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Shrink Labels

Shrink labels are non-adhesive sleeves constructed from film material that shrinks when heat is applied. Film material such as PVC, PETG, OPP and PP are used in the manufacturing of these labels. For more details on the types of film used for shrink labels, see Labels - Paper - Non-Adhesive.

Shrink labels allow 360 degrees of print area and will conform to the shape of the container when heat is applied. This allows the packaging company to use some uniquely shape containers that have extreme contours without compromising the copy or graphics. Using shrink labels provides an opportunity to decorate the container with some very eye catching designs. It also provides more printing space for product information since the label can be printed the entire 360 degrees versus a pressure sensitive label that would only allow a certain area of the container to be labeled. There are many product areas in which shrink labels are used, such as food and beverage products, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, cosmetics, personal care products and pesticides.

There are several types of shrink labels used. Listed below are some of the common types.

Full Body Shrink Sleeves

The full body shrink sleeve fits the entire body of the container. They will shrink to fit the contour of the entire container and allows the whole container, 360 degrees from top to bottom, to be decorated, creating excellent shelf appeal. The top of the sleeve can be perforated to form a tamper-evident band. The full body shrink sleeve can give an old product an updated appearance by covering the old label. Full body sleeves also provide another feature, UV protection. Smaller labels cannot accomplish this.

The full body shrink sleeves can also be used to package two containers together (see Combo Banding below). It can also save in warehousing costs when packaging different varieties of the same type of product. Instead of having to warehouse several different printed containers, only one blank container would need to be warehoused.
Shrink Sleeves

Shrink sleeves are basically the same as the full body shrink sleeve except it does not cover the full body of the container. It will generally be placed somewhere on the body of the container and the container is sealed separately with a shrink band or by some other type of seal.



Preforms are shrink film bands that are preformed to fit a particular container. When heat is applied they shrink to fit tight around the lid of the container. They are manufactured to fit the shape of your container. They work well with reverse tapered containers or ones that do not have shoulders to hold the band in place before shrinking.

Preforms can be clear, colored or preprinted or you can have them custom printed. Vertical and horizontal perforations can be added to make the band easier to remove. Preforms can be easily applied by hand and then sent through a heat tunnel for shrinking.

Tamper-Evident Bands - One of the major uses of performs is as a tamper-evident band. These bands are preprinted with a warning message and are many times used in combination with another type of label. The use of a tamper-evident band promotes a sense of security to the consumer that the product has not been tampered with throughout the distribution cycle. Tamper-evident bands are frequently used in the food and pharmaceutical packaging area.


Promotional Combo Banding

Promotional combo banding is the use of a shrink label to package two containers together for the purpose of offering it as one product. Using the shrink label for banding purposes allows you to easily package different size and shape containers together. Generally when products are combo packaged there is a cost savings to the consumer, compared to buying them separate. Some of the promotional reasons for combo banding products are listed below.

  • Promotion of a new product
  • Help to sell slow moving items
  • To increase sales during slow periods
  • Introduction of a complementary product

When the promotional period is over, the combo package can be separated and the items can be sold as separate products. Combo banding is frequently used in the promotion of household and personal care products.

Printing of the shrink film is not always an easy task. The material is very thin so getting the web tensions just right is critical. The slippery surface of the shrink film makes it hard to get the ink to adhere to it. Using the proper ink is critical and getting it to dry without using heat is another problem. Once these tasks are mastered, a very high quality product can be produced. Rotogravure and flexography are the printing processes generally used. Many times the label is reverse printed so that when the label is applied, the image will be protected from scuffs and scratches.

The labels can be applied by hand or by automatic equipment. The container, along with the shrink sleeve, is then sent through a heat tunnel, which will cause the label to shrink and conform to the contour of the container.

Shrink labels can be furnished in either individual cut pieces or in roll form. The way in which the labels are supplied is determined by the way in which they will be applied to the container. If the label is to be applied by hand, you would want individual cut labels. If the labels will be applied by automated equipment, you would want them in roll form.

When ordering the labels on a roll, be sure that you indicate the proper unwind direction. You will need to know how the applicator will deliver the label to the container. Does it deliver the label from the top, bottom or one of the sides, and is the roll threaded with the printing on the outside or inside? This is information that is needed to ensure that your labels will be applied properly to the containers.

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