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Labelling Solutions All eyes on IML packaging


However, because injection moulded labels are applied in the mould it is much simpler for converters and manufacturers to achieve a consistent high quality finish. Compared to other decorative techniques, IML is also very flexible. For instance, you can easily adjust the format of the label to the packaging. It


is even feasible to change the artwork during the production process. A range of colours, images and


consumer market, it’s the tactile and visual finishes that make a container standout on-shelf and in the consumer’s hand. When it comes to creating head-turning packaging in the food, personal care and consumer sectors, In Mould Labelling’s (IML) use of injection moulding becomes an advantage over adhesive printed labels in terms of its quality, production costs and sustainability. Kevin Heap, packaging expert at Sumitomo (SHI) Demag UK, explains why this is the case. Brands are increasingly turning to unique,


I


geometric and asymmetrical packaging forms and shapes to create visual intrigue. Some emerging developments, especially in the cosmetics and personal care markets, include wavy rectangular or bulb-like containers, such as those used for liquid soap. In the food sector, products with dual


compartments such as yoghurt pots or snack dips are also more commonplace today. It can be more challenging to stick printed self adhesive labels onto these less traditional packaging styles.


n today’s overcrowded


graphic designs can be applied to lids and containers using IML. The result is photo-like images that create highly decorative and visual shelf displays. Brand owners can also opt for matt or gloss finishes. In the personal care market, for higher-value


brands, moulded labels can be made more resilient. The labels don’t peel off and are water resistant, for items such as shampoo bottles this helps to enhance the consumer experience. Additionally, as the label is printed directly onto the packaging material, householders can recycle the packaging as a single container, making the packaging more environmentally friendly. Most IML processes are also automated, saving businesses a significant sum on resources in the long term. For markets like confectionery, the adoption


of IML is especially beneficial. For companies eager to eliminate the secondary decoration process, move to lightweight containers and reduce scrap rates, IML can cater for varied tub sizes, gift packs and special editions. While label substrates have become thinner -


most filmic IML labels are around 40 microns - they have also advanced in decoration from a small portion or strip of a pack being covered to the entire container. For fresher foods, such as


baked items, this is a big development as labels can incorporate multilayer barriers and even provide full coverage, minimising oxygen penetrating the pack, extending shelf life and reducing product waste. When it comes to the application of labels,


techniques vary. In injection moulding the most common approach is to index pre-cut labels into the mould using a dedicated robotic arm, and immobilise them using vacuum or static electricity. The polymer is then rear-injected into the mould, while heat and pressure are carefully adjusted to deliver the required degree of melt in the film. Industry commentators predict that of all


primary-packaging label technologies injection moulded IML will continue to grow the most rapidly between now and 2020. In part, this can be attributed to widespread adoption of thin- walled packaging. Based on global IML volume, the injection moulding format (IML-IM) dominates at 68 per cent in comparison to 31 per cent for IML extrusion blow moulding and a mere one per cent for thermoforming. “Despite being around for over two decades,


IML is certainly gaining more traction,” says independent packaging expert, Neil Farmer. “Packaging today has reached a cross roads, where sustainability, innovation and cost efficiencies are all important. Now, more than ever, consumers seek clarity and information such as ingredients and nutritional value, function and safety to be communicated clearly. It’s all about the seven second ‘blink of an eye moment’ when a purchasing decision is made. By improving the packaging and labelling on products, manufacturers can retain trust and confidence in their brands. IML is one of the techniques to help accomplish this,” concludes Farmer. uwww.sumitomo-shi-demag.com


18


September 2017


www.convertermag.co.uk


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