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“The label and the mold become one!”

Expert Interview Series: Today with Koen Verstraete, Head of our IML experts Verstraete IML with two plants in Belgium and currently building one in the USA. They will also be present at the K2016 trade fair in Dusseldorf, Germany next week – the biggest event for the plastics industry worldwide.


Constantia Flexibles: Koen, could you please explain IML technology in a few simple sentences?

Koen Verstraete: Of course, first of all, the term "in-mold labelling" is directly derived from the technique where a preprinted polypropylene label (PP) is placed in a mold. This mold has the shape of the end product, for example the shape of an ice cream tub. Then the molten PP is added to the mold where it fuses with the label, and then takes the shape of the mold while curing.

The bottom line is that the label and the mold become one.

Constantia Flexibles: What are the advantages of in-mold labeling compared to say, normal labeling of the packaging?

Koen Verstraete: There are several advantages of the IML technology. First of all I would like to underline the maximum print quality because the offset printing technique ensures high-resolution images. Besides that, you have the possibility to decorate all the sides of a container with one single label.

The second big advantage is that in-mold labels resist humidity and big changes in temperature: they are the best solution to decorate plastic containers for frozen and refrigerated products like ice cream for example! On top of that, in mold labels are also scratch resistant, don’t crack and wrinkle.

In mold labels also help save the environment - the packaging and the label consist of the same material and can therefore be fully recycled, which is an important topic in today’s world.

Also shorter production time and lower production costs play a big role when it comes to advantages - during the in mold labeling process containers are produced and decorated in one single step. Storage of blank containers becomes unnecessary, storage and transport costs belong to the past.

Last but not least the IML technology enables a wide range of look and feel options and    quick design changeovers can be made - it only takes a shift from one label design to another on your IML automation to make a quick changeover. There is almost no production loss during the start-up of a new design.

Constantia Flexibles: You have been operating two very successful plants in Belgium – why are you expanding to the USA now as you just announced a few days ago?

Koen Verstraete: As you said, we are building a new production facility in Clarksville, Tennessee. It will be built directly next to another paper and pressure sensitive labels plant that also belongs to the Constantia Flexibles Group and is serving the American beverage and food market. This has many benefits – Constantia Flexibles has the management, legal and technical experience we need to operate successfully and rapidly in the North American region.

The decision to expand our production capacity with an international site is a huge step for our company. Going to North America will not only strengthen our position as global leader, but also gives us direct access to North America – the IML market with the best growth potential.

Constantia Flexibles: Let’s talk about the K 2016 show in Düsseldorf, Germany that kicks off on the October 19th and is a very important trade fair for you…

Koen Verstraete: Yes, we have been working on our booth at the trade fair for months and are looking forward to meeting many people there! As one of world’s leading IML label suppliers, we will be located in Hall5 B37 and are very proud to be the preferred partner for 16 IML systems at K 2016.

As a special service to our visitors, we have compiled a handy IML guide for everyone to help quickly locate all the IML related companies at the fair. If you haven’t ordered one so far you can still request our K2016 IML guide*, it will help you save time, because you will find everything you need to know in one single guide. It also lists all the technical information about the 16 IML systems and on top of that you receive your voucher for the first edition of the Verstraete 'Fuse' magazine that will be unveiled at the K2016!

Constantia Flexibles: Thank you for the insights, Koen – see you at the K2016!

*In order to request the free IML guide, please go to