Sleeves have been around for a long time, although it has to be said that Europe embraced this technology significantly earlier than the North American market. And whereas ITR (in-the –round) digitally imaged sleeves are only just gaining traction here in the U.S. ,again in Europe they have been widely accepted for twenty years or more.
Sleeves are lightweight and mostly come in parallel form, although tapered sleeves were the standard for many years. They come in a multitude of wall thicknesses that really help to accommodate variations in plate and tape thicknesses. Being able to mount plates directly on the sleeves and leave them mounted if preferred for repeat runs dramatically reduces repeat mounting and allows for easy storage.
When used for anilox sleeves it allows for anilox line counts to be changed rapidly and again minimizes storage costs and makes handling of them easier. For jobs that have continuous backgrounds, diagonal repeats or where you want to stagger the individual print lanes to reduce bounce sleeves again are the perfect solution. For presses with fixed, cantilevered mandrels, print sleeves and anilox can all be changed in minutes by an individual operator in many cases with no lifting equipment needed unless you are running very wide tissue or wide web sleeves.
They can also be rubber or polymer coated for laser engraving, ground for flood coats or digitally imaged in the case of polymer coated sleeves.