In-mould labeling

The use of packaging as a marketing and brand awareness tool is a major demand for the beverage market. In-mould labels enable long-lasting bright colored communication, which can withstand harsh industrial and retail environment...

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In-mould labeling is used in the packaging industry as a high-quality alternative for printing moulded parts with special requirements, such as a highly glossy and photorealistic decoration. The labels are usually printed polypropylene or polyethylene foils only a few tenths of a millimeter thick. The advantage of IML is that it integrates a downstream process with the injection moulding process. Using handling technology, the labels are inserted into the mold and in parallel the parts are removed. The labels are held in the mold with a static charge or vacuum.

Compared to more traditional options for printing on plastic returnable transit packaging, IML enables multi colors and large printed areas on all sides at once, when hot foil printing is only one color and limited in surface. The design is also much more creative and can include mat / brilliant surfaces, reliefs... really bringing a full marketing role to the RTP. On top, IML is avoiding tampering and last as long as the crate does.

First developed in one way packaging in the 90’s, labels available on the marketplace could not withstand industrial environments and were fading with sunlight or washing tunnels abrasion. As Schoeller Allibert was already a top player in the beverage carte market, we took the opportunity offered by Beck’s brewery inquiry to develop a completely unique and new integrated IML process.

Components, design printing cutting, robot handling placing in molds and automation were set up in 2001.Frequent washing, UV exposure, scratch, weather/climate influence, as well as high temperature (above 200°C) mechanical stress during injection modeling of the boxes, were amongst the challenges of this IML technology. Now Schoeller Allibert has more than 10 years’ experience and improvements of IML technology and automation and we can offer either lacquered coversheet for very frequent high-pressure water washing tunnels and a laminated cover sheet when a superior scratch resistance is required.

IML is widely used for beverage crates because those are shelf ready retail packaging in most countries. According to recent surveys, purchase decision is mainly made on shop floor, so very attractive colored brand labels are required as a major marketing tool. IML can also be applied to all other industries for large volumes of boxes.

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