By Olivia Cahoon
Shrink sleeves provide marketers with a 360-degree canvas for sales graphics and content. By investing in digital print technology for shrink sleeves and labels, print providers offer customizable graphics with short-run capabilities for seasonal and promotional packaging. One such company is LabelValue.com.
Established in 2005, LabelValue.com manufactures flexographic and digitally printed custom labels, thermal labels, and a variety of stock labels. The company started with three employees as a retailer of Dymo printer direct thermal labels in a 500 square foot garage located in Tampa, FL.
“We didn’t manufacture any of the labels we sold, we were merely the online storefront for customers to purchase them through,” recalls Josh Dickson, marketing & prepress manager, LabelValue.com. The company also sold travel and skincare products through its other websites, some of which is still maintained.
Today, LabelValue.com operates from two locations with a combined work area of 20,000 square feet and 30 employees. The company manufactures custom and stock thermal labels ranging from shipping and handling labels to cannabis industry regulation labels and retail dot stickers. Its labels are available throughout the U.S. and some parts of Canada with other international clients.
Above: LabelValue.com of Tampa FL printed 3,000 shrink sleeves for Brew Bus Brewing’s limited time seasonal beer.
Shrinking to Size
In March 2016, LabelValue.com began using digital print technology due to client demands for high-quality, affordable, short-run jobs. “Many of our customers didn’t have the volume for it to make sense for them to purchase print plates and run flexographic jobs,” explains Dickson.
The company also services startups in a variety of industries that value the ability to change artwork as ingredients, sizes, or branding changes.
The label provider utilizes the HP Indigo WS6800 label and packaging press. According to Dickinson, it prints up to 130 feet per minute with a maximum width of 13.39 inches. According to Dickson, the company purchased the press for many reasons including speed and substrate compatibility.
Shortly after purchasing the HP Indigo WS6800, LabelValue.com started offering shrink sleeves. “We focused on expanding our offering to the craft beer industry, as we saw a big opportunity with breweries looking for shrink sleeves for cans,” explains Dickson. “We have always printed digitally, as the niche we serve is shorter run and looking for the quality and versatility that digital printing provides.”
LabelValue.com utilize the HP Indigo WS6800 to print shrink sleeves due to its premium white ink, which can be used as backing for the print. It also allows for a variety of web widths and shrink sleeve substrates, which according to Dickson, print beautifully on the shrink material. “It allows us to do neat things with the software available, like variable print and security features,” he adds. With the press, the company also uses HP ElectroInk for shrink sleeve production.
Currently, 15 to 20 percent of LabelValue.com’s work is digitally printed shrink sleeves. Digital print technology allows brands flexibility in their artwork and designs, and enables the ability to order shorter runs for seasonal or promotional packaging. “Overall, digitally printed shrink sleeves allow brands to use packaging as a method of acquiring and retaining customers. They provide stunning quality and great flexibility for clients,” offers Dickson.
The company’s main challenge depends on speed and volume requirements. “Digitally printed shrink sleeves save time in that there is minimal setup required when compared to offset printing, but on longer runs, the constraint becomes the speed of the press,” admits Dickson.
Currently, Avery Dennison’s Fasson brand is LabelValue.com’s shrink sleeve material provider. Fasson is available in a range of paper, film, and foil solutions for HP Indigo presses. It’s offered as rapid-roll, durables, prime film, specialty, prime paper, and wine paper. The company chose Avery Dennison because it has an established relationship dating back to several different label substrates. “The material is a good value and works well with the HP Indigo press,” offers Dickson.
The print provider’s software consists of Adobe Illustrator with Esko plugins for print templates to prepress shrink sleeve artwork. Once completed, the print provider uses HP’s Label and Packaging (L&P) software to queue jobs and send them to the press.
LabelValue.com pairs the HP Indigo WS6800 with the A B Graphic Digicon Series 3 finishing unit. Modules include die plate loading and unloading, gap sensing and knife setting, 50-ton capacity hot foil and embossing, flatbed screen printing, lamination in register, and a rail mounting system. According to Dickson, it runs at good speed offline with the HP Indigo and has a print station available for back printing if needed. It can also cold foil and spot varnish.
Brew Bus Brewing
In April 2018, Brew Bus Brewing of Tampa, FL approached LabelValue.com to create shrink sleeves for limited edition seasonal beer cans. The client originated as a tour bus for local breweries in the area. It soon expanded into a craft brewery and tasting room.
Brew Bus Brewing’s goal was to create an attention-grabbing, vibrant shrink sleeve for its seasonal beer. The client also requested that the color be as vivid as possible on the cans.
In the craft beer industry, there is a shift from labeled bottles to either pre-printed cans or cans with shrink sleeves. Additionally, more brands utilize variable printing technology to create personalized one-to-one packaging experiences and to geo-target customers, comments Dickson. “There also seems to be a big push to utilize specialty finishing on shrink sleeves like cold foils, matte finishes, or spot varnishes,” he adds.
LabelValue.com printed the shrink sleeves on the HP Indigo WS6800 using Fasson 10.5-inch, 50-micron co-polyester PET-G high shrink material. The film is designed for clarity and reduced contours with a shrink rate up to 79 percent. According to Dickson, this material works well on cans because of its high shrink rate, which leaves a smooth, finished product.
The graphics were designed and prepared with Adobe Illustrator and the HP L&P Print Server. Shrink sleeves were slit and slip varnished with the A. B. Graphics Digicon Series 3 and seamed with the Karlville K1. According to Dickson, the finishing process was fairly standard for shrink sleeve printing.
From job submittal to printing, it took LabelValue.com one day to complete 3,000 shrink sleeve pieces. During the project, the print provider had to make a last-minute adjustment to the artwork to include the package content size because it was left off of the customer’s original artwork. “Adjusting artwork colors to get maximum vibrancy also took a few edits,” says Dickson.
Brew Bus Brewing was impressed with the final shrink sleeve output and intends to reproduce the product on a recurring basis if it launches successfully. “Visually, this job is very striking and shows just how vibrant and brilliant digitally printed shrink sleeves can be,” shares Dickson.
Digital print technology and associated finishing equipment allows print providers like LabelValue.com to produce custom shrink sleeves for a variety of products including baked goods, candles, cosmetics, and beverages.
With an active market in craft brewing, the company continues to offer high-quality shrink sleeves and labels with the HP Indigo WS6800. dps
Jul2018, DPS Magazine