Switzerland-based Mold & Robotics Group has announced that subsidiary H. Müller-Fabrique de Moules SA (Conthey, Switzerland), a global specialist in in-mold labeling (IML) systems, is transferring its technology and know-how to sister company CBW Automation in Fort Collins, CO. Muller’s leading-edge IML systems will be manufactured in North America for the first time at CBW’s manufacturing facility. A cross-functional team has been established between Müller and CBW to coordinate the transfer of the engineering designs, control programs, manufacturing techniques and optimization processes.
The transfer of IML technology will enhance CBW’s capabilities and help meet growing demand among processors and end users for IML systems in North America, according to Taras Konowal, CBW Director of Sales and Marketing, North America. “Our customers are hungry for domestically produced [IML] systems that reduce shipping costs and deliver time-to-market benefits,” said Konowal.
Konowal told PlasticsToday in a telephone interview that, while CBW Automation has expertise in robotics for packaging systems, IML represents about 5% of its overall business. “From the IML side, CBW has done about 30 to 40 IML systems at most over the past 10 years,” Konowal explained. “Müller does that many systems every year.”
Konowal attributes Müller’s high level of IML expertise to the fact that the technology represents 95% of the company’s business. Europe’s early adoption of IML for containers also created more opportunity for a company like Muller. “In Europe, 90% of containers are IML, while in the U.S. it’s about 20%,” Konowal said. “The IML technology transfer represents a tremendous opportunity for our future, as brand owners in North America adopt this technology."
CBW Automation will initially manufacture IML systems that are designed for large 2-x-12 stack molds delivering 24 cavities per shot. These systems produce injection molded thin-wall polypropylene packaging for containers and lids.
CBW Automation’s capability now provides the U.S. market with a flexible and cost-efficient technology, said Konowal. Domestic customer support and replacement parts will be available.
CBW Automation has already reached an agreement to manufacture its first IML system for a U.S.-based molder of thin-wall packaging. Design and manufacturing are already underway, with delivery scheduled for later this year.
According to Jean-Philippe Obrist, who heads the Mold and Robotics Group’s Robotics Business Unit, additional projects are in the planning stages. The technology for smaller cavitation IML systems and take-out robots from Müller to CBW are in the transfer stage. These technology transfers will be completed later this year.
Image courtesy Scanrail/Adobe Stock.