When Does it Pay to Flex Your Packaging? Flexible Packaging 101

Part 1 of a 3-part Series on Flexible Packaging.

There are times when it’s wise to be rigid. In matters of principle. In important areas of self-discipline. And, sometimes, in your packaging choices.

However – there are also times when flexibility can be the wise choice. Here, we’ll stick with flexibility as it relates to packaging. We’ll leave matters of the heart, raising children, and self-indulgence for another time.

Glass and plastic bottles and containers will always have their place in the packaging world. Their ability to hold and display a wide range of products – as only they can – will ensure that. But, for some product manufacturers, flexible packaging offers strong benefits over plastic and glass.

We’ll explore flexible packaging in this three-part series.

What is flexible packaging?

Pouches, films, bags, envelopes, sachets, wraps, stick packs and foils – stand-up and lay-flat – are types of flexible packaging widely used by manufacturers today. Chances are, you’ve seen flexible packaging on store shelves and in coolers everywhere. Products ranging from juice, to nuts; candies, to jerky – even lawn & garden products – can be found in flexible packaging.

These are the packages that flex to hold product and flatten to be disposed of while taking up less space in trash receptacles and landfills. They are easy to transport, don’t break, take up less space on store shelves, coolers, home pantries and refrigerators.

From the consumer’s viewpoint, flexible packaging can provide the convenience to enjoy products on the go with single serve portions that can bend, fold and be stored almost anywhere. There’s also the desirable ability to provide resealable product packaging and tolerance to microwave oven temperatures.

Why flexible packaging?

From the perspective of product manufacturers, flex packaging can offer a multitude of benefits – for the right products and conditions.

Flex packaging can reduce packaging costs, minimize waste, and attract attention. Yes, well-designed, quality printed flexible packaging can help get your products noticed among the competition in stores and pharmacies, especially when lined up against plastic bottles and containers.

The right flexible packaging solution can do all this while protecting the condition and freshness of your products.

No label required.

Flexible packaging requires no label because the graphics and product information are printed directly onto the packaging material. This allows manufacturers to showcase high quality graphics on packaging that also protects the contents with an air-tight seal. Century Label offers FDA-approved finishes to further prevent moisture from affecting the product inside.

Flexible packaging and digital printing – a powerful duo.

Century Label is a leader in digital flexible packaging. Our advanced digital print equipment and capabilities allow us to provide short- to medium-run custom flexible packaging at the highest quality and quickest turnaround in the industry.

Here are a few of the benefits of digitally printed flex packaging:

  • Cost Savings - No plate charges, print-on-demand so no inventory required, no waste due to obsolescence
  • Customizable - Use variable data to target any demographic or promotional opportunity
  • Speed-to-Market -Shipping ten business days from approval of artwork
  • Low Minimum Quantities - Ideal for short runs and multi-SKU jobs
  • High Print Quality - High Definition quality, extended color gamut, perfect registration

For long-run jobs, Century Label capabilities include flexo printing for flexible packaging, which may offer cost savings over digital. Our experts can help you determine which method is best for your needs.

When is flexible packaging the best choice?

As you consider your packaging options, our experts can help. Once we gain a knowledge of your products, processes, logistics, and customers, we’ll recommend the best packaging size and structure for your product.

If you already have a package specification in mind, let us know and we’ll work with you on maximizing efficiencies while meeting your packaging, messaging, and merchandising needs.

Here are some important factors to keep in mind when considering various packaging options:

  • How do your customers view your products and how would a packaging change effect that?
  • How does your current packaging compare to the competition?
  • Are there potential cost savings in your packaging process?
  • What would new or different options do to your transit costs?

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll cover specific types of flexible packaging, and the benefits – and drawbacks – of each.

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.