Automation and auxiliary equipment supplier Wittmann Inc., Torrington, Conn., is expanding its capabilities for in-mold labeling (IML) with the acquisition of a toolmaker and plans to offer turnkey IML systems. Wittmann recently acquired Regad in Saint-Claude, France, a specialized toolmaker for thin-wall injection molding. Wittmann will combine molds from Regad with its own robot technology to create fully tested and optimized turnkey IML systems that save start-up time and cost. Wittmann will offer two versions of its IML systems-for simple and for high-performance applications. Both will feed labels automatically and place them in the mold cavities with static electricity or vacuum. To speed cycles, labels will be inserted in the fixed mold half and parts removed from the moving half. For simple applications with cycle times longer than 7 sec, Wittmann will offer a standard top-entry servo robot and ability to handle up to four cavities for containers up to 20 liters with labels on up to seven sides. For more demanding applications, including ones with stack molds or cycles shorter than 5 sec, Wittmann will offer a side-entry robot-or two-for stack molds up to 4 + 4 cavities. Wittmann presented a complete IML system for the production of lids in a four-cavity mold at its recent open house in Austria. The system had label-insertion/part-removal time of 0.6 sec and overall cycle time of 3 sec. Pneumatic kick strokes on Wittmann's W627H side-entry robot simultaneously inserted labels and removed lids, which were handed over to a modified W721 beam robot for stacking.
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