Muller Launches In-Mold Labeling (IML) Automation System for 5-Gallon Pails

Muller Technology, Fort Collins, Colorado, which supplies tool making and automation technology for thin-wall plastic packaging, has launched an innovative in-mold labeling (IML) automation system for the production of 5-gallon pails that reduces cost, improves productivity and enhances graphics and product appearance. Muller’s new IML system offers major improvements over standard pressure-sensitive and printed systems which are time-consuming and require double handling of parts.

Unlike in Europe, where IML has gained strong penetration in a range of packaging applications, Muller notes that the technology has been slower to develop in North America. 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. Konowal said Muller’s 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 eight feet wide, compared to competitive IML systems that are 12 to 14 feet wide. It 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 polypropylene (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 one- to five-gal pails.

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