In-mould Labelling
Food Containers


In-mould labelling is the use of plastic labels during the manufacturing of containers by blow moulding (BML), injection moulding (IML), or thermoforming processes. The label serves as the integral part of the final product, which is delivered as pre-decorated item to the packaging filling line. In-mould labels are applied at high temperature with longer cycle times which comes with its challenges. Mainly BoPP films are being used which are printed, varnished and converted into a single label. These stacks are then used during the moulding process. The fact that the label is moulded inside the container provides a no label look, ensures brand integrity on a higher level and reduces complexity in the packaging line (no decoration process).

Production details

Here you can see an in-mould food container label sample printed on a Xeikon 3500 digital press.

  • Print dimensions: 105 x 145 mm and 590 x 115 mm 
  • Substrate: BoPP film and cavitated BoPP film (before printing the foil is inline primered to ensure adhesion in extreme situations)
  • Toner: Food-safe ICE toner
  • Finishing: Xeikon miniUCoat, inline water based varnish and offline/rotary die cut 
  • The Xeikon 3500 has been the press of choice since its 516 mm (20.3") web width allows for productive solution. The full rotary printing architecture enables any length of labels without productivity loss.

Sample of a digital printed food container label

What is the value of digital printing?

In-mould labelling is a decoration technique with relatively high start-up costs and used early in the supply chain. Digital printing allows customer sampling for test marketing, resulting in higher success rates when the products hit the consumer market. In addition, digital production offers a lower cost solution for the large sized labels which have higher start-up printing cost.

Furthermore digital printing with Xeikon offers:

  • undistinguishable quality from your flexo production and as such provide a complement to flexo or
  • provides cross-over with offset of at least 2,100 line meter (6,889 linear ft) or >70,000 labels
  • no startup costs
  • no job changeover costs on the same print media
  • ability to print unlimited number versions in one go

Which is the preferred digital press for in-mould food containers?

The Xeikon 3500 digital printing press. The flagship in digital dry toner printing, which produces at true 1200 dpi and stunning speeds while offering with its has variable repeat length and digital front-end full flexibility:

  • dry toner technology: ensures full compliance to this challenging application from food perspective 
  • variable repeat length: minimizes the waste and enables printing of large sized labels like used for pails and buckets
  • web width: 508 mm (20") ensures high productivity and compatibility with conventional converting equipment
  • high quality printing: 1200 dpi with wide color gamut and spot colors

Which is the preferred digital production solution?

Below you can see an example of a full production set-up for in-mould food container labels: roll-to-roll line including a water based priming unit, a Xeikon 3500 digital press and a miniUCoat which comprises of a varnishing station and rewinder. It is our complete digital printing solution, which comes with all the necessary components for seamless digital label printing.

Digital production solution with a Xeikon 3500


You can see this application live in the following events:

Xeikon Café - Packaging Innovations