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In-Mold Labeling Automation System for 5-Gal Pails

Muller’s new IML system boasts major improvements over standard pressure-sensitive and printed systems.

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An innovative in-mold labeling (IML) automation system for the production of 5-gal pails that reportedy reduced cost, improves productivity and enhances graphis and product appearance has been launched by Muller Technology Colorado (formerly CBW Automation), Fort Collins, Colo.,

A global leader in tool making and automation technology for thin-wall plastic packaging, Muller has designed the new IML system to offer major improvements over standard pressure-sensitive and printed systems which are time-consuming and require double handling of parts.

Muller launched IML automation system for 5-gal pails

IML technology has been slower to develop in North America, versus Europe when it has gained strong penetration in a range of packaging applications. However, label suppliers are predicting 40% growth in North America this year for industrial pail IML with brand owners and molders driving the demand, according to Taras Konowal, Muller’s North America director of sales and marketing. “Our IML technology enables pail manufacturers to add to their product offering without any infrastructure changes, enabling them to maintain a small footprint and limiting costly scrap.”

Muller responded to customer needs with a one-piece IML system which is less than 8-ft wide compared to competitive IML systems that are 12-14-ft wide. It reportedly fits conveniently into non-IML production lines, requires no adjustment in floor layout, and fits any injection molding machine height. The IML system places the wrap-around PP label into the mold, removes the pail after molding, and transports it to a visual inspection station. The pail is then directed to stacking and handle assembly. Systems can be easily converted from one-cavity to two-cavity to enable the production of 1- to 5-gal pails.

Manufacturers often face the costly scrapping of a finished pail due to label misalignment. A key feature of Muller’s IML system is digital label placement positioning which provides significant precision and detailed label placement versus standard, manually adjusted magazines. The system also boasts quick changeout capability from pail size to pail size and label to label. Rotating dummy mandrels allow label seams in different locations.

Muller has already sold IML systems to leading manufacturers in the U.S. and South Africa. The company builds these systems in the U.S. at its Fort Collins facility and in Switzerland at its Conthey plant.

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