In-Mould Labelling (IML)

In-mould labelling (IML) is a manufacturing process where labels are integrated into a product as part of the moulding process rather than being added on as a post-production activity. As the name suggests, the labels are part of the moulding procedure:

  1.  A label is placed into the IML mould
  2.  Melted thermoplastic polymer is added
  3.  The two combine to take the shape of the mould

This method can be applied to blow molding, injection molding and thermoforming processes, and is widely considered to have several advantages:

  1. The process can help to reduce contamination or counterfeiting, thus helping to maintain a brand’s quality and integrity.
  2. IML helps to reduce moisture and product abrasion thus increasing shelf-life.
  3. Not having to remove sticky labels prior to recycling of IML plastic containers and products.
  4. Commonly acknowledged to reduce production costs although IML may also increase production time.

Originally pioneered by Owens-Illinois in conjunction with Proctor and Gamble the labelling process was first used on the production of Head and Shoulders shampoo bottles but is now used commonly throughout the plastics and packaging industries on plastic bottles, containers and consumer electronics.

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