A new strategic alliance between SussexIM, a full-service supplier of premier injection molded consumer products, and InkWorks Printers LLC, an innovator in advanced imaging technology including digital imaging and conventional printing techniques, is bringing in-mold labeling (IML) and digital watermarking to a new level.

Soft Square CollageBoth of these technologies can now be performed using engineered resins such as ABS, giving brand owners in cosmetics and personal care products, among others, new options in decorating and product security that is both visually exciting and cost-effective, according to the companies. It also enables brand engagement with today’s smart phone savvy consumers.

“Our exclusive collaboration with InkWorks LLC opens new vistas for our customers in terms of using IML and watermark technology with engineered resins such as ABS,” said Keith Everson, president and CEO of SussexIM. “Until now, IML was a technology married to polypropylene because of cost and technology-related challenges.”

“Now, however, we offer a fast-turnaround solution that is a compelling alternative to other decoration techniques,” he added.

According to Bob Travis, president and CEO of Inkworks Printing, “Watermarking and digital IML provides exciting product connectivity to the brand, and that spells incremental sales. Such brand-to-consumer communication is increasingly important given today’s smart phone-oriented in-store shopping experience.” 

Travis, who attended last week’s In-Mold Decorating Association’s Annual Symposium, told PlasticsToday that the strategic alliance with SussexIM helps the company provide customers with benefits unavailable to brand owners prior to the development of using engineered resins. “We can get ABS to the price point of polypropylene,” said Travis. “With this cost effectiveness cosmetic companies such as Maybelline and others can access the benefits of IML. One of the most critical benefits is to prevent counterfeiting of these cosmetics. With luxury packaging on the rise and brand owners more interested in protecting their brand, the new Watermark-IML technology can provide product authentication.”

According to Everson and Travis, consumers using their smart phone applications software can link to the brand’s product and receive use directions and recommendations, as well as access additional incentives and links to online shopping with just a “click.” Additionally, the Brand can offer links to other APP’s for Augmented Reality, such as digital makeup applications such as Modiface or L’Oreal’s MakeUpGenius.

Most importantly, the end-user and the brand owner can validate that the product is “authentic” as the Watermark-IML is part of the product, not the retail packaging. The Watermark-IML technology can also be used by the brand owner’s supply chain to track distribution within targeted channels, noted Travis.

SussexIM specializes in providing premier luxury cosmetic cases for power brands, including L’Oreal, Revlon, Mary Kay, Neutrogena and Elizabeth Arden. “These customers benefit from SussexIM’s ability to accelerate time-to-market, thanks to the company’s accelerated decision-making capabilities and shortened supply chains,” said Ed Fabiszak, vice president of sales & marketing for SussexIM. “Our in-depth cosmetics business experience delivers highly competitive cost, 99.5 percent OTIF with Six Sigma quality and smooth, successful launches.”

SussexIM purchased Albea Group’s North American cosmetic compact business in September 2013, and has expanded its capabilities in decorating. “In the cosmetics world, the decoration is critical,” Fabiszak said. “With this new Watermark IML technology we’ve got a huge opportunity in an extremely price driven industry.”

Fabiszak noted that SussexIM has done a lot of work on RFID tagging for industrial devices. “We were going down the road to use this technology in cosmetic cases, but found it cost-prohibitive,” he said. “The IML Watermark came about after SussexIM began working with Travis at InkWorks to develop the digital Watermarking. We’ve experimenting with this method for over a year to get the layers of label material and the substrate to perform with the ABS resin.”

As a packaging producer Fabiszak explained that the decorating, especially for high-end cosmetic products, tend to be painted and lacquer sprayed to provide that expensive look. “The challenge of doing this in the U.S. is tough because of the environmental constraints,” he said. “Additionally it’s difficult for smaller suppliers to make the investment required for those operations, or often smaller lot sizes are required even with mass market item compared to a P&G product, for example.”

Protecting their products is serious business for brand owners in today’s global market place, Fabiszak commented. “With the Watermark-IML it becomes a part of the actual cosmetic compact or case – the primary package – as opposed to the just have a printed code on the chipboard carton. Companies spend huge amounts on development of new products, and when it begins doing really well in the marketplace, the counterfeiters come into the game. So this technology is critical to their success and profitability.”

Last month, SussexIM showcased the IML Watermark at MakeUp New York to capture the attention of brand owners. “We’re excited about the response,” Fabiszak said. “We’re fundamentally a custom products company, but we took some of the stock products that we tested the IML Watermark development on and showed them, and talked to brand owners. It’s definitely resonating within the community as a way to protect their products.”