Frequently Asked Questions About Shrink Sleeve Labels

Frequently Asked Questions About Shrink Sleeve Labels

Shrink sleeve labels (commonly known as ‘shrink sleeves’) are one of the fastest growing segments in the label industry. As companies continue to update their packaging to stay fresh and the demand for eye-catching designs continue to rise, more companies are switching from traditional pressure sensitive labels to shrink sleeves. Compared to pressure sensitive labels, shrink sleeves offer more design flexibility and they make products stand out whether on a store shelf or website. We understand that shrink sleeves can seem complicated but our experienced team of printing professionals can assist you every step of the way. That’s why we’ve also compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about shrink sleeve labels to help you get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to receive a first time order of shrink sleeves?

  • The typical lead time is four to six weeks depending on the complexity of the job and how quickly artwork is approved. Shrink sleeve reorders take less time, about one to two weeks depending on the order.

How am I going to shrink the sleeves onto the container?

  • Please note that we don’t recommend applying shrink sleeves with a blow dryer, microwave or shrink wrap tunnel because shrink sleeves need to be applied with a uniform spread of heat. Shrink sleeve application should be done with equipment made specifically for shrinking, like a radiant heat tunnel, hot air tunnel, steam tunnel or hybrid tunnel.

What is the minimum number of shrink sleeves I can order?

  • Due to the complexity of shrink sleeve labeling, the minimum order is 5,000 shrink sleeves.

Can I receive a sample of my finished product?

  • Yes, we offer prototyping for an additional charge. Prototyping is usually used for sales and promotional purposes. Please contact our customer service team to learn more.

How do you measure a container for a shrink sleeve?

  • There are five measurements needed to determine the sleeve size: layflat size, print width, slit width, cut length and print height. To ensure the accuracy of the measurements, customers should send a sample of the container to customer Service to calculate the measurements and run a test sample of the shrink sleeve.

What is the seam?

  • A seam is where the edges of the shrink material are glued together to make sleeves before they become cut sleeves or sleeves on a roll. Seam location will vary from one shrink sleeve to another depending on variables like container shape and style, automatic or hand application and artwork design. The seam should be placed where it makes sense like the back or side of the product where it has the least impact on graphics.

How should shrink sleeve labels be stored?

  • The construction and material of shrink sleeves make it pretty durable for transportation and storage, however, shrink sleeves should be kept in a cool environment between the temperatures of 30 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (ideally below 77 degrees). If shrink sleeves are stored in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, the sleeves might prematurely shrink from the heat making them unusable for application.

What are PVC and PETG?

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-modified (PETG) are two commonly used shrink sleeve materials.

  • PVC – Easiest to control, generally the most cost-effective and offers good scuff resistance. Unit cost is less and it works better on some applications than PETG. There are two types of PVC – high shrink PVC and standard PVC.
  • PETG – Offers the best scuff resistance, has the highest percentage of shrink ability and easily recyclable. It’s also more stable and readily available. More customers are choosing PETG over PVC because it’s more readily available.

Are there certain containers that can’t use a shrink sleeve?

  • Shrink sleeves can fit onto almost any kind of container shape and material. Shrinking a sleeve onto a shape that tapers downward, however, presents a challenge because the sleeve won’t be able to grip the bottom of the container. Additionally, the heat in the steam tunnel can do damage to a container if it’s not made to withstand above a certain temperature.

Can a shrink sleeve have a barcode or UPC code on it?

  • Yes, however, there are a couple factors to keep in mind to ensure the barcode will be able to scan. Printing the code on a curve can cause issues with scanning so the code should be placed on the least curved portion of the container. To improve scanning ability, make the code vertical instead of horizontal. Seam location is also important when designing the code’s location because placing the code too close to the seam can affect scanning ability.

Who should I call about equipment?

How much should I budget for equipment?

  • The amount you spend on equipment varies depending on the size of your operation. At an entry level, you can spend as little as $25,000. For a fully integrated line, your costs can be hundreds of thousands of dollars for all the necessary equipment. There are copackers who will apply your sleeves if you don’t want to purchase equipment

How much more does shrink sleeve labels cost than pressure sensitive labels?

  • The material for shrink sleeves and pressure-sensitive labels are relatively the same, however, shrink sleeves use more material per application than pressure-sensitive labels. Depending on the complexity and volume of your shrink sleeves job, materials tend to cost more than traditional pressure-sensitive labels.

How do I request a quote?

  • You can request a quote by speaking with customer service. For an estimate quote, you will have to know the container’s circumference and height so the customer service representative can give you a more accurate estimate. For a firm quote, you must send a sample of the container to your customer service representative.

Why do high shrink areas affect color?

  • If an ink is not properly spread out in the places where it comes together closely, the density of the ink in the high shrink areas will increase because shrinking causes colors to appear denser. To ensure an even coloring throughout the label design, computer software is used to determine how dense the color should be in the high shrink areas.

For more information or to place an order, please call us at 1-800-475-2235 or fill out the contact form below.