Don’t Gamble with the Success of Your Next Shrink Sleeve Project

by Kimberly Young

We’ve mentioned a time or two that shrink sleeve labels have endless benefits — haven’t we?    The perks of design versatility, the ability to label uniquely shaped containers, economic benefits, and customization…to name a few.   All good things come with their own challenges, and shrink sleeve packaging is no different.  There is added complexity in creating a successful shrink sleeve package as distortion and shrink factors are considered.  The question is, what can be done to ensure a successful launch with a new shrink sleeve product?

Shrink sleeve packaging can be a bit of a gamble if you don’t take one very important first step. Unfortunately, if you don’t, it can result in minor to very troublesome issues either graphically or mechanically.  So…what if we told you there is one step that you can take to avoid these sorts of surprises?

It’s as simple as adding a few additional days to your launch timeline to complete a grid trial.  A grid trial will ensure your new product launches without a hiccup in sight.

Play Your Cards Right

We understand the idea of adding a week to your timeline may not sound optimal.  However, our Graphics Services Specialist, Jennifer Swain, knows best, “most people cringe at the thought of having to do a grid trial because it adds time to an already tight timeline.  We guarantee a lot of unforeseen questions can be answered from a grid trial and those answers directly affect how art is set up,” and ultimately the success of your product on the shelf.

The risk of not performing a grid trial may mean that you won’t get the outcome you are expecting the first time around, which could mean more time and money.   It will be more cost effective to trial with a grid test first to smooth out the issues and answer any questions that we may have.

Ace in the Hole

What goes into a grid trial?  Inland can easily (and quickly) create a grid pattern to print on either our flexo or digital press based upon your container.   The HP 20000 digital press provides a quick turnaround and will provide the same feedback as any of our flexo presses.  There may be situations where it makes sense to run the trials on the flexo presses; if we are testing backside adhesives, white inks or varnishes that do need to be run through a Flexo press.   The process is simple, we print a small run, seam, and ship to you to apply to your containers.  We know the importance of having support when trialing new materials or containers, which is why you can have one of our experienced Field Services Representatives by your side during the trial to help work through the kinks.

Roll the Dice…

Alright, we’ve sold you on the importance of running grid trials, now you want to know “what can we expect to learn from a grid test?”

  • Areas on the container where the most distortion will occur
    This information is imperative for designers to understand where to place (or where NOT to place) critical graphics
  • Areas where inks (colors) will condense together
    Typically, during a grid test, we run a black grid over one or two hits of white and the varnish that will be used on the new project. There is an option to add additional colors to the test to gain an understanding of where inks condense together after shrinking to the container which could cause the colors to look different visually.
  • Placement of quiet zones or seal areas
    This also gives you an idea of where NOT to place critical graphics. Based on the results of the trial, Inland will recommend areas to keep critical art elements out of such as barcodes or text.
  • How well will the sleeve adhere to the container
    We can learn whether or not a backside adhesive would help to keep the shrink sleeve in place after shrinking and applying to the containers.  We can also learn if the size we are using could stand to be loosened up so that inks do not scratch off during the application process.

All of the above discoveries from a grid test will be critical to the success of your product.  It will ensure artwork is being designed appropriately and your brand will stand out on the shelves.  If you play your cards right, after a successful grid test, we will be able to go into a production run with confidence, and ultimately eliminate the unexpected issues that might have popped up.

There’s no question about it, in today’s market shrink sleeves are able to bring about any design vision, so let’s double down, and take the time and do it right the first time.