January 29, 2014

7 Min Read
Shrink labels blast onto shelves

For the full-body Moose logo on North American Beverage Co., Inc.'s newest milk-drink product—Mega Moose™ Strawberry Blast—the company needed a full-body, shrink-sleeve label. Says the company's marketing partner, Ben Stone at 4th Floor Design (www.beveragebusiness.com), "This is the first time the moose on the label is pictured as a fully realized figure, playing soccer, unlike the Chocolate Moose Premium chocolate milk line, where we use only the moose's head as part of the logo lockup. Mega Moose is positioned as a wholesome energy drink. It is real milk fortified with vitamins A and D. So we wanted to convey activity on the label."

Based in Ocean City, NJ, North American Beverage distributes its drink products nationally, including its Chocolate Moose line, which comprises flavors such as Premium Chocolate, Diet White Chocolate and Cookies & Cream. Mega Moose Strawberry Blast is distributed nationally where it is shelf-stable for up to 24 months. The milk drink appeals to consumers aged 12 to 24 and to mothers who are looking to serve their kids healthy drinks.

In introducing Mega Moose Strawberry Blast, the company wanted to differentiate the product from its other varieties, while communicating that the drink is part of the Chocolate Moose family of brands.

SleeveCo, Inc. (www.sleeveco.com) was the natural choice for printing and converting the new Mega Moose label, since the converter already produces a full-body shrink-sleeve label for North American Beverage's Chocolate Moose and Havana Cappuccino lines (see PD, Dec. '02, p. 44, the company says. Only this time, according to Martin Wilson, vp of sales and marketing at SleeveCo, the converter worked with North American Beverage to design a metallic-silver label. "It's the first time that we needed so much background coverage in metallic ink," he says, "and it had to look high-end."

A family-owned manufacturer of shrink- and stretch-sleeve labels, SleeveCo is based just outside of Atlanta in Dawsonville, GA. The company uses what it says is the industry's only 11-color, 800-ft/min Chesnut 150 gravure press from W.R. Chesnut Engineering (www.chesnuteng.com). The company also uses a proprietary ink-matching system that can reproduce virtually any color, accurate within 1/1,000 lb of ink. SleeveCo specializes in metallics, as well as in pearlescents, thermatics and matte varnishes.

With its single focus on sleeve labels, SleeveCo partners with shrink-film manufacturer Klöckner Pentaplast (www.kpfilms.com). "We have used vinyl and polyethylene terephthalate glycol films from Klöckner Pentaplast since the beginning of our history," says Wilson. "We just know that we can count on their Pentaprint® film for its precise tolerances. Pulling off full silver coverage [on the Mega Moose Strawberry Blast label] was possible because of the film's excellent gauge uniformity. Because, not only did we need to lay down a lot of metallic silver, we also had to get the print resolution spot-on to capture the moose in motion."

For the Strawberry Blast shrink-sleeve label, Klöckner Pentaplast provides 2-mil polyvinyl chloride film specifically engineered for excellent anchoring of the required ink systems.

The film's uniform shrinkage, along with its excellent ink adhesion helped North American Beverage achieve the goal of "a contemporary look for a new product," says Stone. "The ready-to-drink market is very competitive. We wanted to capture the look of the new aluminum bottles that are on the market using sleeve technology. No doubt, the shelf appeal of Mega Moose energy drink is catching on, as sales have been brisk since it launched last June."

As Stone explains, it was important to get the drink on the market at the beginning of summer because, although the season for energy drinks is year-round, sales spike with the temperature. "We were still putting the last details together in April of 2005, so that's a quick timeline," he adds.

Getting to market quickly was another reason SleeveCo proved vital to the project. The company has a prepress department that cuts its own gravure cylinders in-house at a competitive price. This allows packagers to get products to retail faster because there's no outsourcing.

Before SleeveCo made the cylinder for Mega Moose Strawberry Blast, the converter worked with the client's design team to get the artwork approved. Then they were ready to size and engrave the cylinder.

After cylinder engraving, the film is printed. The process begins when a roll of unprinted Pentaprint film is mounted to an automatic unwind unit. The film then moves over a dancer roll to a Fife (www.fife.com) edge guide, which provides a proper oscillating roll wind. From there, the film travels to an infeed draw group inside the printing press. The press is equipped with a butt splicer; in-line automation, die-cutting for pressure-sensitive labels and lamination; extended dryers; and reverse-print stations for backside printing.

At the first color station, the film passes over the print cylinder, which applies the first ink color onto an engraved cylinder. An ink dam forces ink into gravure cylinders and applies the image to the film. In the next step, a doctor blade removes any excess ink from the film. Standards set down by the National Electric Code ensure that the press's dryer system is classified as explosion-proof.

States Wilson, "We run into challenges with ink adhesion with 'high-end' metallics and pearlescents. And in the case of the Mega Moose Strawberry Blast label, the biggest challenge was laying down the silver-metallic ink. That's why we really appreciate the good ink adhesion we get with Klöckner Pentaplast films. We are aiming for the highest reflectivity possible, and we feel we get it."

An eltromat (www.eltro.com) DGC 650 register control monitors the film by sequential codes. Then BST Promark (www.bstpromark.com) high-resolution cameras inspect the film and check its print quality and density values.

After the film is edge-trimmed on a Rotoflex (www.rotoflex.com) VLI slitter, it undergoes automatic print-defect detection. A DCM (www.dcm.fr) Babycat sleeve machine and rewinder then uses an inspection device to check the finished shrink-sleeve seam for print registration and integrity with a black light.

Sums up Wilson, "With a 250-plus line screen and brilliant picture imagery, gravure printing achieves vibrant colors. The gravure method is also often used to assure the readability of small fonts. The [Mega Moose Strawberry Blast] shrink-sleeve label definitely stands out."

He concludes, "We are very pleased with the sleeve labels. In fact, everyone seems pleased, from the client and the retailer to the distributors. It was a huge area to design, 360 degrees around, from top to bottom. And the colors reproduced brilliantly with kudos to Klöckner Pentaplast films."

Jim Mullen, business unit manager for shrink films at Klöckner Pentaplast, says, "When a product is competing for consumers' attention, our films display the graphics to their best advantage by ensuring proper ink adhesion."

More information is available:

BST Pro Mark, 800/796-9621. www.bstpromark.com.

DCM, 33 141 375270. www.dcm.fr.

eltromat Electronics, Inc., 757/487-8849. www.eltro.com.

Fife, a Maxcess Intl. Co., 800/639-3433. www.fife.com.

4th Floor Design, 617/598-1922. www.beveragebusiness.com.

Klöckner Pentaplast, 540/832-1470. www.kpfilms.com.

Rotoflex Intl., Inc., 800/387-3825. www.rotoflex.com.

SleeveCo, Inc., 800/624-0204. www.sleeveco.com.

W.R. Chesnut Engineering, 800/746-7873. www.chesnuteng.com.

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