By Cori Watkins, writer, Plastics Decorating

Ren-Flex Packaging (Ren-Flex), with a facility in Ophirton, Johannesburg, South Africa, printed its first in-mold labels (IML) in 2011. With support from its sister company, Ren-Form Group, Ren-Flex offers the largest selection of IML in the South African market. In 2023, a project for brand owners Canway Supply Chain Solutions and AF Brands, in cooperation with injection molder TEQAL, became an award-winning cosmetic container that has attracted attention on the retail shelf and in the international press.

Ren-Flex establishes a reputation for IML
Tommy du Sart, CEO of the Ren-Form Group, saw the need in the South African market for local production of flexible packaging, focusing on in-mold labels. Ren-Flex Packaging was born in 2011, and the company has since established a reputation for its high-quality work in food packaging and consumer goods applications.

According to the company’s website, Ren-Flex manufactures flexible packaging for small, medium and large production runs. This flexibility is obtained with the installation of digital and lithographic offset printing presses and a host of finishing equipment. The company’s focus is on delivering premium-quality labels to various industries through optimal machinery and skilled, hard-working staff.

IML enhances shelf presence for body
cream container
Ren-Flex recently was selected to create an in-mold label for Romano Classic Body Cream (470 ml) and Arthur Ford Body Cream. Dwayne du Sart, CEO at Ren-Flex, explained why IML was the best choice for creating these labels: “IML is the leading format to convert to from self-adhesive labels on any jar or tub. As Ren-Flex has equipped itself with various printing formats, the digital avenue with low minimum-order quantity (MOQ) was guaranteed to be the best for the launch of these new products and assisted with the artwork improvements.”

The goal was to manufacture multiple variants of the container artwork, with a minimum quantity of each when the project was launched to provide a visual impact once the containers were on the shelf. “The labels were ordered by the injection molder, TEQAL, for whom we are producing many 250 ml, 500 ml and 700 ml jars on white and transparent IML substrates,” du Sart said.

For these body cream jars, the label film was laminated with printed foil and then varnished. A white biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) IML film was laminated to an 18-micron metallized BOPP. The artwork was surface-printed to the metallized/BOPP laminate and varnished. No register issues were experienced as the print was applied on top of the foil, rendering the flexibility of utilizing full or partial coverage. This also allowed for the bending of the IML label around a 3D surface, making intricate designs with sharp artwork lines possible.

The final metallic colors were adopted from CMYK conversions through the digital front end, and a final coating of a water-based varnish was applied offline. Diecutting of the reel was performed in-house and then the labels were dispatched directly to the molder.

No static was required in the mold, and the label was bent around a radiused base and upper edge (under the cap interface) to give a borderless, 3D shrink-sleeve look. This borderless label adds to the container’s size impression and visible shelf impact. Also adding to the label’s impact is the fact that the product is hot filled. This enables a textured label finish (orange-peel effect), giving the container a premium look and feel by enhancing the metallic look.

Using IML to add the label to the product is consistent with Ren-Flex’s sustainability goals as there is no waste of foil material, as there could be with cold and hot foiling. As the BOPP is laminated to a metalized BOPP, the end product and any waste are recyclable. The offering of a full-coverage metalized print surface provides the end user with a shrink-sleeve “look and feel” without the complexities of application and the non-recyclability of a PET shrink sleeve.

Lamination of IML substrate to foil material is a commercially viable option as artwork changes for foiling areas are seamless since no flexo plates are required, and materials may be pre-laminated in bulk. The metallized-to-artwork registration always is 100% accurate due to the printing process of printing onto the metallized substrate and not setting flexo plates for each artwork. Another significant advantage to IML is there are no costs for foiling plates and any artwork changes easily are accommodated.

Winning accolades for its work
The brand owners (Canway Supply Chain Solutions and AF Brands) were thrilled with the finished containers and have started pursuing further projects to complete the product line-up.

To add to the on-shelf attention, Ren-Flex submitted its in-mold labeled jar for Romano Classic Body Cream 470 ml and Arthur Ford Body Cream to the 2023 IMDA Awards competition and was awarded the IMDA 2023 winner in the Best Use of In-Mold Labeling category. Ren-Flex then was eligible to enter the WorldStar competition and was bestowed a prestigious WorldStar packaging award in the labeling and decoration category. In addition to competition recognition, the jars have been featured in industry magazines such as Plastics Decorating; Packaging & Print Media; Paper, Film & Foil Converter; Label and Narrow Web; and more.

Ren-Flex is delighted with the results of its award-winning IML jars and values the team’s talent, skill and ingenuity that went into this successful project.