Creative Ways to Make Your IML Product Stand Out

December 15, 2021 • Posted in In Mold Labeling

Creativity, versatility, durability — in-mold labeling (IML) offers design freedom to give your plastic parts an outstanding aesthetic edge. Graphic elements are sharp and crisp, labels can be flat or curved, and techniques can be combined to lend eye-catching and even 3-D effects. How can you use IML to make your product stand out from the competition?

IML printing colors

Logos, Text and Colors

With IML printing, the design options are endless. Colors, logos, backgrounds, fonts and icons can combine in infinite ways to create plastic molded pieces that are truly unique and cutting-edge. From laundry machine panels to microwave keypads, IML can weave in the colors and graphics that make your brand stand out from the rest. Looking for low-gloss matte gray or glossy piano black? IML can do that.

In addition, IML printing embeds your design into the piece itself, meaning that labels won’t crack, peel or scratch like labels that used adhesives.

Concerned about your colors or graphics fading over time? IML graphics are water, oil and tamper resistant, and our product testing even includes exposure to UV and common cleaning chemicals. If you’re printing written instructions on a part (we can print in English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Braille and more), this resistance to fading can mean the difference between a part that expires after a few years or less, and a product that stands the test of time.

IML emblems


Do you like wood grain, but want to avoid the weight and permeability of real wood? How about chrome sheen, without the cost? A technique called Fine Expression Silk Printing (FESP) allows for minute detail that can mimic granite, marble, leather, wood grain, carbon fiber and more. This technique can also be combined with a second film to layer logos with backgrounds, or wrap a pattern around edges and corners.

As a bonus, wrapping IML film around edges can prevent backlight from leaking through unwanted areas, and protect against environmental factors.

Hidden Graphics

“Dead fronting” allows certain icons or features to be hidden from view, and then only become visible when backlit from a light source. If you want selected words or icons to be hidden under certain circumstances (like when a car’s headlights are on, for example), a dead front panel or display can be used to achieve your goals. In addition to aesthetics, dead fronting can be used to meet safety standards, specifically in the automotive or aerospace fields.

When most people think about dead front displays, they think about black or gray panels. However, this technique can be used with variations of white, silver, or even rose pink.

dead front display

Combining Capabilities

If one film or technique is not enough, IML technology can make use of double film layers to give the design a dynamic and high-grade look. This can also be used to add durability and protection to a part. For instance, one film can be decorative, while another film is layered over top and wrapped around edges to protect the layers or electronics behind it.

It’s also possible to layer films to create a specific finish on a part. With two-shot molding, for example, an IML film that’s anti-reflective, anti-fingerprint, and anti-gloss can be seamlessly added to achieve a specific look that also meets safety criteria.

Get Creative with Our Sanwa Team

In-mold labeling allows for versatility, originality, and a wow-factor for your customers. Whatever you can dream up, bring it to our Sanwa team. We have the experience and technology to realize your vision, and make recommendations based on your budget and goals. And we are regularly developing new, patented techniques to elevate our clients’ plastic-molded parts.

If you’re looking for the intersection of quality and creativity, contact us.