In-mold labeling (IML) specialist Muller Technology has launched a new IML automation system for the production of five-gallon pails that is said to reduce cost, improve productivity, and enhance graphics and product appearance. The IML system offers major improvements over standard pressure-sensitive and printed systems, which are time-consuming and require double handling of parts, said Muller.
Unlike Europe, where IML has gained strong penetration in a range of packaging applications, Muller notes that the technology has been slower to develop in North America. However, label suppliers are predicting 40% growth in North America this year, with brand owners and molders driving demand, according to North America Director of Sales and Marketing Taras Konowal.
“Our IML technology enables pail manufacturers to add to their product offering without any infrastructure changes, enabling them to maintain a small footprint and limit costly scrap,” said Konowal.
The one-piece IML system is less than eight feet wide — competitive IML systems average 12 to 14 feet in width. It fits conveniently into non-IML production lines, said Muller, and requires no adjustment in floor layout, fitting any injection molding machine height.
The IML system places the wrap-around polypropylene label into the mold, removes the pail after molding, and transports it to a visual inspection station. The pail is then directed to stacking and handle assembly. Systems can be easily converted from one- to two-cavity molds to enable the production of one- to five-gallon pails.
Muller’s new system features digital label placement positioning that saves manufacturers the high cost of scrapping a finished pail because of label misalignment. The system also has quick change-out capability. Rotating dummy mandrels allow label seams in different locations.
Muller builds its IML systems in the United States at its Fort Collins, CO, facility and in Switzerland at its Conthey plant.