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5/8/2018 | 2 MINUTE READ

NPE2018 New Technology Focus: Do It in the Mold

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In-mold labeling and decorating are applied to packaging and automotive parts at numerous booths throughout the show.

At least six machinery OEMs are highlighting the growing popularity of in-mold labeling and decorating (IML, IMD). For the first time in North America, Engel (Booth W3303) is demonstrating the Decoject IMD process that was first shown at K 2016. Aimed at auto interiors, this automated cell feeds a thin TPO film from a roll into a mold, where it is back-injected with PP and punched out of the roll. The part gets a laser trim after demolding. The film imparts color, texture, gloss, and feel, so a variety of parts can be made simply by changing films.

Other exhibits address IML for packaging, where speed is of the essence. Arburg (Booth W1325) uses a “packaging” version of its Allrounder 570 H designed for thin-wall molding to produce four PP tubs with IML in just 1.9 sec. The decorated parts have a wall thickness of 0.0126 in. and weigh 0.12 oz. Mold and automation are from Brink B.V. of the Netherlands.

Absolute Robot Inc. (ARI; Booth W4182) takes its first step into IML with a side-entry system from Well-Lih in China, running a four-cavity PP yogurt-cup mold. According to ARI, its IML systems perform in the same league as industry-leading competitors, but at 20-30% lower price. ARI is offering top-entry and side-entry IML systems for overall cycle times down to 3 sec and with mold-open times as short as 1.8 sec. This IML demonstration is meant to show that ARI can handle complete turnkey systems with robot, EOAT, label magazine, height-adjustable frame, and options like vision and stacking parts either bottom-up or bottom-down.

Asian Plastic Machinery (Booth S17147) exhibits one of its top-of-the-line TSV servo-hydraulic toggles running IML.

Ilsemann Automation of Germany applies IML to a yogurt cup at the Trexel booth (Booth W551) in a demonstration of a new thin-wall foaming process.

KraussMaffei’s GX 900 two-platen press with new “speed” option (Booth W403) molds two 5-gal paint pails with IML in less than 14 sec, using automation from Campetella Robotic Center of Italy (Booth S27009). Campetella, represented here by Hunter Automation & Robotics, specializes in IML with high-speed side-entry robots.

A Netstal (Booth S16088) all-electric Elion 1200 (120 m.t.) is producing single-serve coffee capsules of PLA biopolymer with PLA labels from Verstraete (Booth S19154) in four cavities and in 6-7 sec, using robotics from Beck Automation, at whose booth (Booth S35146) the machine is running.

Another Netstal machine (Elion 3200 hybrid) produces four rectangular containers with IML in 3.9 sec, using robotics from CBW Automation, at that company’s booth (W943).

Nissei’s IML demo (at Booth W923) labels two-cavity drinking mugs using its new NEX-IV all-electric press (397 tons).