Did you know that nearly 18% of all label production is shrink? With brand demand for increased label real estate growing, narrow-web converters are beginning to financially benefit from the rise in popularity at an unprecedented rate.
Beyond identifying the right flexo and/or digital hybrid technology to best support your specific needs, the shrink workflow can be intimidating for printers new to the application. But with the right partners, it's a very penetrable market for those looking for a straightforward segue to new business.
Designing Art Suited for Distortion
After receiving an art file from a brand owner, the next step is to properly distort the file to ensure proper distortion when heat is applied to the shrink sleeve label.
In-House Distortion: Grid Tests
There’s no one size fits all when distorting files for shrink. Traditionally, grid tests are used by printing a grid pattern inside the product art template, running production, then manually notating creases and crevices on containers to compare to the art layout, identifying edits to assure application success. It’s a tried and true process but is quite time-consuming.
Box 3: In-House Design: ESKO Studio
The 3D software gives users the ability to create art specific to container shapes so design can be applied to the shape with accurate visualization. Developed to support pre-press operators and packaging designers, Studio is a time-efficient and creative alternative to grid tests.
Box 4: Additional Pre-Press Considerations
From platemaking to file manipulation, there is still work to be done before printing can occur. If these tasks are outside of your team’s wheelhouse, that doesn’t mean shrink is out of reach; reputable pre-press shops have the knowledge to become a strong and supportive industry partner in your shrink endeavor.
Recipe for Success
It may take some trial and error, but it’s a necessary evil to curate the perfect combination of ink, primer and substrate to provide the highest quality product. Having the right consumables experts can alleviate much of the pain associated with creating that secret recipe by eliminating much of that trial and error with their industry knowledge and ability to capitalize on wide network for testing purposes..
Printing Narrow Web Shrink with the Right Technology
Whether you’re looking for the capability to upsell a pressure sensitive label to shrink with flexo or the opportunity to maximize a digital hybrid inkjet investment by expanding offerings to include shrink, the demand for the application is growing.
Retrofitting Current Technology for Shrink
It’s not always necessary or realistic to make a huge capital investment to produce shrink sleeves. Your existing press may need simple upgrades to provide a path to shrink application, such as adding a chill drum at the drying stations or utilizing LED curing.
Sleeve Application - Seaming
From properly designing lay flat art to support seaming to utilizing the best compatible solvent for the material used to selecting the equipment that best suits your seaming needs, seaming is a complex process, nearing the end of the workflow with many variables at hand.
The Final Step - Heat Application
While there are many different ways to apply heat to a seamed shrink sleeve, the best results steam from the uniform spread of temperature. This is most often achieved via a third-party packaging partner with equipment that provides evenly-distributed heat via hot air tunnel, steam tunnel or some hybrid technology.
About the Author
Amanda Flower is a Marketing Specialist at Mark Andy's global headquarters located in St. Louis, Missouri. She is an experienced B2B content creator with a penchant for marketing automation, brand management and thinking outside of the box.