In-mold Decoration and Labeling
In-mold decoration (IMD) or In-mold labeling (IML) is a process of decorating plastic parts during the injection molding process. A printed label, usually on a plastic film, is inserted into the mold and then molten resin is injected behind it, causing the decoration to transfer and adhere to the surface of the part. This allows the plastic to fuse with the decoration, producing a durable and visually appealing product in a single step.
We help customers optimize the performance, manufacturability of their IMD and IML projects while employing advanced quality control measures to ensure on-spec plastic parts at a competitive cost.
  • Proven mold design solution
  • ISO 9001: 2015, IATF 16949 certified
  • Tolerance within ±0.0004 in (0.01mm)
  • 24/7 engineering support
  • 20+ years molding experience
How does In-mold decoration and in-mold labeling Work?
1. Preparing
Plastic resin is added to a hopper, heat to melt, wait for start to inject, also prepare labels and servo system.
2. Place Printed label
Manual or servo robot loading printed label accurately into the cavity, close mold.
3. Injection Filling
Molten plastic is injected into the mold until the entire cavity is filled, and the label and plastic will be firmly bonded together.
4. Cooling & Stripping
Wait for the parts to cool and solidify, open the mold, pick products manually or a robotic arm to complete a production cycle.
Advantages of In-mold decoration (IMD) and In-mold labeling (IML)
IMD and IML offer design flexibility and productivity advantages over traditional post-mold printing, with the ability to use a variety of colors, effects and textures in a single operation for long-lasting graphics.
Design flexibility
IMD and IML can provide a variety of colors, textures and complex graphic options, including stainless steel, wood grain, five-color grain, carbon fiber, etc.
Cost effective
Since injection molding and decoration are completed in one step, this eliminates the cost of secondary labeling, decoration or printing operations.
The printed label is fully fused to the plastic during molding and can't be removed without damaging the product, destroying the label, which increases durability.
Labels can be changed in small batches, with different graphics, and styles without changing the production process and increasing costs.
In-mold Decoration and In-mold Labeling Materials
At Attractive Plastics, in addition to providing a variety of conventional In-mold Decoration and In-mold Labeling materials, we also offer a variety of additive plastics to meet special requirements.
  • Regular Plastic Materials
  • Additives & Fibers Plastics
  • Mold Materials
Regular Plastic Materials
We offer a variety of In-mold Decoration and In-mold Labeling plastics to meet your unique application.
Common In-mold decoration plastics include: PP, ABS, PC, PMMA, Nylon, PE, PBT, POM, SAN, PS.
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Additives & Fibers Plastics
To meet the needs of your unique in-mold decoration and in-mold labeling application, plastic mechanical properties can be improved through additives, carbon fiber, glass fiber, etc.
Examples of common additives include:
  • UV absorbers
  • Flame retardants
  • Plasticizers
  • Carbon fibers
  • Antistatic additives
  • Glass fibers
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Mold Materials
The choice of mold material for in-mold decoration (IMD) or in-mold label (IML) molding depends on the application’s material properties, volume, and part complexity.
The common mold material recommendations:
Mold Steel: P20, 718, 718H, 2738H, H13, S7, NAK80, S136
Stainless Steel: 420, NAK80, S136, 316L, 316, 301, 303, 304
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In-mold Decoration and In-mold Labeling Design Tips/Considerations
Design tips/considerations
Gate type
A right gate type should be selected, and the gate should be far away from the printed label so that the label will not be washed away or damaged.
Gate Location
The gate should be placed in the center of the product as much as possible, so that the plastic will be distributed in a fan shape when filling, which is conducive to molding. Gate location also affects how the plastic flows through the film and bonds with it. Correct gate position ensures stable molding.
Gate number
Avoid using two gates, which can cause the printed film to wrinkle when the two strands of plastic meet.
Label hold method
Whether you use vacuum, electrostatic or other methods to hold printed labels, plan ahead. Blow molding labels generally use vacuum adsorption, and injection molding labels generally use electrostatic adsorption.
Cooling system
The mold should have a good cooling system to avoid label deformation due to overheating.
Hot runner
Use hot runner molds as much as possible to save materials and increase production efficiency, and the gate can be placed in the center of the product to facilitate production.
Label Thickness
Printed labels should avoid being too thick or too thin. Too thick will not be adsorbed on the mold wall, and too thin will be easily washed away.
Printed label
1) Printed labels should have a certain degree of toughness to ensure that the labels aren't damaged during the molding.
2) The label surface should be smooth, with no adhesion between labels and no static electricity to prevent the robot from adsorbing multiple labels at one time.
3) The ink used for printing labels should have certain temperature resistance to ensure that the ink doesn't fall off, wrinkle, bubble, or deform under high pressure and high temperature environments.
4) Label flatness must be managed during production, which will directly affect product quality and production efficiency.
EOAT Tools
End of arm tools design considerations:
1) It must be ensured that the robotic arm captures one tag (one cavity) at a time
2) It must be ensured that the robotic arm can accurately place the picked labels into the cavity.
3) Whenever possible, use the same end-of-arm tool to pick up finished parts
The injection pressure and speed should not be too high and too fast, otherwise the label will be washed away.
Applications of In-mold Decoration and Labeling
In-mold decorated and in-mold labeling plastic products have many advantages such as wear resistance, high quality, and low cost. They have become the preferred process for high-quality, durable labels and graphics and are widely used in many industries, including:
  • Automotive – Handle trim, center console, Instrument panels
  • Electrical – Computer components, mobile shell, Home Appliances
  • Medical – Medical equipment
  • Industrial – Storage containers, Lawn and garden equipment
  • Consumer – Food packaging cups, trays, containers
Gallery of In-mold Decoration Plastic Products
Dive into Attractive Plastics' extensive gallery that showcases some of our completed in-mold decoration and in-mold labeling molding plasic products and take confidence that we can create your in-mold decoraton and labeling molding project according to your strict specifications.
China Custom In-mold Decoration & Labeling Manufacturer
As a leading manufacturer of in-mold decoration and labeling, our company is recognized for our commitment to excellence. With precision equipment and advanced techniques, we deliver intricate designs that are exactingly reproduced with every production run. We maintain stringent quality controls to ensure that every detail is meticulously crafted, resulting in a finished product that exceeds expectations.
Our expertise in in-mold decoration and labeling extends beyond traditional applications. We have the ability to create unique designs that are tailored to your specific needs, whether for consumer packaging or industrial components. By utilizing the latest technologies and materials, we can achieve superior durability and longevity, ensuring that your products remain as vibrant and eye-catching as the day they were made.
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Reviews from Our Customers
A customer’s words have a more substantial persuasion than a company’s claims. We have served hundreds of satisfied customers and here are some reviews they give us.
Through complex printing, decorating the printed film on plastic products adds value to our products. Attractive Plastics has helped us produce more than 1 million products through in-mold decoration. Very competitive prices and fast turnaround , is the driving force for our continued cooperation.
David Moon
Vice President
Their in-mold labeling expertise ensured our new remote control housing met stringent legal requirements with the printed regulatory text fully legible. Extensive print and placement testing validated a reliable automated process. New products are being developed and I believe they can do better
Carl Harris
Pruchasing Manager
Automated quality inspection of in-mold decoration helps achieve consistent brand image in large-scale seasonal production. They do just that, and we recognize their attention to detail and continued investment in design, molding, and production. We will strengthen cooperation in the future
Tony Jones
The quality of the plastic parts they produce has been very stable, and there have been no major problems for several years, which gives us a lot of confidence in our expanding business. This is not unrelated to their strict quality management and excellent engineering knowledge.
Ben Holder
Their engineers can provide us with expert knowledge of material properties and defects. They help us innovate and evaluate options to further differentiate our designs. Their efforts paved the way for us to produce plastic parts. Engineering-driven injection molding plants like theirs are of great help to our product development
Anne Zaremba
Our In-mold Decoration Service for Various Industries
Our custom In-mold Decoration and in-mold labeling injection molding process is suitable for solve the various demands of industries, including the automotive, medical, electronic & electrical and consumer goods fields.
Electronic & Electrical
Consumer Goods
Optical Clear Products
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In-mold Decoraion and In-mold labeling FAQs

What’s in-mold decoration and in-mold labeling?

In-mold decoration (IMD) and in-mold labeling (IML) are processes that integrate decorative elements or labels onto plastic parts during the injection molding process.

In IMD, decorative materials like fabric, paper, metal foils, or plastic films are inserted into the mold cavity and then become permanently fused to the surface of the plastic part during molding. This allows for decoration and molding in a single step.

In IML, printed plastic label stock is positioned in the mold cavity so that the label gets embedded within or onto the surface of the part. This eliminates the need for separate post-molding labeling. IML enables high quality graphics and customization directly in the molding process.

Both IMD and IML allow for efficient, single-step decoration and branding of plastic parts. When combined with in-mold assembly, multiple colored resins etc., they enable innovative aesthetics, textures, and visual effects to be incorporated into the molded component.

What is the difference between IMD and IML?

IMD offers greater design flexibility whereas IML provides cost-effective print decoration and branding on plastic parts. The main differences between in-mold decoration (IMD) and in-mold labeling (IML) are:

  • Materials used – IMD uses a wider range of decorative materials like fabric, leather, metal foils, laminates etc. whereas IML predominantly uses printed plastic label stocks.
  • Positioning – IMD materials can be selectively positioned only on a portion of the part surface, while IML typically covers the entire surface.
  • Visual effects – IMD offers more possibilities for textures, 3D visuals, metallics etc. compared to standard print graphics on IML.
  • Process integration – IMD may sometimes require additional steps like pre-forming or pre-shaping prior to insert molding, whereas IML inserts can directly go into the mold.
  • Durability – IMD materials are usually very durable as they get fused with the base plastic. IML durability depends on the label stock chosen.
  • Cost – IMD tends to be more expensive due to higher material costs as well as secondary processing. IML has lower costs as it uses mass-produced print label stocks.
  • Applications – IMD is widely used for consumer products and cosmetics packaging. IML is common for industrial components like control panels, dials, nameplates etc.

What are the challenges of in-mold decoration and in-mold labeling injection molding?

Proper mold design, label material selection, registration control and process optimization is needed to produce high quality, aesthetically appealing IML/IMD plastic parts.

IMD is a complex and specialized process. There are challenges at every stage of development, from concept to successful production. Here are some key challenges with in-mold decoration (IMD) and in-mold labeling (IML):

  • Registration – Precise registration and alignment of the label/decoration with the mold cavity is critical but difficult to achieve consistently.
  • Positioning – Keeping the label/decoration accurately positioned during mold closure and injection filling.
  • Wrinkling – Labels and decorative films can wrinkle during the process due to high temperature and pressure.
  • Entrapment of air – Air trapped between the label/decoration and mold can cause visual defects.
  • Excess flash – Flash around the edges of the label is difficult to avoid and trim.
  • Label flexibility – The label needs to be flexible enough to conform to the mold contours without tearing or creasing.
  • Thermal stability – Labels/decorative films must withstand molten polymer temperatures without deforming or discoloring.
  • Bond strength – Sufficient adhesion between the label/decoration and molded resin is required so that they don’t separate.
  • Surface finish – Any label/decor imperfection will be visible on the finished molded part surface.
  • Resin compatibility – The resin, label material, ink and decoration must be compatible to avoid degredation.
  • Cost – IML and IMD molds require higher maintenance and precision, adding cost.
  • Secondary operations – Additional trimming, assembly or finishing steps may be needed after demolding.

What is the process of in-mold decoration and in-mold labeling?

In-mold decoration (IMD) and in-mold labeling (IML) refer to processes where decorative films, labels, or other embellishments are inserted into the mold and then incorporated onto or into the surface of plastic parts during injection molding.

The typical process steps are:

  • The decorative film or label is precisely cut to match the mold cavity surface. For IML, this is usually a printed plastic film. For IMD it can be a plastic film, fabric, metal foil, paper, or other material.
  • The decoration is picked up by a robotic arm and precisely orientated and inserted into the open mold. It has to be accurately positioned against the mold surface.
  • The mold closes and the plastic melt is injected at high pressure and temperature, bonding the label/decoration to become an integral part of the molded part surface.
  • The mold opens after cooling and the decorated part is ejected. Any flash around the edges is trimmed.
  • The finished and decorated part is then checked and undergoes any secondary finishing steps if required.

The keys to success are the label/decoration material properties, correct positioning inside the mold, process conditions that avoid wrinkling/folding, and strong adhesion between the substrate and resin.

When done right, IML/IMD combines decoration and molding in one step to produce high quality, attractively embellished plastic parts very efficiently.

What are the key considerations in-mold decoration design?

A complete in-mold decoration involves many processes, and every link from part design to mass production may affect the final result. Need to study carefully. Paying attention to these factors results in strong, uniform bonding between decoration and resin for an attractive, durable finished product.

Here are some of the key factors for successful in-mold decoration:

  • Decoration material selection – The decorative material must have suitable mechanical properties, thermal stability, and chemical compatibility with the plastic resin being molded.
  • Registration accuracy – Precise alignment and positioning of the decoration against the mold surface is crucial to achieve a good quality result. Automated systems are generally used.
  • Mold design – The mold must be designed to hold the decoration in place during filling without allowing wrinkles or trapped air. Vacuum ports help.
  • Process conditions – Temperature, injection speed, pressure, and cooling rate must be controlled to avoid decoration damage while providing good adhesion.
  • Molten resin behavior – A resin with low viscosity when molten is preferred as it can infiltrate the decoration better and avoid air entrapment.
  • Bonding – Chemical, mechanical, or electrostatic bonding between the resin and decoration should be strong enough to prevent delamination. Surface treatment may be required.
  • Decoration flexibility – Some degree of stretchability allows the decoration to conform to mold contours without cracking or creasing.
  • Automation – Automated material handling and process control enables consistent results at high production rates.
  • Simulation – Computer simulation of filling patterns and thermal gradients helps identify any issues prior to production.
In-mold Decoraion Resources
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