Mass customization is a useful value-added process for plastic injection molding companies, since it allows for individually unique products to be batched and produced at a larger scale. The flexibility of mass customization has to do with the digital printing of the in-mold labels (IML) and the ability to create “different styles” of products because they will have different visual and physical attributes. This can include different physical properties such as Softouch, gloss, and matte finishes, which are provided by the different substrates or laminates the graphics are printed on.
Mass customization is an ideal technology for brands to utilize for many applications, including:
- Track/trace data collection with individually unique QR codes or digital watermarks
- Achieving Just-in-time distribution by scanning and distributing from the individually unique codes
- Revolving promotional programs involving multiple graphic design variations
Revolving promotional programs, or revolving inventory, are a big selling point of mass customization, since new labeling decoration can be used to better entice customers to buy the latest style of a product. By offering designs that change with the seasons or are part of a collector series, mass customization production can encourage customers to become repeat purchasers for years down the line with the same product. The latest digital print capabilities combined with ERPmesh order management allow for endless design possibilities, as well as not requiring pass through charges for plate or die changes.
Importance of In-Mold Labeling
IML is the process which molds a label or logo directly in the plastic of the component during production, meaning the label lasts the lifetime of the product and won’t peel off like a sticker or patch since it is fused to the actual molded product. The lamination process (referred to as Protected Print Technology) that the in-mold labels go through after printing prevents fading or scratching of the design. IML is one of the processes utilized for mass customization since limitless label designs can be made through digital printing, and the result can be a personalized, custom product that can still be mass produced in an affordable way.
Other advantages of utilizing the IML process for component production also include:
- Better label durability
- Reduced waste
- Noticeable improvement in the product’s quality
- Moisture resistance
- Better wear resistance compared to screen or pad printing
The ability to insert a label within the mold rather than on the finished product with an adhesive is definitely an improvement to the labeling process for plastic injection molded parts. Although IML technology is utilized across many Sussex-manufactured components (i.e., Wall mounted soap and hand sanitizing dispensers, foodservice containers, mouth guards, table markers, and cosmetic compacts), one great example of IML used for mass customization is Sussex IM’s very own line of ONETUMBLER Drinkware.
Utilizing IML Technology to Mass Produce ONETUMBLER Drinkware
ONETUMBLER is a custom travel mug manufactured at the Sussex IM facility and that utilizes IML decoration. The ONETUMBLER product line features four tumblers ranging from 12oz to 20oz. and offers unlimited label combinations to fully transform their products into something truly unique. The minimum order quantity (MOQ) of ONETUMBLER Drinkware is 2500 units, but each quantity of 500 products can be customized by design, with each tumbler being completely different by visible or invisible code. ONETUMBLER is a good example of how a custom product can be individually manufactured with IML graphics.
The ability to produce graphics with full-color HD photographic elements that cover the whole product vs single color logo applications are what make the ONETUMBLER Drinkware travel mugs a custom, high-quality product. These are excellent examples of the benefits of utilizing mass customization for a better end product and for providing consumers with more choices.
Automation for a Better End Product
Automation is necessary for mass customization. Both mechanical and system automation are used for Sussex IM’s IML process since it increases the efficiency when there is a high volume of labels or various changes made during the production process.
Some other benefits of utilizing automation for mass customization include:
• Cost efficiency: having automation cuts back on additional labor costs
• Accuracy: it optimizes orders when handling large amounts of unique individual SKUs
• Capabilities: long-term, large volume production can be achieved more easily since manual operations can be combined with existing automation components
The Sussex IM Difference
By providing a turn-key mass customization IML solution, Sussex IM has full control over the entire process, from design to delivery for mass customization. Competitors tend to use serialized coding by way of 3rd party technology and printed barcode stickers, which can cause problems down the road. Sussex IM utilizes automation and robotics teams to create customized cells that are fit specifically for the mass customization production, ensuring our customers always get the best end product.
Whether you want a high-quality plastic product utilizing the IML process or you need a custom service to solve a specific molding problem, Sussex IM is here to help.
Contact us today to learn more about IML and plastic injection molding services.