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IML labels exhibit stick-to-it-iveness

March 1, 2006

3 Min Read
IML labels exhibit stick-to-it-iveness

As inmold labeling (IML) technology permeates injection molding in Europe, especially within packaging applications, it is gaining a greater North American foothold, mostly in durable goods products, with new technologies making it easier for processors to bring it into their shops.

Automation and auxiliary supplier Wittmann (Vienna, Austria) has seen interest in all markets from both sides of the Atlantic, with Duane Royce, VP robots and granulators, estimating during a recent Torrington, CT open house that Wittmann''s French division had fulfilled more than 60 IML projects in Europe, driven by the continent''s various countries and languages, which force brandowners to have a quick-and-ready solution to swap out a package''s label on a nation-by-nation basis.

In North America, however, Wittmann estimates that fully 80% of IML projects are going into durable goods in areas like warning labels that were formerly adhered post manufacture.

In its Torrington, CT lab, Wittmann has a functioning display of the current industry standard for affixing labels in tool premolding-a Simco-supplied static bar, which charges up a label with static electricity by passing it by an ionizing bar. The charge helps the label jump from the robot''s end-of-arm-tool to the mold''s cavity-and stay there, once vacuum is removed.

The company has also begun work, however, on a new, patented technology provided by Avery Dennison, which uses a proprietary adhesive to affix the label to a mold cavity instead of pins, static charge, or other means. Dubbed the Accu-Place In-Mold Labeling (APIML) technology, the system features labels in a roll format on a clear polyester liner with Accu-Tack adhesive that doesn''t mar the mold surface. A robot can remove the labels from the roll, or they can be fed through the molding machine in a reel-to-reel fashion, where they''re stuck to the tool cavity and backmolded with a variety of compatible materials, including PP, PE, PC, nylon, or ABS.

Avery Dennison''s Michael Merkx says the system avoids the problems high humidity can cause with static electricity, does away with work-in-process inventory since parts that come out of the mold don''t need secondary label application, and offers a more permanent, and, depending on volume, cost-effective solution than labeling via pressure-sensitive labels, pad printing, or hot stamping. Avery Dennison says although the number can fluctuate based on the application and manufacturing requirements, APIML could save 10-30%. From an aesthetics standpoint, the IML labels eliminate the possibility for crooked placement or air bubbles found with some pressure-sensitive labeling. From a permanence perspective, the Accu-Tack IML labels bond to the underlying resin for a long-term solution.

"You really can''t put a price on aesthetics," Merkx says. "If it''s a customer''s nameplate, what''s it worth to have a durable label be on the product for the life of the product?" From a liability standpoint, permanence in warning labels is also highly sought after by OEMs.

Avery Dennison says the technology has been commercial for around a year and a half, with three immediate commercial applications, including the ShopVac line of wet/dry vacuums, and interest from a variety of markets, including appliances, automotive, and lawn and garden.

IML comes to EPS

Expandable polystyrene cups have long found a market in insulating hot and cold drinks, but decoration often required costly, time-consuming secondary steps. Now, Nova Chemicals Corp. (Moon Township, PA) has acquired the exclusive rights to a new inmold labeling (IML) technology especially for EPS products, like Styrofoam coffee cups, from Dutch firm Autonational BV.

IMage Technology reportedly offers crisp, smooth graphics in a one-step process without forgoing the insulation properties normally found in EPS products. Nova introduced the technology to North American in the fourth quarter of 2005. TD

Tony Deligio [email protected]

Contact information

Autonational BV  

www.autonational.com

Avery Dennison  

www.averydennison.com

Nova Chemicals Corp.   

www.novachem.com

Simco Industrial Static Control  

www.simco-static.com

Wittmann  

www.wittmann-ct.com

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