Shrink Sleeves 101

Shrink sleeves are an innovative, cost-effective labeling and packaging solution. In its simplest form, a shrink sleeve consists of a heat-sensitive material that is seamed on one side with an opening on the top and bottom to form a sleeve. The sleeve is placed on the product either by hand or machine and heat is applied to shrink the sleeve onto the item. But what else should you know about shrink sleeves? Here are five things to consider when deciding if a shrink sleeve solution will work for you.

1. Sizing

When designing and ordering a shrink sleeve, a number of important measurements are taken. The slit width is the total width of the sleeve before it is seamed. Slightly smaller than the slit width, the critical art width is the area of the sleeve that is printed. A shrink sleeve’s layflat width is the width of the seamed sleeve or the width of the finished product. The cut length is the total height of the sleeve and the critical art height is the height of the printed area on the sleeve. Generally, the critical art height is 4 mm less than the cut length, leaving 2 mm on the top and the bottom of the sleeve without printing.

2. Printing & Varnishing

After the size of the shrink sleeve has been determined, art for the sleeve is sized appropriately and prepared for the printing process. In order to improve the scratch resistance, the imprint is applied to the inside of the material. Depending on how the sleeve is being applied to the container, a varnish may need to be applied over the printing to further ensure that the imprint does not scratch and the sleeves run smoothly on the application equipment. 

3. Perforations

Perforations are often used on shrink sleeves that will be applied to bottles with screw off tops to provide tamper resistance. They can also be applied to the side of a sleeve to allow easy removal. There can be up to two perforations per sleeve.

4. Seam & Fold Areas

When designing a shrink sleeve, the seam and fold areas must be considered. Important design components, such as ingredient information or UPC codes, should not be on a fold, as the fold can render these unreadable. Seams can fall in the center of the sleeve or off center.

5. Shrink Sleeve Finishing

Shrink sleeves can either be individually cut or finished on a roll depending on the application method. For many machine-applied shrink sleeves, the sleeves are finished on a roll; in this instance, the outer diameter of the roll, core size, and rewind position of the roll are critical to ensure it will work on the application equipment. 

CMC Group’s Century Label Division Becomes SQF Level 3 Certified


After creating quality labeling solutions for food and beverage manufacturers for more than 35 years, Century Label has taken its commitment to safety to the next level.

CMC Group, Inc./Century Label is now SQF (Safe Quality Food) Level 3 certified (Certificate No. 16114) as a manufacturer of printed labels and shrink sleeves for the food packaging industry. SQF Level 3 is a GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) approved scheme with a quality control component built in and is recognized by retailers and foodservice providers around the world who require a rigorous, credible food safety management system.

SQF and GMP Audits Completed by EAGLE Food Registrations Inc.

SQF and GMP Audits Completed by EAGLE Food Registrations Inc.

This certification is the latest instance of Century Label becoming more effective at responding to changing regulations and customer requirements within the consumables industry. In 2016, Century became GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified, which, according to the Institute of Food Research, is “a system to ensure that products meet food safety, quality and legal requirements.”

Century Label Earns Recognition from PEAK Awards

The Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA) announced that Century Label’s cold foil label for Strongman Whey Protein has been named as an Honorable Mention in the 2017 PEAK Awards competition, marking the fourth consecutive year that Century has been recognized by the awards.

This was Century Label’s first label to employ the cold foil technique, wherein the foil is pressed through a nip roller onto the substrate where a UV-curable adhesive has been printed and the product is exposed to UV light. The metallic foil, along with the bold red and black colors, gives the label a powerful, striking look.   

The pressure-sensitive label, which fits a 34.9 oz. container, was also created using HD Flexo printing, four-color process, and approximately 30,000 ft. of material (60,000 labels).

PSDA’s PEAK Awards, held in partnership with the Print Education & Research Foundation (PERF), recognize excellence in the print industry, promoting projects that display innovation, excellent quality, and produce high return on investment. Since 1995, the program has awarded teams that make bold decisions, connect with customers in new ways and deliver benefits to end users.

Century Label Wins Pewter Awards In the Annual Gold Ink Awards Competition

Both winning shrink sleeves were printed using the HP Indigo 8000.

Printing Impressions, the publication that produces the annual Gold Ink Awards, announced that Century Label has won two Pewter Awards in the Digital Printing, Labels & Packaging category. Both winning entries were shrink sleeves for craft beer cans.

The shrink sleeve for Great North Aleworks Tie Dyed pale ale is an eye catching piece that contrasts a variety of colors with a stark white. The sleeves accommodate the customer's intricate white plating without registration issues, and a frosted look on the clear areas was created using the HP Indigo varnish.

Sun King Brewing created The Eighteenth Sun imperial wheat IPA in collaboration with 18th Street Brewery for the CANvitational, a special annual event that Sun King holds along with dozens of breweries across the country in celebration of canned beer. The sleeve couples an intricate design with vibrant colors to create a visually stunning look.

The Gold Ink Awards competition is open to all creators and producers of printed materials, and encompasses nearly 50 categories within commercial printing, magazines, books, catalogs, digital printing and packaging. This year’s Gold Ink Award winners were chosen from nearly 1000 entries; winning pieces were chosen based on print quality, technical difficulty and overall visual effect.

A full list of this year’s winners can be found here.