In-mold Decoration and Labeling Products Development
With consumer demand for higher requirements in digital products, home appliances and automotive products, the entire manufacturing industry is constantly innovating, especially in injection molding. In-mold decoration and In-mold labeling technology represent a new global trend for plastic surface treatment technology in high-end products over recent years. Immetech is greatly honored to provide a complete set of electric car interior lights-control solution development and plastic mold building to a renowned new-energy automotive manufacturer in the United States in the past year, which is a new competitor to Tesla. Many types of car lamps need to use IML technology; this is a new process for applying logo elements to part surfaces, whereby the logo or other customer-supplied files are printed onto film in advance, with the film then attached through high-pressure stretching and molding into the plastic part. The result is that the logo pattern displays perfectly on the part surface, and is resistant to scratches, abrasion, high temperatures and UV, thereby eliminating the post-production decoration process.
What is In-mold labeling technology?
In-Mold Labeling (or IML) involves the embedding of printed film (after molding punch) into the injection mold cavity, with the mold then closed for the start of filling and part production. IML is the integration of printing, molding, mold building and injection molding technology and is a collection of plastic sheet, ink and plastic resin in one part. Injection resin is combined with an ink layer on the back of film, the panel graphic and logo placed between film and injection molding resin, ensuring the graphic and logo will not wear due to friction or time issues. For most injection materials the resin can be PC, PMMA, ABS, and so on. Products are widely used in home appliances control panels, mobile phone lens shells, digital product lens shells, notebook computer shells, automotive interior decoration and other complex surface and pattern of plastic appearance. Immetech has a full set of IMD/IML mould development technology and supporting equipments: DMG MORI & FANUC high-speed CNC, Makino & Mitsubishi mirror EDM, slow thread cutting machine, precision servo screen printing machine, high grade injection molding machines, Hexagon 3D CMM machine, projection detector, high and low temperature test machine, etc.
IML processes include hot-press molding and high-pressure molding, which are detailed in the following flowcharts for easier understanding:
Process workflow for hot-press molding
Process workflow for high-pressure molding
IML process uses PET or compound film with more than 2h hardness. Buttons on auto dashboards, interior decoration, shells and some smart home appliances are created using IML technology, which is more durable than standard injection molding technology. Test results show that the products’ lifespan can be increased by over 1 million times by using IML technology, and the interior pattern has prolonged resistance to color change. Because the pattern layer is inside, there is a reduced chance of the interior pattern suffering damage unless there is damage to the hardened or plastic layers. With lower production costs, IML is suitable for mass customization and production. To summarize, the IML process has the advantages of wear-resistance, scratch-resistance and non-discoloration. IML technology is the best alternative to plastic product spray painting and electroplating, which can reduce the need for follow-up processing procedures after molding, and offers significant advantages in energy saving and environmental protection. IML will bring enormous economic benefits and environmental benefits to society and enterprises, not only improving products quality, but also expanding the space for continuous product innovation, which is a development project with great global potential.
If you have any projects related to IMD/IML for development, please feel free to contact us. You only need to provide 3D/2D part data and film pattern files that meet the requirements to us, and our team can handle the rest of the work. Based on our experience and accumulation of successful development in IML projects, and our team’s unswerving commitment to technological innovation and craftsmanship, we firmly believe that we can support customers to make their products more humanized, diversified, intelligent and standardized. We aim always for a win-win situation with customers, and to fulfill the great vision of Immetech: Serve products to the world, build molds to the globe.