Welcome to the
Velox Support Center

Please login to continue

Do you want to be notified about Velox News?

Get all updates directly to your mailbox

Sign up

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, analyze site traffic, and assist in our marketing efforts. For more information on the cookies we use and how to delete or block them please read our Terms and Conditions.

Accept and Close

Direct Digital Printing Technology Disrupts Traditional Labels and Shrink Sleeves in the Craft Beverage Market

May 6, 2024

Shrink sleeves and labels for beverage cans have long been dominant sectors in the craft market space due to their functional, aesthetic, and flexible ordering volumes catering to the needs and preferences of both consumers and manufacturers. They have been serving the small-mid size craft beverage companies in the marketplace and have become integral components of modern packaging strategies for many businesses. More recently, direct-to-can digital decoration has penetrated this market segment offering a more efficient, cost sensitive and sustainable solution for can decoration ranging from small to mid-volume runs.


The use of shrink sleeve and labels in the beverage market

The use of shrink sleeves and labels is a popular option adopted by the craft beer sector, functional drinks and RTD brands as they enable cans to be branded with creative designs and have multiple product options. Unlike can manufacturers that require a minimum order quantity of hundreds of thousands, shrink sleeves and labels offer flexible volume orders. Labelling cans not only allows for more freedom in order volumes, but also provides almost the only decoration method for these brands. However, their popularity is waning and shrink sleeves and labels are facing their own challenges:

  • Higher costs: Shrink sleeves and labels can significantly increase packaging costs due to material and application expenses, impacting the bottom line.
  • Environmental impact: Shrink sleeves are often made from materials like PVC, which can have environmental implications, while some traditional label adhesives and substrates may not align with environmentally friendly practices. Companies and consumers are increasingly concerned about the use of single-use plastic in packaging. Similarly, in many cases shrink sleeves and labels are not removed post use, and as a result cannot meet the recycling process and are not recycled.
  • Production delays: Applying shrink sleeves or labels requires a long lead time for printing and shipping. In addition, the extra layer of plastic on the can often slows down filling lines due to friction, affecting supply chain efficiency.
  • Design limitations: Due to their application method, shrink sleeves and labels do not cover the entire can area. They have limitations such as overlap or seamlines, a plastic feel, and complete obstruction of the metallic substrate of the can. These limitations may deter creative branding possibilities for your product, such as metallic effects, seamless 360-degree decoration, and printing on the can neck area and chime.


A steady surge in digital printing

In addition to the challenges of shrink sleeves and labels, sustainability is becoming more than just a buzz word and a core principle for many brand managers, customers, and businesses. This is driving the adoption of direct-to-shape digital printing, an alternative printing option for beverage cans as it eliminates the material waste to create labels and sleeves and the nuisance of removing them before recycling.

An increasing demand for unique, dynamic and eye-catching packaging by various beverage segments like seltzer, kombucha, RTD, craft beer and functional drinks, as well as the demand for increased efficiency and shorter supply times are also contributing to the growth in high-volume direct-to-shape digital printing.

Having the ability to print high-quality graphics and product information directly onto the can and in much lower quantities of tens of thousands, is what the market has been waiting for. It is now possible for small to mid-size brands to enjoy the advantages that direct-to-shape printing allows: affordable cost, no quantity limitations, higher quality, and additional decoration features. With these benefits in mind, Velox identified the need in the beverage can decoration market and has developed an innovative approach to direct-to-shape digital printing.

Velox’s high-volume direct-to-can digital decoration offers unprecedented printing quality and capabilities including photorealistic images, extremely wide color gamut, accurate color matching and digital embellishments as matte, gloss and tactile embossing. With end-to-end decoration that goes all the way to the neck and chime area and seamless 360° printing with no slit or overlap, companies can enhance their brand performance and stand out on the shelf.

The extremely high speed of up to 500 cpm, and near-zero setup time of the Velox’s solution allow for an increased production capacity, easily switching between jobs and shorter time to market. Together with higher production volumes, eliminating the need for shrink sleeves and labels material, shipping, and storage as well as application processes and the associated production waste, Velox offers a low total cost of ownership. High decoration speed and short setup enables the move to print on demand, reduces inventory and storage as well as contributes to a much greener environment. By printing only what needed when it is needed, overproduction and stocking inventory are greatly reduced. Replacing the use of shrink sleeves and labels with direct printing to cans saves tons of plastic annually and allows for recycling, which plays a significant role in sustainability.


Shifting to a new print technology

Although shrink sleeves and labels have long been the go-to option when it comes to can decoration in the craft beverage market, there is a significant shift to alternative printing options that offer additional advantages. Industrial direct-to-can digital printing is the alternative that is disrupting this market segment. Small-to-medium size brands are relying on direct-to-can digital printing as they can fill smaller quantity orders, have super attractive options for can decoration, use eco-friendlier decoration method and offer greater flexibility in production and supply schedules. It is an exciting time of change in this hugely popular market. We look forward to seeing the growth of direct-to-can digital printing in the craft beverage market as more and more players will adopt the technology.

Need help or would like to know more about Velox?

Contact Us