A Guide To Shrink Wrap Sleeving Machines

Not just for labelling purposes, a shrink sleeving machine also helps to protect products and keep out light, while providing the perfect customer-facing packaging.

A Guide To Sleeving Machines

How you package and label your items can go a long way towards the success of your product, along with creating a great customer experience. But when the time comes to add labels to your cans, bottles or containers, with so many different options available, from traditional paper labelling to printed containers, where do you begin?

What is a shrink wrap sleeving machine and what is it used for?

A shrink sleeve is simply a label applied to a container that wraps around the entire perimeter of a product, fitting seamlessly around it. A shrink sleeving machine allows you to apply sleeve labels onto a wide variety of containers in a range of shapes, sizes and designs. Allowing for a 360 degree design, with a sleeving machine the labelling possibilities are endless.

What are the different sleeve types?

  • Full-body sleeves: often seen on drinks and food products, full-body sleeves cover the entire product and provide excellent marketing and shelf appeal.
  • Collar sleeves and tamper evident sleeves: generally seen on supplements, cleaning products and beverages, collar sleeves and tamper resistant sleeves form a tight seal over the closure of a product for peace of mind.
  • Combination and multi-pack sleeves: common on cleaning products and beverages, multipack sleeves are used to group multiple products together in one singular package and barcode.
  • Standard sleeves: also called partial sleeves, these cover the majority of the product but don’t feature any tamper-evident seals. A great example is juice or bottled water.

So, how does a shrink wrap sleeving machine work?

While the specific running instructions may differ depending on the shrink wrap sleeving machine you choose, the general sleeving process is simple:

  1. First, you’ll need to load your shrink wrap film into the machine so it is ready to be wrapped around the product
  2. Your packaging is then fed into the machine, where the shrink sleeves are ‘dropped’ loosely on top of the area or product that needs wrapping
  3. The container then passes through a shrink tunnel where a heating or steam element is applied to shrink the sleeve or film to fit seamlessly around the product. While a better result is achieved using steam, it is a more expensive option and so heat is a more common choice in standard production

This process can also be completed either pre or post fill while the sleeves themselves can be made from a range of durable materials such as PVC, PET and OPS, depending on the product and machinery capabilities.

How much does a sleeving machine cost?

The price of a shrink wrap sleeving machine will depend on the number of features, along with the speed, its capabilities and integration with existing production or packaging lines. But, as a general rule of thumb, the better the machine, the more expensive it will be.

How to clean a sleeving machine

As with most other machines, it’s important to ensure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your shrink wrap sleeving machine, as every machine is different. Specific cleaning instructions and the solvents you use will vary depending on the machine’s components along with your industry and any regulations or guidelines you have to follow.

Remember that a solid preventative maintenance programme can help you to reach your targets while ensuring you have adequate spare parts and that machinery is regularly inspected to ensure optimum performance. It’s always a good idea to schedule in qualified technical engineers required for annual service and maintenance works to ensure your machines are running properly and efficiently, and to reduce any costly machine downtime or breakages.

What are the benefits of using a sleeving machine?

If you’re considering investing in a sleeving machine, but still aren’t fully convinced, there are a number of different benefits to your business:

  • Durability: the materials used in shrink sleeve labelling are much stronger and more durable than standard labelling, especially once the sleeve has been applied to your product.
  • Versatility: the sleeving process can be applied to a wide range of containers and products of different shapes and sizes, meaning the possibilities are endless.
  • A perfect fit: using a sleeve wrapping machine allows you to create a 360° label that fits seamlessly to your products, keeping them safe from dirt, moisture or damage.
  • Cost effective: replacing a tedious manual process with automatic machinery can hugely speed up your production line and make for much more efficient changeovers, allowing your workers to focus on more important tasks.



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