Choosing a Shrink Sleeve Film for your Packaging Line

When choosing a shrink film for your packaging line, it is important to consider several factors, including product type, how the film will be shrunk, shrink sleeve label type, and which film will work best for your application. This blog will explore the various shrink-sleeve films and which solution will work best for your packaging line.

What are Shrink Sleeve Labels?

Before we dive into the different film types, we want to cover what shrink sleeve labels are. Shrink sleeve labels are an ideal solution for product identification and product promotion. With their bright colors and sleek look, shrink-sleeve labels help catch the eye of the consumer by standing out on the shelves and creating brand awareness for the product. There are several types of shrink sleeve labels: full-body, full-body with tamper-evident cap, middle sleeve, and multi-pack.

Shrink sleeve labels can be applied by hand or with automated equipment such as AFM’s LX-100, LX-150, or LX-350. Depending on the size and application speeds desired, AFM manufactures sleeve applicators for a wide range of production speeds and environments. Many companies use shrink-sleeve equipment to keep production rates high and their operation running as efficiently as possible. Once the container is covered with a sleeve, a heat source is used to shrink the label to the container. There are many heat tunnels to choose from depending on the desired finish, style and shape of the product, as well as the product itself.

The Different Film Types

There are four main types of shrink-sleeve films:

  • PET-G – Polyethylene terephthalate (glycol)
  • PVC – Polyvinylchloride
  • OPS – Oriented Polystyrene
  • PLA – Polylactic acid

Over the past few years, PET-G film has grown in popularity. One of the reasons for it’s rising popularity is it’s high level of clarity and overall strength. This strength makes PET-G film ideal for unique-shaped containers, especially large ones. PET-G is also preferred because, compared to other films, it is more environmentally friendly and compatible with today’s recycling regulations.

PVC film has been one of the most popular types of film for many years. This film comes in 2 different forms, rigid and flexible. Although other emerging film types have taken PVC’s place at the top, it remains popular for being an inexpensive film option. In addition, this film is great for shrink-sleeve labels and tamper-evident bands, but it is slowly losing its popularity due to environmental concerns.

OPS film is a great film for softer or squeezable containers. This film does require a high temperature to shrink, but OPS film is ideal for containers that don’t require the film to wrap underneath since this film has a low chance of pulling up. An OPS film option is also popular due to it being environmentally friendly.

That being said, if we are talking about being environmentally friendly, PLA film is the clear winner. While not widely popular (yet) and more expensive than other options, this biodegradable film is a great option.

How to Know Which Film is the Winner for You

Just as with any new piece of equipment, it is important to do your research. While these films are great, they may not be compatible with every shrink sleeve labeler or shrink sleeve tunnel. AFM’s shrink sleeve tunnels are compatible with each of these film types, making our shrink sleeve tunnels highly versatile. On the other hand, AFM’s CH-100 tamper evident band applicator is only compatible with PVC/PETG film 50 to 70 microns in thickness.

AFM’s knowledgeable team is here to help you make the best decision for your packaging line. For more information on shrink sleeve labelers and tunnels, visit the equipment section of our website and view AFM’s full line of sleeving solutions.

LX-100 Sleeve Application Over Rectangular Bottles