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If you thought IML was still a "niche" application in the plastics packaging industry, think again.

Clare Goldsberry

April 11, 2012

2 Min Read
Labels key to IML success demonstrated at NPE

If you thought IML was still a "niche" application in the plastics packaging industry, think again. Printing Company Verstraete, a Belgium-based global supplier of labels for IML applications had the company's products running in IML molding applications in seven molding machinery booths: Negri Bossi (450g cup), Engel (1-liter ice cream tub with Bi-color lid), Illsemann (250g Eurotub running in a Netstal press), Toshiba (200g cheese container), Wittmann Battenfeld (metallic labeled butterbox), Arburg (pail with handle representing demand for larger packaging requirements), and Wetec/Jonwai (700 ml oval container and lid).

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Verstraete IML labels NPE2012

"We're the number one IML label producer for both injection and thermoforming processes," stated Dieter Maes, business development manager for Verstraete, "producing 34 million labels a day, and 25% exported outside Europe."

While it's well-known that IML has been much slower to catch on in North America, Maes noted that "North America is an extremely important market" for the company. North American packaging producers have claimed that a lack of local suppliers has been an obstacle to the growth of IML, Maes refuted that idea. "It's not necessarily true that you need label makers next door," he said.  "We can deliver labels anywhere in the world on time, and it's very feasible to do this from Belgium. We can be a good supplier globally. We have huge capacity and can respond quickly."

While Verstraete doesn't yet manufacture in North America, the company has an office in Boston.

The labels being used in the various molding machines at NPE were standard labels, Verstraete introduced a variety of new metallic labels for IML applications. Maes said that the company has two primary goals with respect to its label development: "First we're trying to reduce label costs, develop new visual properties such as our new metallics to widen the portfolio of IML applications," he explained.

Down-gauging the label thickness from the standard 70 mm to 60 mm helps to reduce the costs, and said Maes, "We're working on getting the gauge down to 50 mm."

Maes stated that Verstraete is seeing the range of IML applications become wider. "We're moving away from just primarily food packaging and into larger packaging products such as paint cans," he said. "Where paints were solvent-based metal cans were needed, but with the water-based paints plastic cans are suitable to used. With the new metallic label materials, we can keep the metallic look of a metal paint can."

"Secondly, we're giving added value with our labels such as providing oxygen or light barrier properties and extending the shelf life of products and keep flavor optimal," Maes said.

In addition to being a label producer Maes noted that Verstraete is much more. "We provide knowledge to people wanting to get into IML, educating them about material choices, curing options, and other things they need to know through our white papers."

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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