Printing technologies and inks for shrink sleeve decoration

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Inks and the printing process are important considerations in the shrink sleeve production process. Shrink sleeves help the consumer to make a choice; they differentiate a product on the shelf with 360-degree decoration, and graphics and color play a significant role in the success of this labeling technology. Ink formulation and selection are therefore critical inputs to the finished shrink sleeve. They are also challenging to get right, given the very unusual demands that the shrink sleeve process puts on ink – that is, adhere to a film, and then shrink along with that film in a heat tunnel.

That being said, what do we need to know about printing processes, inks and coatings to make informed selections for optimum shrink sleeve printing and performance?

Sleeves can, of course, be printed with virtually any of the printing processes. While rotogravure remains the most popular method for high-volume sleeve printing, there has been significant growth in the use of flexo, and digital has grown in popularity for shorter runs.