Your Guide to IML Phone Case Manufacturing

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Mobile IML phone cases isolated on white

Efficient and flawless customization of phone cases has enabled the world’s leading phone case manufacturers to grow and prosper. At the same time, marketing experts are quickly recognizing the power of IML as a means of increasing sales and promoting an organization’s brand. Below is a look at the evolution of IML and the host of advantages IML technology offers phone case manufacturers.

What is IML?

IML, or in-mold labeling, is the insertion of a plastic or paper label into an open plastic injection mold. Also known as in-mold decorating (IMD), IML involves the use of vacuum ports or an electrostatic charge to hold a label in place to ensure accurate placement and positioning. A heat-resistant lacquer is then used to permanently close the injection mold and encapsulate the label. The most important elements of the IML process are as follows:

  • IML combines the labeling process with the molding process
  • The label is an integrated component of the completed product
  • IML reduces manufacturing time and expense

When did IML become popular? 

IML first emerged in the 1970s when manufacturers began exploring alternatives to traditional decals and labels. Originally designed to facilitate blow molding, IML technology was first used in the manufacturing of shampoo bottles to enable pre-labeled bottles to be quickly filled with shampoo on the assembly line. In recent years, IML has evolved to become a popular choice among consumer electronics manufacturers seeking to customize their products. As manufacturers experience the many benefits of IML, they are increasingly using IML instead of painting, pad printing, dipped coating, and other modes of decorating that are applied after goods are produced.

How is IML used in the phone case manufacturing industry?  

IML is used with growing frequency by cell phone case manufacturers seeking a professional, wear-resistant means of customizing cases for consumers. Most applications with cell phone cases involve second surface graphics and the printing of designs or logos on the back of an acrylic or polycarbonate substrate. Manufacturers who employ IML use vision systems to verify the accuracy of labels and their proper positioning on cell phone cases.

woman's hand holding an IML phone case on iPhone

What are the specific benefits for phone case manufacturers who use IML? 

IML offers phone case manufacturers the highest degree of efficiency, design accuracy, and flexibility. Most important, the single-step design of IML phone cases helps to ensure that phone cases are customized accurately, thereby bolstering consumer satisfaction. Below are twelve specific benefits of using IML in the phone case manufacturing industry.

1) Increased efficiency.

Quick turnaround times are vital to the success of phone case manufacturers. Clients who are eager to get their phone cases into the hands of mobile phone owners expect bulk orders to be produced quickly. The IML process facilitates the productions of hundreds or thousands of customized phone cases quickly, enabling clients to fill orders promptly.

2) Fewer design errors.

The single-step, automated approach of IML virtually eliminates the potential for design-related errors on phone cases. Misspellings, smudges, lack of design consistency, and asymmetry are eliminated if the initial label is accurately produced.

3) A professional appearance.

The IML process optimizes print quality and helps protect high-resolution images. Additionally, IML offers tighter tolerances and higher quality graphics than other customization techniques. Combining high-quality images with an error-free approach helps to ensure a professional-looking phone case.

4) Durability and strength.

Mobile phone cases must endure constant usage by consumers. They are also subject to frequent exposure to environmental elements and contact with furniture and personal belongings. A key advantage of IML phone cases is their high degree of resistance to changes in temperature, reducing the likelihood of cracking or discoloration. Additionally, in mold labels are protected from wrinkling and scratching.

5) Heightened consumer demand for customized phone cases.

Over 75% of cell phone overs use a case to protect or store their phones. As cell phone providers continue their expansion into emerging markets, the number of people seeking customized phone cases is expected to increase.

6) High visibility.

Studies show that Americans as a collective group check their cell phones 8 billion times each day. Manufacturers and marketing professionals alike recognize the advertising potential of IML phone case manufacturing.

7) Cost savings.

The labor and time required to customize phone cases after they are manufactured can be more costly than the case itself. By eliminating the need to decorate each phone case after it is produced, IML saves manufacturers time and money. The injection molder handles the entire customization process, erasing the need for additional parts or an additional step in the phone case manufacturing process. The result is a healthier bottom line for manufacturers and reduced costs for consumers.

8) Artistic flexibility.

One of the greatest benefits of IML is its ability to professionally showcase a design of any color, pattern or logo. Consumers can choose a cell phone case that bears the name of their favorite team, brand, design, or university. Additionally, IML can be used to enhance cell phone cases of all shapes and sizes without compromising access to phone controls and ports.

9) Design protection.

The protective resin that closes the injection mold completely envelops phone cases, offering an added layer of protection for the case and its featured design or logo. Dust, debris, and scratches are less likely to cloud phone cases featuring IML.

10) Environmentally friendly construction.

IML is growing in popularity among environmentally-conscious phone case manufacturers. The case and the label feature the same materials, eliminating the need to remove a label prior to recycling.

11) Easy to change designs.

Phone case manufacturers who enjoy featuring a variety of designs, patterns, and color choices can easily switch their applications with IML. Adjustments can be made in a matter of minutes to produce a seasonal design or a new look.

12) Marketing appeal.

The highly visible nature of cell phone cases, combined with the ability to customize phone cases with virtually brand or design, has established IML as a top choice among marketing professionals in search of an effective mode of advertising.

How can I find the best IML phone case manufacturer? 

Not all phone case manufacturers are created equal. In fact, some phone case providers do not even offer IML technology. The best way to find a dependable phone IML phone case provider is to carefully evaluate manufacturers before placing your order. Below are some key questions to ask phone case manufacturers:

  • Does your company employ EML technology when producing customized phone cases?
  • Do you have the capacity to process my order? (Indicate the number of units you require).
  • Are you able to provide a free mock design for me?
  • What type of warranty or guarantee do you offer?
  • Do you have any minimum order requirements? If so, what are they?
  • How quickly can I expect to receive my order?
  • Would you be able to supply some references in my area?

Asking these questions will help ensure that you are purchasing your IML phone cases from a trustworthy source. Additionally, you will know what to expect when you place your first IML phone case order.

Final Considerations 

IML phone cases offer a host of advantages to phone case manufacturers and consumers alike. From their durable construction to their efficient, cost-effective construction, phone cases manufactured with IML technology are rapidly increasing in popularity, especially compared to phone cases that are customized after the manufacturing process. When choosing a phone case manufacturer, be sure to carefully evaluate providers to ensure that they use IML technology and request a free mock design to help you experience the professional appearance of a customized IML phone case.