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July 17, 2003

4 Min Read
New technology strikes a no-label look

A current application for Accu-Place IML, this cover for a vacuum canister showcases the superior aesthetics and graphic boldness possible with this system.

Replacing other secondary operations, a proprietary surface treatment promises to leave no residue in the mold and handles curves like a dream.

Inmold labels with no static or carrier required? Labels that adhere to the mold consistently regardless of humidity or label size? And they don’t look like labels?

No, you’re not dreaming. Technology has, once again, achieved the previously impossible with a new inmold labeling system from Avery Dennison’s Industrial & Automotive Products Div. Called Accu-Place IML, the invention marries expertise from Avery’s decorative laminates and film insert molding capabilities to raise the bar on inmold labeling.

Of course, even the former inmold labeling process can improve the profitability of a molding operation by eliminating secondary operations through reduced labor costs and work in process. It replaces secondary operations such as pad printing, thermal transfer, or heat transfer, which are labor-intensive and can be rather high in first- and second-pass scrap rates.

What makes Accu-Place IML unique compared to other inmold labeling processes is that it doesn’t require static to adhere to the inside of the mold or a carrier to transfer the label into the mold. By employing a proprietary surface treatment called Accu-Tack to the label, Avery’s process enables the label to stick to the tool prior to the molding process without leaving residue in the tool afterward.

This is also a drop-in replacement for current applications, because Accu-Place IML can be used without having to rework current molds. It operates using traditional roll-to-roll labeling logistics. And because of the nature of Avery’s surface treatment, molds do not need to be re-engineered and machined to work with inmold labeling.

Accu-Place IML labels are compatible with a wide variety of resins, such as PP, HDPE, LDPE, ABS, PC, PC/ABS, and nylon. Labels themselves are made from various thermoplastics, and their makeup is determined by the melt temperature of the substrate resin. The labels are compatible with glass- and talc-filled resins and many additives, including static-dissipative additives, mold release agents, UV-resistant additives, and most colorants.

Compared to traditional static placement of inmold labels, Accu-Place IML provides consistent performance within the mold regardless of humidity, its maker asserts. Static processes vary greatly depending on the amount of moisture in the air. Further, for the most part, static cannot be used in a manufacturing operation if electronic equipment is being produced. In these instances, the new system allows inmold labeling to be an option in decorating.

Labels are applied using a traditional roll-to-roll system, but do not require static or controlled humidity. A surface treatment also ensures that even large labels do not sag in the mold prior to injection.

Functionally, the system also improves the performance of inmold labeling during the molding process itself. Avery’s proprietary labels have greatly improved shear strength in the mold compared to a static process. As a result, they stay in place during molding and do not slide on the outside of the part, which causes scrap in the molding process.

Also, because of the excellent adhesion to the mold, large labels hold within the mold just as well as smaller labels. In addition, labels can be molded on parts with compound curves. Because of poor adhesion around complex curves with static, plastic can creep in front of the label during the molding process. The Accu-Tack surface treatment creates a clean joint with the mold, and does not allow the plastic to flow around the front of the decoration.

To assist customers with label placement in the mold, Avery Dennison is working with a robotics supplier for turnkey automation solutions. A systems design has been created that incorporates robotic-arm pick-and-place capabilities for integration into existing injection molding equipment configurations.

Contours and compound curves are not a problem for the new IML technology.

On a final note, products decorated with Accu-Place IML showcase a “no-label look” with improved graphics—including four-color processes—and improved durability.

Typically, exceptional graphics can be achieved with the use of pressure-sensitive labels. In many cases, however, outgassing causes problems in pressure-sensitive labels when they are applied after an injection molding process. If a label is applied to a molded part soon after production, gases become trapped under the label, causing it to pucker and blister. Accu-Place IML eliminates these issues by having the label applied to the product during the molding process, so that the gases can exit from the part as it cools without marring the decoration.

Contact information
Avery Dennison Industrial
Products Div., Strongsville, OH
Jonathan Lim; (440) 878-7358
[email protected]

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