Learn the Special Advantages Of IMD, IML, And FIM

Header picture featuring IML, IMD, and FIM processes on plastic products.

What’s the difference between IMD/IML/FIM?

What is IMD?

In the ever-evolving world of plastic manufacturing, technologies like In-Mold Labeling (IML), and In-Mold Decorating (IMD) are revolutionizing product design and branding. FIM is also well-listened as one of the methods for the decoration of plastic parts.

Each method offers unique benefits and applications, making them indispensable tools in the plastic injection molding industry. Understanding the differences between these techniques can help manufacturers choose the right process for their specific needs.

However, it’s a little bit complicated to understand those differences.

This blog will help you to understand those details.

Definition for IMD: IMD stands for In-Mold-Decoration. This is an officially registered trademark of Nissha Co., Ltd. This word is also used as a general term for decoration methods inside injection molds. Here, we will explain the decoration technology using the transcription method, which is the most recognized IMD.

IMD is usually recognized as a method of decorating molded parts using an ink transcription method within an injection mold. That design is printed on the film and it will be supplied to the mold usually by a roll. (Please see the illustration A:)

Illustration A:

Illustration showing the process of In Mold Decoration


  • Decorative with Productivity: Unlike Uretain painting or silk screen printing, multiple types of colors and designs are transcribed at the same time. It is productive for mass production since it automatically scrolls the film for every shot.
  • High stability of alignment: By installing position sensors with high precision, the quality of the design surface is stable.


  • Durability: Since the transcriptional ink is exposed without any coating material or film it will be scratched or fadeout depending on the level of shock. If durability is required, you need to use hard coat film or hard coat paint for the 2nd process.
  • Accessories: The printed film is provided by a roll. So It requires a film-carrying device and the film is carried by roll-to-roll method every shot of injection molding.


  • Automotive dashboards
  • Home appliances
  • Touch-sensitive panels

What is IML?

Definition for IML: IML stands for In-Mold-Labeling. This is also a registered trademark of Nissha Co., Ltd. The label (or Film) is merged directly with the plastic product during the molding process. This technique involves placing a pre-printed label (or Film) inside the mold before injecting the plastic. When the mold closes, the label and plastic bond together, creating a seamless, durable finish. (Please see the illustration B:)

Illustration B:

In mold labeling process illustration


  • High resistance to moisture and chemicals: Ensures longevity and durability of labels.
  • Durability and process reduction: No Glue, No Assembly process and the Label(or Film) protects the design for long durability.


  • The Compatibility for Plastic and Label(or Film):  If the label and resin materials are different, it is necessary to fully understand the adhesive properties of both companies.


  • Food containers
  • Beverage bottles
  • Personal care product

What is Film Insert Molding (FIM)?

Definition: Film Insert Molding (FIM) involves placing a decorative film into the mold before the plastic injection process. This word is also used as one of the methods of IML. Here, FIM is defined as a molding technology that uses decorative films for products that specialize in 3D shapes and is distinguished from IML. FIM utilizes flexible films that can conform to more complex shapes and surfaces. This technique is ideal for creating detailed and intricate designs on plastic parts. This process requires air pressure forming form the decorative film before the injection process to provide the 3D shape of the film. (Please see the illustration C:)

Illustration C:

Illustration of film insert molding process


  • High durability and resistance to wear: Ensures product longevity.
  • Advanced graphic quality and resolution: By combining sheets with gravure printing or offset printing and molded products, it is possible to create vivid decorations that look like photographs.
  • Applicable for small lot production: The printed sheet can be provided in sheets.
  • Compatible with 3D shapes: Compatible with corners, deep shapes, and stepped shapes.


  • Multiple processes: Multiple processes are required, including air pressure forming, trimming, and injection molding.
  • Cost for Facility: Initial setup cost can be high, and less flexible for small runs or frequent design changes.


  • Automotive interior components
  • Consumer electronics
  • Amusement

Why These Techniques Matter?

Choosing the right method depends on the specific requirements of the product. For instance, if the decorative design is simple and the product is flat design and requires Mass production, IMD is a better solution. On the other hand, Durability and graphic quality are paramount, so IML is an excellent choice. FIM provides flexibility for decorating more complex 3D shapes.

Key Strengths of Bigmate Philippines Inc.

One of the key strengths of Bigmate Philippines for decorative products is our experience with Film Insert Molding capabilities. The machine tonnage will be limited to 180t or below based on the required sheet size. However, our strength is more on engineering consultation based on our experience. If FIM is not fit for your products based on the productivity and cost we will coordinate other solutions for you. Their ability to produce parts with precise alignment and consistent quality, even for items with challenging 3D designs, underscores their technical proficiency.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top