalabel shrink label film line-up – available in South Africa from Kamboo Marketing.

Now the company is also marketing a Pentalabel shrink film that’s especially preprimed for use in conjunction with the digital printing process.

For sleeve label applications involving digital print with HP Indigo and other similar presses, Klöckner Pentaplast offers the following recommendations for slitting, printing and seaming when processing preprimed Pentalabel Y460 PETG film.

For slitting, male/female rotary shear blades are preferred to create clean edges and avoid belled rolls. Controlled tension and good winding practices should be used to avoid crushed cores, starring, telescoping and soft rolls; and slit rolls should be wound on to a core size suitable for the digital printer’s unwind shaft.

This film has received three-star certification for HP Indigo 4000 and 6000 series presses.

For seaming, standard techniques such as 5 to 7mm overlap, soft edge winding and 18 to 20 oscillations/cycle with the standard 15mm oscillation distance is recommended.

Another new product is a rigid PETG film for shrink sleeve label applications.

Oriented in transverse direction, it eliminates the dreaded ‘smiley’ effect that occurs through machine direction growth.

The film is one-side antistatic coated and features standard shrinkage rates. It’s recommended for use in steam and hot air shrink tunnels.

As with all Klöckner Pentaplast labelling films, these products are being handled by Kamboo Marketing’s strong sales team, headed by the company’s owner, Hannes Kritzinger, and Gauteng director, Jacques Human, and supported by Cape Town sales manager, Russell Muller.

Other Kamboo news is that the company is now representing Kohli, an Indian manufacturer of gravure presses, laminating equipment and slitter-rewinders.

‘We have ordered our own slitting machine from Kohli, to be installed at our Western Cape warehouse in Brackengate,’ explains Hannes Kritzinger. ‘This unit will be used for our own converting activities but will double up as a demonstration model for our customers.’

In May 2019, Kamboo’s Cape operation is also moving to larger premises, located directly behind the current premises, to accommodate increased consumable sales and converting activities. Construction on the new building starts next month.

SA Litho moves fast forward in shrink sleeve market

Among the growing number of converters now involved in shrink sleeve production is SA Litho Label Printers, a division of CTP Limited.

SA Litho boasts a reputation as a total solutions provider – with a product portfolio that includes litho-printed wet-glue labels, flexo-printed self-adhesive labels and digitally-printed self-adhesive labels, and now – its latest diversification – shrink sleeves.

This ever-burgeoning and wide-ranging portfolio cements the company’s position in the label market as a total solutions provider.

According to CTP Western Cape director, Leon Witbooi, the decision to enter this market arose from the growing popularity of shrink sleeves as a packaging format, the attraction of an annual compound growth rate that exceeds other traditional labelling technologies.

‘However, our decision to enter the shrink sleeve market also reflects our unwavering commitment to meeting our customers’ continually-developing needs,’ adds Jon Williams, SA Litho sales manager.

In his view, the strongly-growing popularity of shrink sleeves stems from a variety of factors – not least the daring, full-exposure appearance that’s created.

‘With 360° artwork, packaging becomes a marketing billboard,’ he comments. ‘And among many other benefits, shrink sleeves also allow for SKU flexibility.’

SA Litho prides itself on the production of premium-quality shrink sleeves for a variety of container shapes and is firmly positioned in a number of markets, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food and beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

Using the latest flexo and digital printing technologies offered by SA Litho, brand owners of all sizes and scale can benefit from shrink sleeves as a key packaging solution.

The production of shrink sleeves is highly technical with little margin for error. As a result, precision and quality is of utmost importance throughout the production process, which is why SA Litho has invested in state-of-the-art equipment.

As previously reported (PPM May 2018), this includes an AccraSeam shrink sleeve seamer and an ancillary DM12 shrink sleeve inspector. This automated line-up delivers predictable quality and superb production efficiency.

‘With unrivalled technical expertise, limitless shrink sleeve capabilities and a reputation as a premium-quality converter, we pride ourselves on our ability to consistently meet customer expectations,’ Jon concludes.

Siyakha takes shrink sleeves into homecare market

Another go-ahead converter is Siyakha Imperial Print Co, whose CEO, Rajesh Lutchman, points out that any number of new applications for shrink sleeves are regularly appearing on retail shelves, the latest being for homecare products.

‘Recent market reports show that shrink sleeves are making aggressive inroads into the homecare sector, with market-leading brands such as Harpic, Dettol and Windolene now available in trigger packs with full body shrink sleeves,’ Rajesh comments.

‘The design of the trigger pack allows for easy application and minimum spillage or wastage, and the colourful graphics provide excellent on-shelf visibility,’ he reports.

Siyakha Imperial produces such sleeves for a number of its multinational customers. As Rajesh points out, the contents of homecare products are highly aggressive, so extensive tests have to be conducted on film and inks to ensure these packs retain their high-quality appearance throughout their lifetime.

‘It’s interesting to see a category that has traditionally used very basic labelling (remember the bleach bottle with its two-colour paper label that stayed under the kitchen sink!) now embracing the benefits of 360° full-colour labelling,’ Rajesh notes. ‘Competition on retail shelves is fierce, so on-shelf appeal in now non-negotiable,’ he adds.

Market feedback reveals that competitive brands are carefully watching consumer response and considering similar moves into shrink sleeves.

Africa’s largest shrink sleeve for pet treats

With 360° wraparound shelf impact and endless design possibilities, many brands are discovering how shrink sleeves can benefit their marketing strategies. For instance, as reported in Clive’s Column earlier this year (but it bears repetition!), Quiet Brooke Trading manufactures Nutriphase biscuit treats exclusively for Pick n Pay and designed a gift tin that pet owners would want to keep in their kitchens all year.

It was a collaborative effort between Packology and Ren-Flex – using South Africa’s first HP Indigo 20000 digital press – to develop Africa’s largest (240mm high) shrink sleeve to date. Packology’s sister company, Revolution, a specialist in high-quality, short-run shrink sleeve applications, puts it all together.

Clomark, setting an ace up your sleeve

Exquisite sleeves are in this season, and Clomark is helping brand owners to keep packaging trendy and fresh!

‘For many customers still restricted to conventional self-adhesive labelling, the idea of moving to shrink sleeves may be perplexing, but we’re stepping right in to help them every step of the way,’ says Jocelyn Munsami, Clomark’s national sales manager.

‘More and more customers are adopting the shrink sleeve concept of labelling bottles, thanks to our team providing a turnkey solution. Customers simply need to provide us with their containers and brief us on their design concepts. We have the technical expertise to provide a sleeve that will perfectly fit on the container and can recommend the appropriate design, materials and technology to be used,’ she adds.

Clomark’s Design Studio creates magic, converting concepts into reality in the form of a shrink sleeve that attract consumers in-store. As Clomark handles the entire flow of information, brand owners are relieved of the pressure of dealing with a design house and transferring information to a print house and hoping it all comes together.

Clomark works directly with the customer’s design studio, or proposes its own designs based around a customer’s ideas. A professional photography service is also available on-site. The illustration on the opposite page was styled, photographed and edited by the Clomark team.

A seamless transition to shrink sleeves

Attractive shrink sleeves can be achieved through the application of foiling, inks, varnishes and other special effects to provide on-shelf ‘bling’. Clomark’s team thrives on achieving success with challenging or complex designs, satisfying and delighting customers in the process.

Says head of operations, Dhiraj Chirkoot: ‘We’re proud to have acquired the top shrink sleeve seaming equipment by global standards. We supply sleeves either in single units or on continuous reels, as required by applicators. Advanced technology tests the seam integrity on the run. Perforations create tamper-evident properties, giving the sleeve additional value, and our complementary in-house laboratory is customised to perform appropriate tests such as tensile strength and peel tests, eliminating downstream issues.’

In addition to providing shrink sleeves, Clomark provides guidance in container decoration. Various technologies are available to shrink the sleeve on to the container, and choosing the correct technology is vital to ensure consistent production of a well-formed sleeve. Clomark also provides sleeve applicators to those customers requiring this technology at their own sites. This helps to reduce logistic costs by removing one element from the supply chain. For customers not wanting the hassle of applying the sleeves themselves, Clomark provides alternative solutions.

In addition, Clomark offers a wide range of printed packaging – from shrink sleeves and self-adhesive labels, to cartons and packaging inserts. Customers enjoy the convenience in procuring various packaging formats for a particular project from one source. The added advantage is improved brand consistency across all packaging types within a product range.

Along with shrink sleeves, Clomark’s servo-driven printing and finishing equipment extends the company’s manufacturing capability to various types of flexible packaging including wrappers, sachets and similar products.

In closing, Clomark MD, Shyam Chirkoot, says: ‘We pride ourselves on not just being a print operation, but a partner to our customers, ensuring long-lasting business relationships through shared values and bringing in the element of creativity. We’re deadline and challenge driven, helping customers achieve success and growth. And so far as sleeves go, I have always found them to be quite dressy!’