IML vs. IMD:
Which In-Mold Technology is Right for Your Product?

In-mold labeling (IML) and in-mold decoration (IMD) are both processes used to integrate labels or decorative elements into plastic products during molding. However, they differ in their applications, processes, and benefits. Here’s a comparison of IML and IMD:

In-Mold Labeling (IML)


  • Primarily used for labeling products, especially containers, bottles, and packaging.
  • Common in the food, beverage, and consumer goods industries.


  • A pre-printed label is placed into the mold cavity before injection or blow molding.
  • During the molding process, the molten plastic fuses with the label, embedding it into the surface of the product.



  • Durability: Labels are resistant to scratching, moisture, and environmental factors.
  • High-Quality Graphics: Allows for vibrant, detailed, and high-resolution images.
  • Cost Efficiency: Eliminates the need for post-molding labeling, saving time and reducing labor costs in high-volume production.
  • Recyclability: Labels and containers can be made from the same material, simplifying recycling.
  • Seamless Integration: Labels are perfectly integrated into the product, providing a smooth surface without edges or seams.

In-Mold Decoration (IMD)


  • Used for decorative and functional elements, often in automotive, electronics, and home appliances.
  • Suitable for products requiring a high-quality surface finish and complex designs.


  • A decorative film or graphic is placed into the mold cavity.
  • The film is often pre-formed to match the shape of the final product.
  • During molding, the film adheres to the plastic, transferring the decoration onto the product’s surface.


Key Differences

In-Mold Labeling (IML)

In-Mold Decoration (IMD)

Purpose Focused on labeling and branding Focused on decorative and functional enhancements
Materials Used Typically uses pre-printed paper or plastic labels Uses decorative films, often with special finishes and textures
Applications Commonly used in packaging and containers Commonly used in durable goods, automotive, electronics, and home appliances
End Result Produces a product with an embedded label that is durable and integral to the product Produces a product with a decorative surface that may also include functional elements

Both IML and IMD offer unique advantages depending on the specific needs of the product and industry. Choosing between the two depends on the desired outcome, the complexity of the design, and the product’s intended use.

In-mold labeling is advantageous for its durability, high-quality graphics, cost efficiency in large runs, sustainability, suitability for complex shapes, regulatory compliance, brand differentiation, and production efficiency.

In-mold decoration makes sense for products requiring a high-quality aesthetic finish, durability, integration of functional features, and customization. It is particularly beneficial in industries such as automotive, consumer electronics, and home appliances, where these attributes are essential.

In-Mold Labeling for Medical Applications

A reliable, premium quality medical product in a single production step. 


This complete cell will run at the ARBURG Tech Center in Elgin, IL at the Open House on Wednesday, June 19th.  For more information and to register, click here.