Case Studies

In-Mold Case Studies - Decorating & Labeling applications

Over the next several months, the IMDA will be expanding this section with detailed success stories of applications that have wowed the customer, impressed the brand owner and succeeded with no production challenges for the label printer or molder (isn’t that the dream???). If you have a story to tell, reach out to the IMDA and let us help.

Click on an image below to learn more about the application.

In-Mold Labeling Encourages Reuse and Protects Branding in Pail Application

At first glance, the white pail with its simple red and yellow text labeling seemed to be an unlikely choice for an awards competition entry, which typically feature complex and colorful designs. However, the unassuming entry caught the eye of the 2021 IMDA Awards Competition judges with its clever use of in-mold labeling (IML) to resolve concerns with product branding and container reuse.

Label durability in a demanding application

Frylite has offered cooking oils to restaurants, bakeries and pubs for more than 30 years and now supplies more than 60% of the food industry in Ireland, according to its website. The company has developed an innovative supply-and-reuse concept, delivering the vegetable oil products to its customers and then collecting used oil for recycling into a biodiesel energy source.

With its unique business model and its dominance in the cooking oil supply chain, the branding on the Frylite oil containers represented a highly visible way to enhance and maintain its market position. However, the manual handling and transport took a toll on the self-adhesive labels that were used on each pail.

“The labels just didn’t survive,” explained Aoife Doherty, quality manager at Frylite. “We have a lot of manual handling, and our labels were constantly damaged. They often peeled off. Or they didn’t retain their shape. The colors faded. They tore. You name it. They simply weren’t practical for us.”

Even when the buckets came back from Frylite’s customers with the labels intact, the cleaning process caused concerns. “We put our buckets through a wash process which is like an industrial dishwasher,” said Doherty. “The labels rarely survived. Replacing them after each use was tiresome and time-consuming.”

In addition to label durability, the pails that contain Frylite oils are a key component in the company’s sustainability proposition. Clients return used oil to Frylite in the buckets, allowing Frylite to clean, refill and send out the same bucket up to five times. However, the company began to notice the buckets disappearing, an issue put down to the ease with which the labels peeled off.

“We were determined to find a new solution,” said Doherty.

Reverse IML protects the brand and increases recycling rates

Frylite reached out to Corcoran Products, a supplier of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) products to a variety of industries – including food service, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and industrial – and the provider of Frylite’s containers. The company is actively involved in the development of innovative products that meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of their customers and, with a few ideas in mind, Corcoran contacted its partner, injection molding expert Dijkstra Plastics, to investigate options such as printing directly onto the buckets.

“We needed a solution that would stand up to the rigorous washing process the buckets undergo; it’s a caustic chemical wash administered with high-pressure blasting,” said Derek Lennon, commercial manager at Corcoran. “Concepts like offset printing simply couldn’t survive it. We tried everything. We had almost given up hope.”

“It was at about this point we spoke to MCC Verstraete about the issue,” said Joram Knol, graphic specialist in IML at Dijkstra Plastics, “which is when Reverse IML started to show some real promise.”

“With Reverse IML labeling, the printing is placed between the IML packaging and a thin polypropylene film,” explained Stijn Quintyn, regional sales manager for Northern Europe at MCC Verstraete. With this process, the print is secure, protected from tearing and the rigors of transport and handling, and able to stand up to high-pressure cleaning, heat and chemicals without a problem.

“The Reverse IML labels were exactly what the doctor ordered,” said Doherty. “They allow us to wash and reuse the buckets time and again, without any signs of the three-color image fading…  It makes for great shelf presence.”

In addition, now that the label couldn’t be removed easily, the buckets no longer disappeared before Frylite could arrive to collect and recycle the used oil.

In a global economy where sustainability and recyclability receive increasing attention, the cleverness of the solution and multifunctionality of the container design caught the eye of those assessing the 2021 IMDA Awards Competition entries. As a result, the Frylite pail received the 2021 Judges’ Choice Award.

 To see all 2021 IMDA Awards Competition honorees, visit https://imdassociation.com/imda-awards/2021-imda-awards/.

In-Mold Decorating vs. Pressure-Sensitive Labels in display panel

Case Study: IMD Decorating vs. Pressure Sensitive label

Customer: Reddotnet, Inc., Vista CA

Industry Served: Retail, various consumer products

Situation:

Reddotnet, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic purchasing kiosks used in high-traffic retail environments, needed to improve the overall durability and cosmetic look of their display panel bezel used by a national retail chain.

Problem:

An original design decision to use glossy, pressure sensitive paper labels on the front of the part proved to be problematic. In use these labels peeled, frayed and wore out fairly quickly.

Consequently, this manufacturer was spending time, money and effort replacing bezels to keep their product looking fresh and clean or risk losing a major account. In addition, assembly of pressure sensitive labels during the manufacturing process is time consuming and placement of labels is not always accurate. As a result, scrap rates can be significant due to human error factors. Furthermore, the cost of continuous bezel replacement, whether done in the field or internally, was preventing the manufacturer from realizing an appropriate profit. Unfortunately they were forced to maintain this course of business in order to satisfy the customer and in order to break into additional industries they did not currently serve.

Solution:

Replace pressure sensitive labels with In Mold Decoration. IMD labels are made of durable, graphically decorated, molded in place “films” that are more robust when compared to pressure sensitive labels, especially in a high traffic retail environment. IMD labels will not peel, fray, wear off, discolor or scratch under normal conditions such as those encountered within the target environment.

Although the existing mold was not designed for insertion of labels via the IMD process, it could, in this particular case, be easily modified to accept the labels. First we needed to modify the mold by adding a relief area into the mold where the label would be placed. This helped keep the IMD label in place during injection of the plastic. Next we had to modify the gates and runner system so that the label would not be damaged by the hot resin entering into the cavity and core area.

Evaluation:

Damaged panels are virtually eliminated by using IMD labels. There is greater customer satisfaction due to the more attractive and professional appearance of the IMD panels. In the process we did not lose the ability to easily change the colors and look of the label area. This was needed to meet the customer’s changing demands to upgrade and refresh their product as required with minimum cost and/or production impact.