IML & Shrink Sleeves: Elevating Packaging Solutions for Modern Brands

IML Shrink Sleeves

As brands continue to compete for the top spot in consumer interest and purchase preferences, conventional packaging can be a setback. IML short for In-mold labeling and shrink sleeve techniques is a contemporary method of product packaging where the labels are fused into the product mold during production. This makes the labels inseparable from the product and keeps it intact. Modern brands require modern labeling solutions—IML is one of those new-day labeling and packaging methods to drive more buyers, stand out in the competitive market, and attract consumer attention. 

What is IML Packaging?

IML (In-mold labeling) makes the labeling more durable, aesthetically appealing, and highly functional. Since, this type of labeling makes the product packaging look and feel fresh and catchy, more and more modern brands are readily opting for IML for their labeling and packaging needs. Also, since pre-printed labels are integrated to the plastic containers during the molding process, the packaging is usually tamper-proof . All the brand and product information is fully intact and doesn’t wear off during use. 

Why Modern Brands Opt for IML Packaging?

Highly Durable

IML packaging is usually resistant to scratch, scrub, fading and moisture. They are very durable compared to its traditional counterparts and lasts longer, retaining brand and informational visibility even with extensive usage. 

Tamper Evident

Since with IML, the pre-printed specialty labels are fused with the plastic containers during the making process, there is no space for tampering of any kind. This keeps these labels and the information on them away from mishaps or tampers.

Comes in Vibrant Colors

With the latest technologies in hand, IML technique allows containers to be printed with aesthetically vibrant, catchy, and high-resolution labels that easily catch the consumer’s eye in a crowded marketplace. 

Flexible Packaging

Today, products come in all shapes and sizes. The more innovative the packaging is, the more attention it draws. With IML, brands can easily shape the labels along the contour of the product, which leaves room for flexible packaging. 

Catchy Branding

Alongside a premium look and feel, IML technique helps with beautiful branding elements and vibrant graphics with a blend of functionality like  instructional text, nutritional information, barcodes, and more.

The In-Mold Label (IML) Manufacturing Process

Introduced in the 1970s, in-mold labels consist of three parts—a transparent film, the printing layer, and the plastic layer that covers the back. The process involves integrating a pre-printed label into the plastic mold/ container. Now, the label is directly infused with the container, takes the shape of it, and remains inseparable from the container. In-mold labels are highly durable and involve a 3-step manufacturing process majorly with polypropylene or polystyrene.

Step 1: Pre-printed labels

Premium heat-resistant labels are printed using different advanced techniques like rotogravure or offset printing.These designed and printed labels are then formed into the desired 3D shape. 

Step 2: Label placement

The formed label is positioned in the injection mold cavity. The labels take the 3D shape of the container and the excess material of the label is removed. 

Step 3: Injection molding

Molten plastic fuses with the label, creating a permanent bond. Now that an inseparable bond is created between the label and container,  the finished IML product looks study, weather-proof, rigid. 

Step 4: Cooling time

Once the injection is complete, the IML product has to be let cool down. This lets the label have a stronger bond with the container mold to hold properly and last longer. 

Diverse Applications of IML Product Packaging

Due to its robust nature, IML (in-mold labeling) is widely used across industries for various types of product packaging. Also, since, IMLs can be easily customized to desired colors, shapes, and sizes—this type of packaging is adopted by various segments of consumer durables, electronics, and more. 

Food & Beverage Packaging

IML packaging helps keep the freshness and shelf life of food and beverages intact. Personalized packaging with complete information on the food can be made available with brandable components. 

Laundry Detergents

Especially with chemicals like floor cleaners, antiseptic, and more, the need to have durable labels is high. Detergent and water-resistant labeling is crucial and IML (in-mold labeling) is the best choice. 

Skincare Products

Tamper-evident labeling is the key to good skincare packaging and IML achieves it easily with its sturdy and versatile nature. 

Automotive Parts

IMLs are a great technique for the manufacture of internal automotive parts that should be resistant from withering, and wear and tear. 

Medical Devices

Medical devices and containers that are extensively used in hospitals and healthcare centers require labels that last longer even with chemical treatment or sterilization—IMLs are the most durable in this case.

Toy Manufacturing

IMLs in toys and child-friendly goods keep them intact, engaging, and makes playtime fun for kids. 

What is Shrink Sleeves Labeling?

While IML and shrink sleeves packaging might have a similar appeal, its printing technique and application process are completely different. In shrink sleeves, a polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) film is printed, shrunk to fit onto a container and then labeled through a thermal application process. Rose in popularity in the 80s, shrink sleeves provide 360° coverage and have a wide range of applications in various industries.

Pros of Shrink Labeling in Modern Product Packaging

  1. Surface & Shape Adaptive

No matter the shape or contour, shrink sleeves are shape agnostic and easily take the shape of the container that needs labeling. Besides being adaptable to all shapes, it is easy to apply on different materials like metal, glass, plastic, etc. 

  1.  360° Coverage

For packaging that needs free styling, shrink sleeves provide great coverage. This allows brands to make complete use of labeling to provide vital information, branding, and more. 

  1. Vibrant Visual Appeal

Shrink sleeves are a great choice even with unusual shapes and can be printed with an affluent color palette of designs and prints. Shrink sleeve packaging is known for versatility alongside its durability. 

  1. Highly Durable & Tamper-proof

Shrink sleeves are the most durable and tamper-proof labeling that brands prefer. They are resistant to scratches, scuffs, and damages while being protective from thermal and moisture. Also, since the printing is done on the inner side of the film, the brand copy and information is kept intact without withering.

  1. Cost Effective

Cost savings is another key reason modern brands prefer shrink sleeves labeling. In contrast to the early days of shrink sleeves where huge industrial setup was needed, modern label providers are offering easy, cost-effective techniques to print shrink sleeves with flexographic printing methodologies. 

The Shrink Sleeves Labeling Process

Step 1: Shrink Sleeve Design & Printing

Shrink sleeves are printed with high-quality graphics based on branding and informational needs. The label design and printing usually is done with flexographic or digital printing techniques and sleeves are prepared for positioning. 

Step 2: Sleeve Positioning 

Based on the container shape, the designed label is positioned using various methods like mandrel systems, carousel systems, and direct apply systems. 

Step 3: Shrinking & Cooling

Through heat-infuse techniques, the sleeve is shrunk to take the shape of the container. It then tightly conforms to the plastic layer and then allowed to cool down for firm fixing and packaging. 

Diverse Applications of Shrink Sleeves Labeling

Shrink sleeve labeling is a versatile packaging solution that has gained widespread use across various industries due to its ability to provide 360-degree, full-body coverage for containers. Here are some diverse applications of shrink sleeve labeling:

Food & Beverages

Shrink sleeves are easily adaptable with jars, cars, bottles, and containers of any shape and size, especially in the food and beverages industry for complete 360 coverage feasible for good branding.

Household Cleaners

Shrink sleeves are increasingly used for labeling cleaning supplies like detergents, disinfectants, and air fresheners, etc because of their durability and resistance to chemicals.

Matte-finish Packaging

Matte-finish packaging has gained popularity in various industries and shrink sleeves are highly ideal for labeling consumer durables that demand a neat and premium matte finish. 

Pharma Industry

Just like IML, the tamper-free nature of shrink sleeves makes it a prime choice for pharmaceutical labeling and packaging. Good quality labeling and packaging is a must for pharma containers as it contains crucial information like product information, dosage instructions, and safety warnings.

Personal Care Products

Shrink sleeves protect packaging against moisture, abrasion, and fading of personal care and makeup product packaging. Brand value and product information are the key factors of good personal care products and shrink sleeves keep them intact. 

IML Vs Shrink Sleeves Labeling: What Modern Brands Need to Know

Both IML (in-mold labeling) and shrink sleeves provide interesting and versatile labeling and packaging solutions to modern brands and businesses.

However, based on product shape, feasibility, cost, and printing capabilities, brands get to make their choice between IML and shrink sleeves for the product packaging.

While IML boasts durability, tamper-proofing, and vibrant branding opportunities, Shrink Sleeves Labeling offers versatility, cost-effectiveness, and adaptability to various container shapes and materials. If you are prioritizing durability and premium branding -IML (in-mold labeling) is a great choice.

On the other hand, if flexibility and cost-efficiency is the motive, shrink sleeves make a great labeling solution.It is good to access the production volumes, design preferences, and budget constraints beforehand and then proceed with the type of labeling technique your product demands.

It is a crucial step as the right kind of labeling can have a massive impact on the marketing, sales, customer usage, and revenue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *