Shrink Sleeves

Shrink Sleeves – From Application Overview

Usually, when a product is delivered to the customer or user, the manufacturer’s accountability is over. However, this is not in the case in the packaging industry. Until the packaging is applied to the product or on the container, It is not considered fully closed. Especially in Shrink Sleeves, this process is even more technical. In fact, the most crucial part is when shrink sleeves are applied over and formed into the final product container.

Being a Global Shrink Sleeve advisor, and Director of Taurus Packaging, I have experienced a lot of these application issues. I have mentioned this in my both books – “Sleeve it Right” & “5 Myths about Sustainable Shrink Sleeve.” Surprisingly one thing is common – The Application and handholding hiccups of Shrink Sleeves.

Let’s begin with the step in which the shrink sleeves are printed and delivered to you by us -the converter. Now the ball is in your court. The application process plays a critical role. The best-fit application technologies are determined by factors such as container type, shrink sleeve material processing condition, and selecting the right combination based on the need. The application process is divided into three categories:

1. Rotational / Carousel Applicator
2. Auto Applicator / Bullet Style/ Mandrel
3. Manual Application / Direct Apply
Let’s take them one by one.

Rotational Applicator

This applicator system is easy to handle and provides better placement of the shrink sleeve on the container, even with non-cylindrical shapes. It allows sleeves to be “squared” for rotational accuracy in a variety of container shapes. This applicator works well in full-body shrink-sleeving. Shrink sleeves are used in roll form.

Auto / Mandrel Applicator

As the name suggests, it is an Automatic applicator that uses a mandrel or metallic tube-like structure on which the sleeves are opened and applied to the containers below it. It is primarily used in beverage containers on high-speed lines.

Manual / Direct Apply 

It employs shrink sleeves in the cut form. Sleeves are passed through a tool kit that opens and applies over the container moving on the conveyer belt.

The shrink tunnel is another important aspect of applicator technology. Here too, we have three different tunnel types:

1. Hot Air (Convection)
2. Radiant Heat (Infra-Red)
3. Steam (Conduction)

Hot Air (Convection) Shrink Tunnel

Cost Shrink sleeving that is both effective and simple. Hot air is applied by directional heat to the container’s specific area where maximum shrinkage is required. best for areas like necks, grooves, or recesses. Because hot air is directly blown on the surface of the container, the temperature of the tunnel tends to be on the higher side. And this excessive heat leads to distortion in the shrink sleeve on the surface, especially on the leading edge of the sleeve. These distortions are frequently observed in cold-filled plastic or glass containers. Conveyor belts that spin for containers can help reduce such distortions.

Infrared Shrink Tunnel

The source of the heat is Infrared and since it is restricted to the chamber, this tunnel works like an oven. It is initially designed for preheating the container to ensure proper shrinkage and reduce the heat-sink effect on glass. But usually, it resulted in higher shrinkage at one end of the sleeve than the other. Shrinking PETG sleeves is highly challenging on thin-layer plastic containers.

Steam (Conduction) Shrink Tunnel

The best and most versatile shrink tunnel available for shrink sleeves. The source of the heat shrink is steam. Steam distributes the heat to the entire surface of the container, giving it the best shrinkage. Transfer of heat is very effective with steam; Steam is 20 times more efficient than air, so it is easier to control the heat and manage the temperature. Despite having the advantage of a nearly perfect shrink, Steam Tunnel has a comparatively complex machine for generating the steam (boiler, pipes, drainage, etc.), which determines the volume of steam you require for shrink-sleeving the container. It also requires maintenance from time to time for perfect functioning.

Shrink sleeving is similar to custom tailoring for your product container.
All you need to know are your important points, and the solution will be easy. Before making this investment, consult with a shrink-sleeve guide.

Taurus Packaging is at your service for any doubt regarding shrink sleeving. We are available at or 96674 00924.