L&NW: How does Mark Andy's technology help converters produce shrink sleeves, and which presses are the best fit for the shrink sleeve market?
Amanda Flower (AF): Our flexo and digital hybrid technology is built upon the principality of configurability. And because of that, we have the right “recipe” when it comes to narrow web and mid-web shrink sleeve production. Mark Andy has the only True Hybrid digital 17-inch format size press that is proven to run shrink without limitations with the Digital Series HD.
New to the industry in 2021, Digital Series iQ is a mid-market solution that is also shrink production capable. And of course the Performance Series platform, and specifically the P9 as a flexible platform with the most automation in the industry – is an ideal fit for shrink sleeves. The P Series platform comes in widths of 13, 17, 22 and 26 inches to handle all of the format sizes needed.
Shrink production on inkjet has been known in the past to have barriers, but those have dissipated as technology continues to evolve to keep up with those increased trends in application diversification. Run lengths are shrinking and converters are looking for cost effective solutions for more than just prime labels, and that’s where digital hybrid comes into play.
L&NW: What kind of demand are you seeing in the market for shrink sleeves, and which end-use markets are seeing it the most?
AF: In speaking with our customers, reading the data from industry reports and honestly just seeing what’s out there on the shelves in stores, it’s clear that shrink is a booming application. And, with some minor adjustments, most converters with flexo or inline digital already have the capital equipment to produce it. Beverage first and foremost, and also food and household cleaners are the big shrink markets for the moment.
L&NW: What notable trends are you seeing in shrink sleeves?
AF: An interesting trend for shrink sleeves is its increased use in physical packaging. While not a new use, with the massive increase in e-commerce during the pandemic, the durability of shrink sleeves has been put to the test. Shrink sleeve packaging is an exceptionally good option for end-users when it comes to the wear and tear that can occur during shipping due largely in part to the material itself and the reverse printing process on press.
Additionally, brands are coming to the realization that sleeve labels offer the most amount of real estate to grab a potential buyer’s attention. This also works in favor for more regulated industries like food or pharma, allowing them the space to have sizable brand representation while also remaining compliant with displaying the necessary, required text.
L&NW: How does your team help navigate converters through challenges of getting started in shrink sleeving?
AF: Just like anything else, there’s always going to be a learning curve when it comes to implementing new technology. But Mark Andy presses in general are not only future proof (for example, chiller rolls can be added at a later date if a converter wins new shrink business), but the Performance Series and Evolution Series line are very user intuitive and operator-friendly.
These flexo presses are of course the platforms used in the Digital Series HD and Digital Series iQ, respectively, as the hybrid components. We also recently launched my.markandy, which is a free online resource tool for all Mark Andy customers. It’s essentially a hub of knowledge for any and all Mark Andy solutions, from legacy presses like the 830 and 2200 to our newest equipment as well. Customers can register at my.markandy.com.
L&NW: Where do you anticipate future growth in the shrink sleeve space?
AF: Growth in this application, and flexible packaging as a whole, is limitless. More and more converters are going wider and opting for presses with more automation, which is ideal for shrink. And with digital becoming more enticing and proven for shrink production, converters are starting to see a profitable market for shorter run shrink production, and that’s a niche that has been relatively untapped.
With flexo and digital hybrid, converters will find value add features when shrink production is evaluated as an option to expand product offerings. High impact embellishments can be added with cold foil and cast & cure techniques to name a few, while multiple processes can be added and carried out in a single pass for faster production and less waste.