Tech Watch: CBW Roll-Fed IML Technology
by Brittany Willes
First developed more than 10 years ago, the roll-fed IML system from CBW Automation, Fort Collins, Colorado, has evolved over time. The recently released Pre-Cut Roll-Fed IML system’s advanced technology is designed to reduce scrap and label costs, while increasing productivity.
CBW originally developed the roll-fed IML approach to meet a customer need. “The customer wanted to combine the digital printing of labels and the personalization that this allowed with IML technology to produce small lots of custom, personalized packaging,” explained Robert Harvey, CBW’s vice president of sales and marketing. “This same use of digital printing has enabled CBW customers to mold product that is serialized, with an individual barcoded ID, an individual security feature or a traceability feature right in the graphics.”
CBW’s patent-pending roll-fed IML system eliminates the major modes of producing scrap. “This increases yield and lowers costs for the molder,” Harvey said. “When the molder is not stacking labels, there is no need for anti-static in the film,” he asserted. “This reduces the cost of the label and increases the effectiveness of pinning the label into the mold with static. In addition, a thinner gauge film often can be used, and there is zero cost of stacking and banding, which is a non-value-added activity and a source of process variability.”
Unlike traditional magazine-fed approaches to IML, the Pre-Cut system unwinds a roll of labels, tracking the position of the labels carefully using registration marks, sensor eyes and servo control. The labels then are picked from a vacuum table and placed to the mandrels for insertion into the mold. With the new system, “the label can be positioned on the mandrel more accurately,” asserted Jack Maze, CBW’s executive vice president. “Roller diecut IML is more accurate using the roll tracking line and the eye mark.”
Whereas earlier roll-fed systems used a press-side guillotine or rotary diecutter to cut the shape of the label from the roll of pre-printed film, the new system pre-cuts the labels, which then are rewound into a roll. Nearly the entire edge of the label is cut, but small tabs or ties are left to retain the label in the roll. The molder no longer needs to be concerned with the process of diecutting, the sharpness of the dies or stocking additional dies. The diecutting is performed inline at the label manufacturer.
Thus far, CBW has received positive reviews for the Pre-Cut system. “At InkWorks Printing, we see CBW’s Pre-Cut and Place technology as the next big thing in IML,” asserted Bob Travis, CEO of InkWorks Printing and president of the IMDA. “The solution leverages the benefits the Cut and Place solution has over cut-and-stack IML. The elegance of the solution is its promised simplicity and improved efficiency for both molder and printer.”
The system is built for a 165-ton Roboshot molding machine running a two-cavity mold, creating a 12-ounce container with a 0.022'' wall section. The overall cycle time is 5.0s and the servo label placement and part retrieval provide a 0.82s intrusion time. The label is 45micron Solid White OPP film on a roll with 12.625'' width.
As with all CBW equipment, the Pre-Cut Roll-Fed IML is a custom designed, fully tested automation solution that includes PC-based Beckhoff Control Platform, allowing remote diagnostics and troubleshooting; TwinCAT safety system; welded steel frame for rigid construction; and a 12 month parts and service warranty. Videos of the Pre-Cut Roll Fed System, as well as other CBW systems, can be seen on CBW’s YouTube channel.